Every week throughout the season we’ll give you a college football viewing guide by highlighting the five best games of the coming weekend. We will pick those five games against the spread and highlight some other matchups that caught our eye from a betting perspective.
The beauty of college football will be on display in Week 6. If you looked at this list of games in the summer, you would have keyed in on two games: Alabama vs. Texas A&M and Oklahoma vs. Texas in the Red River Rivalry.
But that’s not the case any longer. Those games will attract attention, no doubt, but will likely have far fewer national implications than a ranked matchup between TCU and Kansas. Kansas has come out of nowhere to start the year 5-0 and now its coach is one of the hottest names on the coaching carousel.
Things certainly change quickly in this sport. What other surprises could be in store this weekend?
(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)
No. 8 Tennessee at No. 25 LSU
Time: Noon | TV: ESPN | Line: UT -3 | Total: 64.5
Tennessee already put an end to its losing streak to Florida this season. Can it do it again, this time with LSU? The Vols and Tigers haven’t met since 2017 and haven’t played in Baton Rouge since 2010. LSU has won five straight in the series with Tennessee’s last win coming in 2005.
This year, the Vols are 4-0 and boast one of the top offenses in the country under head coach Josh Heupel. Hendon Hooker, meanwhile, has emerged as one of the best quarterbacks in the country and a potential Heisman Trophy candidate. Coming off a bye, this will be the toughest test of the year so far for the Vols. A win here could set up one of the biggest games of the year with No. 1 Alabama visiting Knoxville next week.
LSU wants to play spoiler. The Tigers are off to a 4-1 start in their first season under Brian Kelly. Last week, LSU improbably overcame a 17-0 deficit to beat Auburn 21-17 on the road. Quarterback Jayden Daniels got banged up in the win but is expected to play vs. Tennessee. The Tigers need him as he leads the team in rushing as well as having 915 yards and six TDs through the air.
Nick Bromberg: UT -3, Sam Cooper: UT -3
No. 17 TCU at No. 19 Kansas
Time: Noon | TV: FS1 | Line: TCU -6.5 | Total: 68.5
Can Kansas’ unbelievable run to start the season continue? Improbably, the Jayhawks are 5-0, ranked for the first time since 2009 and hosting College GameDay for the first time ever. This is a program that hadn’t won more than three games in a season since 2009 and had gone 8-106 in Big 12 play over its previous 13 seasons. Lance Leipold has overseen this turnaround at head coach with quarterback Jalon Daniels playing at a high level.
TCU is playing incredibly well, too. The Horned Frogs are in their first year under Sonny Dykes and are 4-0 on the year. Their most recent result was a 55-24 thumping of Oklahoma. In the win, TCU had nearly 700 yards of offense and gashed the Sooners for four touchdowns of 60-plus yards. After initially losing the starting job out of camp, Max Duggan has been thriving in Dykes’ up-tempo system. He’ll be a handful for the Jayhawks to deal with in a game that could have heavy Big 12 title race implications.
Nick: Kansas +6.5, Sam: TCU -6.5
No. 11 Utah at No. 18 UCLA
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: Fox | Line: Utah -3.5 | Total: 64.5
Four teams remain undefeated in Pac-12 play so far this season. And with divisions eliminated, this conference title race could be very exciting. These are two of the main teams involved. UCLA, now 5-0, played four lackluster opponents to open the year before upsetting a ranked Washington team at home last Friday night. Dorian Thompson-Robinson turned in an epic performance in the win with 315 passing yards, 53 rushing yards and four total TDs. Zach Charbonnet was also excellent in the win, leading all rushers with 124 yards.
Thompson-Robinson, Charbonnet and wideout Jake Bobo are the three key players Utah’s defense will focus on on Saturday at the Rose Bowl. The Utes are the defending Pac-12 champions and have won four straight after a disappointing road loss to Florida in Week 1. The Utes have a strong defense and notched four interceptions in last week’s win over Oregon State. Offensively, the Utes are once again led by quarterback Cam Rising. He’s thrown for 1,153 yards and 13 touchdowns while completing 68.3% of his attempts.
Nick: Utah -3.5, Sam: UCLA +3.5
Washington State at No. 6 USC
Time: 7:30 p.m. | TV: Fox | Line: USC -13 | Total: 65.5
So far, so good for USC under Lincoln Riley. The Trojans are 5-0 and up to No. 6 in the AP poll headed into this weekend’s home game against Washington State. After barely squeaking past Oregon State the week prior, the Trojans handled Arizona State 42-25 without much drama last week. Caleb Williams was excellent once again, but did finally throw his first interception of the year. It was the first turnover of the year for USC, which is still No. 1 in the nation in turnover margin at plus-14.
Washington State, meanwhile, bounced back from a heartbreaking loss to Oregon by cruising past Cal 28-9 at home to improve to 4-1 on the year. It was a strong performance from the WSU defense, which limited Cal to just 31 rushing yards and 5-of-16 on third down. Cameron Ward had another 300-yard passing performance in the win, though he tossed two more interceptions to give him seven on the year. Ward is a dynamic talent, but needs to limit those turnovers if WSU wants to pull off a big upset at The Coliseum.
Nick: WSU +13, Sam: WSU +13
Texas A&M at No. 1 Alabama
Time: 8 p.m. | TV: CBS | Line: Alabama -24.5 | Total: 51.5
A few months ago, most expected massive stakes for this game. Jimbo Fisher and Nick Saban had some of the spiciest offseason drama in recent memory with a war of words over NIL, among other things. The two claim to have squashed their beef, but that defiant Fisher press conference will be on the minds of many as the Aggies and Crimson Tide line up in Tuscaloosa.
Texas A&M upset the Tide in College Station last fall. Alabama went on to the College Football Playoff while A&M disappointingly finished with four losses. This year, following another offseason of major recruiting successes, many expected A&M to potentially be in CFP contention. Instead, the Aggies are off to a 3-2 start and unranked entering this matchup. Alabama, meanwhile, is 5-0 and up to No. 1 in the rankings following a convincing win over Arkansas.
Bryce Young, Alabama’s Heisman-winning quarterback, is questionable to play due to a shoulder injury sustained in the Arkansas win. Nonetheless, Alabama is still a massive favorite. That says a lot about where these two programs currently stand.
Nick: Texas A&M +24.5, Sam: Alabama -24.5
Head-to-head ATS: Nick: 15-10, Sam: 13-12
Week 6 best bets
Nick Bromberg (Last week: 3-0, Overall: 10-5)
Army at No. 15 Wake Forest (-17): I do not expect this game to be the barnburner it was in 2021. Wake beat Army 70-56 in one of the wildest games of the season. This year, Army enters the matchup at 1-3 and is in the middle of the pack in scoring offense. While I think Wake will put up points, I don’t know if Army will keep up. Pick: Under 66.5
Southern Miss at Troy (-6.5): The Trojans have bounced back from a crushing defeat at Appalachian State with wins over Marshall and Western Kentucky while Southern Miss enters this game off a bye week and a win over a very good Tulane team. Troy appears to be the better team here and I’m rolling with them giving less than a TD at home. Pick: Troy -6.5
South Carolina at No. 13 Kentucky (-6): The Gamecocks are 3-2 but I’m not sure they’re any good. USC’s three wins have come against an FCS team and two FBS teams that each have just one win. They got blown out at home by Georgia and lost by 14 at Arkansas. Kentucky could have won at Ole Miss in Week 5 if it wasn’t for kicking woes and late turnovers. I’ll take the Wildcats to cover even if Will Levis doesn’t play. He could be a gametime decision after an injury suffered in that Ole Miss loss and the line has dropped as a result. Pick: Kentucky -6
Sam Cooper (Last week: 1-2, Overall: 11-4)
No. 9 Ole Miss (-17.5) at Vanderbilt: After a physical win over Kentucky, Ole Miss is going to lean on its ground attack and defense to take care of business on the road here. I think the Rebels will jump out to a comfortable lead and keep that clock moving in the second half. Pick: Under 62
North Carolina at Miami (-3.5): North Carolina’s offense is excellent and I expect Miami to come out much more focused after a bye week. Last time out, the Hurricanes got embarrassed by Middle Tennessee. The offense should be sharper against a lackluster UNC defense. Pick: Over 66
Washington State at No. 6 USC (-13): With a huge game against Utah on the horizon, this is a classic lookahead spot for USC. The Trojans looked like they were in cruise control mode against Arizona State last week. If they play like that against Washington State, this one could come down to the wire. Pick: Washington State +13
For other Week 6 picks from Sam Cooper, click here.
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