College Football Week 6 Best Bets – Saturday Slate (10/7/23)
Week 6 of the college football season has arrived, and we have you covered with best bets for the exciting Saturday slate. Check out our YouTube channel, as well, where we break down all of the big primetime games this week. Let’s get to work.
Jacob Wayne’s Record: 12-16-1 (-3.8 units)
Kody Malstrom’s Record: 6-6 (-0.6 units)
Will Schwartz’s Record: 9-4-1 (+4.6 units)
Alabama Crimson Tide Vs. Texas A&M Aggies
After betting Alabama big against Ole Miss two weeks ago, I’m backing Texas A&M to pull off the home upset here. With Bryce Young out last year, Alabama got the home win over Texas A&M largely due to their outstanding run game. The Tide ran for 288 yards at a 5.6 YPC rate. However, it seems that Texas A&M has shored up their run defense deficiencies from last year.
Texas A&M has an elite defensive line headlined by Walter Nolen, a former five-star recruit who has fully looked the part. The Aggies rank top 15 in both rushing success rate allowed and defensive line yards. That creates issues for an Alabama team that runs the ball at a top 15 rate and has lingering questions about its offensive line.
The weakness of the Texas A&M defense is its secondary as we saw on full display a couple of weeks ago – Tyler Van Dyke completed 70% of his passes for 374 yards and five touchdowns against them. However, Jalen Milroe isn’t nearly the same caliber of quarterback when he’s in traditional drop back settings.
Meanwhile, the Aggies’ offense has looked much improved this season with new offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino. Quarterback Connor Weigman’s season-ending foot injury is unfortunate, but it won’t ruin the offense as Max Johnson has graded out as an elite passer each of the last two weeks per PFF.
Texas A&M has two elite wide receivers in Evan Stewart and Ainias Smith, who have combined for 700 receiving yards. Alabama’s pass defense has been elite – they lead the country in coverage grades per PFF. However, they allowed Texas’s Quinn Ewers to complete 3 of 5 deep passes for 115 yards and 2 touchdowns a few weeks ago.
Ultimately, both defenses are well equipped to handle the opposing offensive approach. However, Texas A&M has the more well rounded offense and the gap between these teams has decreased significantly this year. I’m betting on Jimbo Fisher to get his second win over Nick Saban since becoming the head coach in 2018.
Best Bet: Texas A&M +2.5 (play to +1.5)
Author: Jacob Wayne
Colorado Buffaloes vs. Arizona State Sun Devils
I didn’t bet Colorado’s first game of the season against TCU as I didn’t know what to expect from this new look Deion Sanders team. However, I’ve hit on a bet in a Colorado game every week since, and this week, I’m looking to fade the Buffs after betting them big against USC.
Colorado’s roster has some fun top end talent, but the lack of depth in this roster has shown in recent weeks. This team made a heroic comeback to fall short on an onside kick last week, but they have to be running on empty – every game to this point has felt like the biggest game of their lives.
Meanwhile, Arizona State has shown new life in recent weeks as head coach Kenny Dillingham has taken over play calling duties. He thrived as Oregon’s offensive coordinator last season, leading one of the most efficient offenses in the country – the Buffs ranked second in the country in first downs per game and ranked top seven in EPA in passing and rushing.
The Sun Devils have rotated quarterbacks this season, but Trenton Bourguet appears to be the guy moving forward. He threw for 344 yards against a tough Cal defense on the road last week. He’ll be able to move the ball against a Colorado defense ranked 120th in overall success rate allowed.
Two weeks ago, Arizona State held USC to an 8% explosive play rate, which is in the 47th percentile. Caleb Williams had no problem moving the Trojans up and down the field with methodical drives, but it’s hard to imagine that being the case for a Colorado offense ranked 100th in rushing success rate and reliant on explosive passes.
Shedeur Sanders has been excellent this season, throwing for 15 touchdowns to two interceptions, but he’s facing a strong secondary that’s top 20 in EPA per dropback allowed and fifth in passing down explosiveness allowed. They aren’t on the same level as Oregon’s defense, but I still expect this to be a quieter game for Sanders, especially without Travis Hunter in the lineup.
For the first time all season, the hype machine of Colorado avoids national television and it seems like the media circus is dying down. A letdown spot will naturally follow suit, and Dillingham will capitalize as he looks to build a culture in his first year as the head coach. With Arizona State’s postseason ban, games like this provide a massive opportunity.
Best Bet: Arizona State +4.5 (play to +3.5)
Author: Jacob Wayne
Kentucky Wildcats vs. Georgia Bulldogs
Last week I said that the key to Kentucky’s success will need to be from the rushing production of Ray Davis. Little did I know that he was going to run as a man possessed and finish the contest rushing for 280 yards and three touchdowns. He received 26 attempts, averaging an insane 10.8 yards per rush.
His brilliance will be called upon again should they want to have a chance at generating the upset. Georgia just had a scare against the one dimensional Auburn offense, failing to limit any sort of rush production even though they know they have no pass attack.
An odd performance from the Bulldogs but not as surprising when you dig deeper into their metrics. We knew this Georgia team was weaker than years past, especially on the defensive end with stopping the run.
After years of near the top of the league metrics, it’s a shock to see how much this unit has regressed. Georgia currently ranks 38th in Def Rush Success Rate, 46th in Def Rush PPA, and 77th in Def Rush Explosiveness.
The inability to control the big gain from the ground will especially be vital for clearing our over as Kentucky has the chance to put themselves in scoring position at a moments notice. Especially with the run counter acting towards our bet with a draining clock, meaning we need the Wildcats to do their part more than over towards the over.
As for Georgia, it should be business as usual as their conservative short throw game plan will give Kentucky fits. Kentucky’s defense ranks 63rd in Def Pass Success Rate, routinely conceding the short gain which will give Georgia the ability to move the ball with ease.
With both offenses having massive advantages over each other’s defense, that’s more than enough for me to take an over at 49 or lower. Expect another brilliant Ray Davis performance backed behind an improved offensive line that is more than capable of pushing back Georgia’s defensive front.
Best Bet: Over 47.5 (Play to 49)
Author: Kody Malstrom
Washington State Cougars vs. UCLA Bruins
It was widely expected that the Bruins defense was going to have to carry this unit as they go through an offensive transition and they have done just that so far this season. UCLA’s defense grades out well above average across the board, ranking 35th in Def Success Rate, 7th in Def Explosiveness, 4th in Def Points per Opportunity, and 23rd in Havoc.
Their front seven has been especially key, generating relentless pressure to opposing backfields. They have done a masterful job at killing plays mid progression by collapsing the pocket and forcing quarterbacks to scramble out and make the play on the run.
They will need every bit of that defensive success against a Washington State unit who has turned into an offensive juggernaut. Especially through the air off the elite arm of Cameron Ward, currently ranking ninth in Off Pass Success Rate and 11th in Pass PPA.
UCLA certainly has the personnel to get the ball out of Ward’s hands faster than expected, giving their offense a chance to set a scoring pace that is too fast for WSU to keep up with. Any pressure helps as UCLA’s secondary dips in terms of metrics, ranking 55th in Def Success Rate.
Speaking of UCLA’s offense, they started the year with a quarterback battle and may have come out with hitting the jackpot. Dante Moore has flashed elite potential as a true freshman, possessing an elite arm in his own right.
While it was a tough go on the road against Utah, Moore eventually settled in and found success in a failed comeback opportunity. His deep ball throwing ability will especially be key, potentially finding himself with plenty of opportunities to connect on the big play against Washington State’s 93rd Def Pass Explosiveness rank.
Better yet for UCLA, passing lanes may be more wide open than they are accustomed to with Carson Steele poised for a monster performance. Limiting the ground game has been an issue for the Cougars defense, ranking 91st in Def Rush Success Rate and 86th in Def Rush Explosiveness.
With Steele in a position to command defensive attention and force the Cougars defense to stack the box, Moore should have no issue with picking apart the gaps in coverage and keeping the offense moving. With a defense that can stall out the WSU pass attack, take the Bruins at -3 or better as they get a bounceback win.
Best Bet: UCLA -3 (Play to -3)
Author: Kody Malstrom
Michigan Wolverines at Minnesota Golden Gophers
After seemingly sleepwalking through the early portion of their schedule, Michigan absolutely blew Nebraska out of the water en route to a 45-7 win, in which they scored the first 45 points before letting up a little bit. The Wolverines are getting healthy, with Will Johnson back and Mason Graham set to rejoin the defense, and Jim Harbaugh is back on the sideline; it’s officially time for Michigan to make the push for a National Championship.
They’re going up against a Minnesota defense that cannot stop the run, which is problematic when going up against a top-five run blocking offensive line, and probably the best running back duo in the country. That pairing is comprised of Blake Corum, the best back in college football, and speedy change-of-pace back Donovan Edwards, who gashed Ohio State last year in Corum’s absence. Quarterback J.J. McCarthy, the nation’s leader in total QBR, is also a serious threat to run the football, another factor for the Gophers to account for.
Minnesota’s air offense has been a disaster, as quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis has thrown more passes than any other quarterback that doesn’t have a single big time throw. The running game has been fine, but has taken a clear step back after the loss of record-setting runner Mohamed Ibrahim.
This team barely escaped from a home game against the Nebraska team that Michigan absolutely obliterated on the road, as the defense was solid- which is easy to do against Jeff Sims- but the offense couldn’t accomplish anything until the very last minute. With a significantly tougher Michigan defense coming to the Twin Cities, it’s hard to imagine Minnesota mustering much more than a single scoring drive, while the Wolverines should run the score up into at least the 30s.
Best Bet: Michigan -18.5 (Play to 19.5)
Author: Will Schwartz
Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Wisconsin Badgers
After Rutgers’s offseason win total projection was somewhere in the neighborhood of 4.5, the Scarlet Knights are just a win away from breaking that total. Rutgers has looked great to start the year with a top-25 defense in terms of EPA per play, as they shut down Northwestern and an improved Virginia Tech squad, and even held Michigan to a 14-7 score at halftime in Ann Arbor. The Knights have been driven by a pass rush that PFF considers to be 25th-best in the nation, led by star edge rusher Aaron Lewis, who has already recorded 3 sacks on 19 pressures this season.
The Rutgers offense is also 36th in the country in EPA per play, namely due to a strong rushing attack. Kyle Monangai has been the star with 471 rushing yards and 6 scores, while quarterback Gavin Wimsatt has also chipped in nicely on the ground. Wimsatt has also thrown the ball a bit better than expected this season, with five touchdowns compared to just one pick, and PFF agrees that he’s been careful with the football as he’s recorded just one turnover worthy play.
Conversely, the offensive revolution that was expected to come to Madison with the end of the Paul Chryst era has not yet taken place. As it turns out, Luke Fickell is not a magic spell that can erase decades of lethargy, and Phil Longo’s offense does not work nearly as well without Drake Maye running it. Tanner Mordecai has been fine, but not particularly productive as he’s thrown two touchdowns to three interceptions, due in part to a rough situation and some bad luck but he’ll need to do more than that.
The Wisco defense is good enough to stifle the Rutgers offense, the Badgers’ own offense will keep them from running away with this one. 14 is obviously a very key football number, so shop around to find it and don’t go any lower, but the Knights should make it a very uncomfortable home game for Wisconsin.
Best Bet: Rutgers +14 (Do not play any lower)
Author: Will Schwartz
LSU Tigers at Missouri Tigers
LSU was a preseason contender to make the college football playoff, and those hopes have vanished due to the fact that their defense could barely stop an FCS team if it had to. They did just that against Grambling, but that’s about the highest compliment they’re going to get.
Florida State positively exposed them on opening day with a 45-point explosion, Arkansas made things far too competitive in a 34-31 contest, and Ole Miss outgunned the Tigers by a score of 55-49 in the shootout of the year so far. The defense is 129th in EPA per play, and while playing two of the 10 best offenses in the country early on doesn’t help that number, it’s too low to fully justify.
Conversely, the LSU offense has been a juggernaut, especially of late. QB Jayden Daniels has been phenomenal, ranking fifth in PFF’s passer grade with 14 big time throws to four turnover worthy plays, and he’s contributed with some nice plays on the ground as well. Malik Nabers has lived up to the hype with 40 catches for 625 yards, while Brian Thomas Jr. is right behind in both categories and has grabbed eight touchdowns.
This is quietly a matchup of possibly the two best quarterbacks in the entire Southeastern Conference, as Missouri’s Brady Cook hasn’t thrown a pick all year, en route to a conference record for consecutive passes without turning it over. He’s second in the conference with a completion percentage of 74.5%, and has been throwing to the only wideout in the SEC with more catches and yards than Nabers; Luther Burden, who has racked up 43 and 644 thus far.
The total for LSU’s game last week was 67 last week and the actual number cracked 100; Vegas dropped the number even lower for this shootout between high-powered offenses. Take advantage of their mistake, learn where they did not, and invest in this over.
Best Bet: Over 64.5 (play to 65)
Author: Will Schwartz