2019 NCAAF Week 6 Weekend Preview

October 3, 2019

The weather hasn’t taken a turn yet (at least in the Midwest), but as the calendar turns to October, we dive into the meat of the college football season.

Ranked conference battles, high-profile upsets, talk of the first CFP rankings – it all awaits us this month.

So far, there has been a pretty clear distinction between what we perceive to be the top teams in the game, but that can all change quickly as the target on the backs of the top teams grow with each victory.

Hopefully, more parody will be in my favor. The guests won again last weekend, bringing the overall standings in the head-to-head prediction game to the following marks:

K. Becks – 16-10

Guests – 18-8

This week, my buddy Jared will look to quietly increase the lead for the guests. I’m also playing him in one of my NFL fantasy football leagues this week, so lots of bragging rights are on the line between us over the next several days.

Let’s take a look at the top games to watch during this first weekend in October.

5 Games to Watch This Weekend

#18 Central Florida at Cincinnati (Friday, 8 PM ET)

Although the black field that made its rounds online this week ended up being a well-timed hoax by the Cincinnati football Twitter account, make no doubt about it – Bearcats fans will be looking to give the home squad every advantage possible on Friday night. Luke Fickell’s squad is tough defensively but will be looking to slow down the nation’s tenth ranked passing offense led by freshman breakout Dillon Gabriel.

If Cincinnati wants to exact revenge for last year’s result between these two teams, Desmond Ridder will need to play like he did last weekend against Marshall (221 yards passing, four touchdowns, 81 percent completion rate). It’s obvious that when he has enough time, Ridder can be deadly in the pocket. The defensive pressure that the Knights apply will be key to the outcome of this one – if Ridder is on the run, his accuracy will suffer. This game has all the makings of an upset, though, given Nippert Stadium’s energy level for night games.

My Pick: 34-31 Cincinnati

Jared’s Take: UCF may never be put in the Playoff, no matter how many undefeated seasons it has, but it’s clear to see they are here to stay as a top team in college football.  With their high powered offense and stifling D, they’re going to be tough to beat.  UC on the other hand may be only a one loss team but its hype at the beginning of the season has clearly faded.  They need a big win here to keep their season alive but I don’t think they have what it takes to stop the Knights.

UCF Wins: 40-17

#14 Iowa at #19 Michigan (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

If things go according to plan for the Hawkeyes, then FBS’s longest-tenured head coach will light a fire under the seat of college football’s most hotly debated one. Statistically speaking, Michigan fans can’t be feeling good about this one. The Wolverines were manhandled two weekends ago by Wisconsin’s run game, getting gashed for 359 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground. The Big Ten’s little secret this season is Iowa’s rushing attack, which amassed 351 yards and four rushing touchdowns last weekend.

If Michigan decides it wants to overload the box to stop the stable of Iowa running backs, Nate Stanley is very capable of connecting with his receivers downfield. The senior quarterback plays smart football and won’t be easy to bait into turning the ball over. Put simply, the entirety of Michigan’s squad will need to be better than it has through five games this season if it expects to avoid dropping this one at the Big House.

My Pick: 30-21 Iowa

Jared’s Take: Jim Harbaugh screams in despair, breaking headset after headset at the words “ranked opponent”.  He has many reasons to scream lately as Michigan proves again and again what kind of team they really are. At face value this would appear to be an easy game.  Terrible, overrated Michigan versus the power of corn!  But as Harbaugh’s seat gets hotter, I think this is the perfect game to redeem himself a bit.  Though I hate to make this pick…

Michigan Wins: 23-13

#7 Auburn at #10 Florida (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

For those keeping score at home, this game is the first of potentially several times this season that first place in the SEC East Division will play first place in the SEC West Division. The Gators expected to be in this position, albeit not with this exact supporting cast. Junior Kyle Trask has stepped up in place of the injured Feleipe Franks, keeping Florida’s passing attack afloat. Given Auburn’s previous performances this season, it isn’t a stretch to assume Trask could have a big game.

Auburn has been running all over its opponents in 2019, a sign that Gus Malzahn retaking control of the offensive play-calling duties was a smart decision. Florida will be the first real test for the Tigers since the season opener against Oregon, however, and the Gators should know Bo Nix’s tendencies far better than the Ducks could have. Dictating the pace of the game will be paramount for Auburn, but the Gators have enough talent on defense to prevent this from happening. Either Kyle Trask needs to be great or the defense needs to shut down Nix in order for Florida to win this game, but there is a decent probability of both of those things happening on Saturday afternoon.

My Pick: 27-23 Florida

Jared’s Take: Now I know what you’re thinking when you read this, “WOW, this guy really knows his college football!”  It may seem like that but this is the matchup where I get exposed in my analysis as #7 Auburn from….Auburn takes on #10 Florida from the South!  As my football knowledge wanes on these teams, I’ll take the Mike Leach approach of mascot comparisons.  On one hand, there’s the tiger – ferocious jungle cat, up against the gator – ancient fish dinosaur.  In reality this is a close call but I would probably give it to the Alligator, assuming some type of amphibious terrain.  But in the end, I’m not Mike Leach and more of a numbers guy and all of that points toward the Tigers.

Auburn Wins: 34-30

#11 Texas at West Virginia (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

The Mountaineers have been a difficult team to judge in Neal Brown’s inaugural season running the show at West Virginia, but Morgantown is never an easy place to play and Brown’s strength as a coach has always been on the defensive side of the football. A strong defensive performance will be required by the Mountaineers for them to have a shot at beating the Longhorns, which amass nearly 500 yards per contest, 330 of that through the air.

Texas’s defensive struggles may not come into play in this one, as West Virginia’s offense has been downright anemic by Big 12 standards. As Austin Kendall gets a better grip of Brown’s offense, however, the Mountaineers should continue to improve on that side of the ball. The Longhorns are highly suspect against the pass, so this could be a breakout game for the junior Kendall. It would be a massive upset if it happened and West Virginia squeaked out a win, but not out of the realm of possibilities.

My Pick: 41-27 Texas

Jared’s Take: ok.  Cool. Hook Em!

Texas Wins: 41-17

#25 Michigan State at #4 Ohio State (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET)

The Buckeyes have looked as complete as any team in the country through the first month and change of the season, a compliment to new head coach Ryan Day, who has the offense humming under first year starter at quarterback Justin Fields. The scary thing for future opponents of Ohio State is that Day hasn’t seemed to need to open up the playbook in the second half of any game thus far, a definite advantage for later in the conference slate. The Spartans, defensively tough under Mike Dantonio, may be the first to give the Buckeyes trouble on that side of the ball.

If Dantonio is fortunate, that will happen and Michigan State will remain competitive for four quarters. The Spartans only allow 55 yards per game on the ground, and the Buckeyes average over 280 yards rushing per contest. Something is going to give, but it’ll likely end up being Michigan State’s defense. That side of the ball will be expected to stand on its head all night long, only to watch Dantonio’s offense have to deal (and probably struggle) with Ohio State’s terrorizing defense. Unless Sparty wields an uncharacteristically strong offensive sword in this one, it’ll be another fairly comfortable Buckeyes victory.

My Pick: 38-17 Ohio State

Jared’s Take: OK, here we go again. It feels like every time the Buckeyes are rolling MSU comes out of nowhere to play spoiler. But not this time! Through the first five games this season OSU has proven that it is one of the top teams in the country both offensively and defensively. They have been consistently dismantling everyone they face and I don’t see that trend stopping Saturday. K. Becks once made a prediction that OSU great TP is a better version of Cam Newton. At the time some called him crazy; they even laughed at him. As time has gone on, those people’s criticisms have been proven to be…100% right; wtf were you thinking, K. Becks!?  In honor of that brave, yet stupid take I will put my own take on wax right here and now. Justin Fields is the best quarterback OSU has had in recent memory. Better than Haskins? Possibly. TP? Obviously. Braxton, Barrett, Cardale, Boeckman or Smith? With the combination of his legs and his sneaky strong arm I would say Fields is better than them all.  You heard it here first!

OSU Wins: 44-12

5 Games to Flip To

#6 Oklahoma at Kansas (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

The Mad Hatter is entirely outmanned in this battle, but it will be interesting to see how Miles attempts to handle the Oklahoma offense. This one may be interesting for a half.

Tulane at Army (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

The Green Wave are looking like the potential AAC title contenders that some predicted they would be this season, but Army’s offense will be a true test for the stiff Tulane defensive unit.

Baylor at Kansas State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

One or both of these teams is going to pull off a major upset in the Big 12 this season. It isn’t the hip thing to do in the conference, but both Baylor and Kansas State can win good defense.

Air Force at Navy (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

The first of the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy games this season will be a fun one – both service academies appear to have a potent offense.

California at #13 Oregon (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

No, ATC wasn’t buying that Cal was for real last Friday – but now that the Golden Bears are on the outside looking in to the Top 25 rankings, it’s time for another surprisingly strong performance from Justin Wilcox’s squad.

In the past, I’ve asked readers to let me know if they’d like to be guests on Around The Corn to make weekly college football picks. And while that invite still stands (email kbecks@aroundthecorn.com or message me on Facebook or Twitter if interested), the truth is that I’m basically asking friends and family on a weekly basis. Writing is a passion of mine, as is commenting on sports. But sharing those two passions with others are what has always made this worthwhile. So tell me what you think of the site and let me know what could be done better, or what would make you come back without prompting. I’d really appreciate it.

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