After a run of weeks in which fans had to wait until primetime to see Saturday’s juiciest matchups, Week 6 cuts right to the chase, as Oklahoma and Texas meet at the Cotton Bowl for an early afternoon clash of top-20 teams. That’s only the first of multiple tests away from home for a few of this season’s most talked-about unbeatens: LSU heads to Gainesville to take on a suddenly feisty Florida team, and Notre Dame puts its perfect record on the line against Virginia Tech in what promises to be a raucous atmosphere at Lane Stadium.
Below, our writers and editors take turns defending their straight-up picks for the biggest games of the weekend.
Scooby Axson: 43–16 (72.9%)
Ross Dellenger: 41–18 (70.2%)
Molly Geary: 41–18 (69.5%)
Laken Litman: 39–20 (66.1%)
Andy Staples: 39–20 (66.1%)
Max Meyer: 38–21 (64.4%)
Joan Niesen: 38–21 (64.4%)
Eric Single: 36–23 (61.0%)
Oklahoma vs. Texas (Noon ET, FOX)
Andy Staples picks Oklahoma: Texas has stayed close to Oklahoma on the field in recent years despite being a very different program against other opponents. So what happens now that Texas seems to have solved the riddle of how to play well against other teams? Probably another nail-biter in the Cotton Bowl.
Maryland at Michigan (Noon ET, ABC)
Joan Niesen picks Michigan: Maryland has had its moments as one of September’s pleasant on-field surprises, and Michigan has had its moments of disappointment—or at least hinting at a a potential not yet reached. Still, that’s not enough to think the Terps can go into the Big House and pull out a win.
Boston College at NC State (12:30 p.m. ET, ACC Network)
Eric Single picks NC State: Boston College’s strength in the trenches will pose problems for the Wolfpack, who have already struggled to run the ball against inferior competition so far this year. But redshirt senior quarterback Ryan Finley has improved on his numbers from a very encouraging 2017 with help from junior Kelvin Harmon, who is one of the best receivers in the country few people outside the Triangle know about. The injury AJ Dillon sustained in the win over Temple last week will ultimately doom the Eagles’ chances of winning three straight in Raleigh (he’s a game-time decision, but the guess here is that even if he plays, it would be at less than 100%).
Florida State at Miami (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
Laken Litman picks Miami: Since losing its season opener to LSU, Miami has won its last four by a dominating score of 204–51. Granted, the opponents were Savannah State, Toledo, FIU and North Carolina, but the Hurricanes are also leading the country in tackles for loss (60) and leading the ACC in scoring (44.2 points per game). They have also switched quarterbacks from senior Malik Rosier to redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry. This game might be closer than people think given the rivalry factor and the fact that Florida State is coming off a comeback win over Louisville, but the Seminoles aren’t catching the Canes at the most vulnerable of times.
LSU at Florida (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS)
Ross Dellenger picks Florida: Todd Grantham’s Gators defense is hitting its stride at just the right time, with a home game against LSU and a neutral site game against Georgia bookending a road trip to Vanderbilt. The Tigers have a strong defense of their own and an offense that is steadily improving. Expect things to be decided on the last possession in Gainesville.
Iowa State at Oklahoma State (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Scooby Axson picks Oklahoma State: This game will come down to offense: Oklahoma State has one, Iowa State doesn’t. The Cyclones rank last in the Big 12 in rushing, scoring and total offense. Only UCLA and Rutgers have scored less than Iowa State, and those two teams have a combined record of 1–8.
Arizona State at Colorado (4 p.m. ET, Pac-12 Networks)
Max Meyer picks Arizona State: Colorado is the last undefeated Pac-12 team, but the Buffaloes have faced UCLA (winless), Nebraska (winless), Colorado State (1–4, with the one win coming against pitiful Arkansas) and New Hampshire (FCS). Arizona State, on the other hand, is battle-tested with a home win against Michigan State and tight road defeats at the hands of Washington and San Diego State. Both teams have exciting offenses, which should make for a high-scoring affair, but I’ll take the one with the best wideout in the country, N’Keal Harry.
Indiana at Ohio State (4 p.m. ET, FOX)
Molly Geary picks Ohio State: Ohio State needs to be careful about avoiding a letdown after last week’s emotional win over Penn State, but that should be a lot easier to do at home in Columbus. If Indiana is to have any chance at keeping it close, it likely needs to both decisively win the turnover battle and get a big day from running back Stevie Scott. In the Hoosiers’ loss to Michigan State a couple weeks ago, it only accomplished the former.
Kentucky at Texas A&M (7 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Laken Litman picks Kentucky: You know what they say, never bet against Kentucky football. Actually, maybe that’s the basketball team they say that about. Regardless, the Wildcats are off to a white-hot 5–0 start, and if they win in College Station, they’ll be 6–0 for the first time since 1950, back when the coach was Bear Bryant. Jimbo Fisher this week compared UK running back Benny Snell (639 yards, eight touchdowns) to Emmitt Smith, but he’s about to face the toughest run defense he’s seen this season as Texas A&M is holding opponents to 85 yards per game. On the other side of the ball, Aggies quarterback Kellen Mond hopes to avoid rush end Josh Allen, who leads the nation in tackles for loss (10.5) and is second in sacks (six).
Auburn at Mississippi State (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Ross Dellenger picks Mississippi State: Boy, talk about a meeting of disappointments. The Bulldogs and Tigers expected to field electric offenses entering the season, but both have limped around on that side of the ball. Defensively, they’re sound, so on the 10-year anniversary of AU’s 3–2 win in Starkville, maybe we’re in for another horror show.
Notre Dame at Virginia Tech (8 p.m. ET, ABC)
Joan Niesen picks Notre Dame: Virginia Tech remains a mystery, and as often as some of us have been burned in previous years by buying into Notre Dame too soon, this year’s team has it going. Between a defense that’s playing lights-out and Ian Book’s steady play at quarterback, I’m not worried about the Irish logging their first loss quite yet.
Utah at Stanford (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Max Meyer picks Stanford: We saw Stanford for what it really is on Saturday against Notre Dame. If you can eliminate the vertical passing game, the Cardinal are very beatable (admittedly, that’s easier said than done). Utah gave up 445 passing yards and 7.9 yards per attempt to Gardner Minshew in last weekend’s tight loss to Washington State, as its stellar pass defense numbers coming into the game were made to look fraudulent due to its prior competition. Facing K.J. Costello and JJ Arcega-Whiteside won’t be a walk in the park either, and I think Stanford will take care of business at home, with or without Bryce Love.