Can you believe it, y’all, the midpoint of the college football season is upon us. Seems like just yesterday Auburn and Oregon were still a thing.
Fast forward to week six and the playoff picture couldn’t be murkier. We’ll test the résumés of some undefeateds this week in Part Six of NCB Picks.
#10 OKLAHOMA vs. TEXAS (+17.5) (Dallas, TX)
After a shaky season in 2014 the Sooners look the part of a team ready to jump back into the spotlight, and the Longhorns have looked atrocious . . . does this remind anyone else of the 2013 Texas squad’s 36-20 upset of the Sooners, or just me? Just me? Okay. Texas can’t do anything right lately and TCU taking Bevo to the slaughterhouse last week might be just the beginning. OKLAHOMA 41, TEXAS 21
#13 NORTHWESTERN at #18 MICHIGAN (-7.5)
First of all, how satisfying is it that the B1G is back in the B1Ggest way possible: by playing stifling defense and special teams, and running the ball two yards and falling face-first to the turf? Gah. It’s my love language.
The big question for this game: can anyone score? Michigan has bounced back after an opening week loss at Utah thanks to a stout defense and a punishing running game. Northwestern is undefeated thanks to a secondary that might give Aaron Rodgers pause and controlling field position with special teams. Wildcat quarterback Clayton Thorson and Co. have managed to get by so far but I think Michigan’s ground-and-pound attack make just enough of a difference. MICHIGAN 13, NORTHWESTERN 3 (To read NCB’s preview of this game, click here.)
NAVY at #15 NOTRE DAME (-14.5)
That point spread is terrifying, given the general bruised-over quality of Notre Dame’s entire team and the fact that Navy’s option attack is dialed in right now. While Keenan Reynolds and the Midshipmen come into this game having only passed 27 times on the season, 14 successfully, but that may not matter as the Irish has given up several big gains on the ground. So while the Irish are definitely on upset alert this week, I don’t think Navy has the defense to contain Deshone Kizer and C.J. Prosise. NOTRE DAME 35, NAVY 31 (To read NCB’s preview of this game, click here.)
#21 OKLAHOMA STATE at WEST VIRGINIA (-7)
Were it not for some of the most egregious officiating ever witnessed (well, maybe not, this is the Big 12 we’re talking about) the Cowboys would be 3-2 right now instead of 5-0. West Virginia got beat up by Oklahoma last week but that secondary is still really darn good, and I think WVU quarterback Skyler Howard finds the Pokes’ defense to his liking. WEST VIRGINIA 35, OKLAHOMA STATE 24
#2 TCU at KANSAS STATE (+9.5)
Is TCU back to normal? After a few shaky weeks the Horned Frogs finally looked like we expected in a 50-7 rout of the Texas Longhorns. On the other hand, the Wildcats are starting a collection of spare parts from the med center at quarterback. While that might be Bill Snyder‘s prototypical quarterback, TCU rolls a second straight week. TCU 41, KANSAS STATE 24
MIAMI at #12 FLORIDA STATE (-9)
Florida State may be missing Dalvin Cook, but the Hurricanes are so abysmal in run defense it may not matter. Brad Kaaya and the ‘Canes have looked occasionally awesome (mostly when gutting hapless Nebraska Cornhusker defenders) but mostly like, well . . . FLORIDA STATE 31, MIAMI 17
#23 CAL at #5 UTAH (-7.5)
It’s got all the makings of a shootout, with the Cal offense in full Bear Raid mode and the Utah offense coming off hanging 62 on a defending playoff team. Despite the offensive accolades of both units, I think Utah has the clear upper hand in this one. Cal has feasted off opponents’ turnovers in 2015 at a margin of plus-eight, but Utah doesn’t turn the ball over, plays better defense, and finishes drives better than almost anyone else (6.46 points per trip inside the 40, second in the nation). UTAH 38, CAL 28 (To read NCB’s preview of this game, click here.)