Week 6 of the college football season has arrived, and we’re firing up some exciting bets for the Saturday slate. As a reminder, you can follow me on Twitter @wayne_sports_ to see all of the latest bets I’ve placed for both the NFL and college football. Last week was incredibly exciting as we went 15-5 overall, and I’m thrilled to get back to business as my reads continue to improve. This article will focus on my favorite bets from the Saturday slate in Week 6, but not every bet I place will make it in here. Again, be sure to follow my Twitter to see all of the college football plays I’m on. Let’s get to work.
College Football 2022 Record: 52-37-2 (58.4%)
Tennessee Volunteers at LSU Tigers
Game Info: Saturday, October 8, 12:00 PM EST
Tennessee had a well-timed bye week ahead of two tough games against LSU and Alabama, and Josh Heupel’s 6-1 record after a bye week is well worth noting in this spot. The Vols haven’t beaten the Tigers since 2005, and LSU has five straight wins in the series since then. However, this is a different Tennessee team with Hendon Hooker at quarterback.
Hooker has a combined 11 passing and rushing touchdowns through just four games, and he has led his offense to 48.5 points per game, the second-most in the country. Hooker is a very live Heisman candidate, and the Vols have the fourth-ranked offense in the country by FEI. Hooker ranks fifth in the country in QBR and has yet to throw an interception.
Hendon Hooker through 4 weeks:
• 90.3 QBR (1st in SEC)
• PFF’s highest graded SEC QB
• 1,193 PASS YDS (3rd in SEC)
The Volunteers QB is off to a HOT start 🔥 pic.twitter.com/FdBohP7P2H
— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) September 29, 2022
The LSU defense struggled to limit big plays against Auburn last week, and they allowed 8.6 yards per pass to the inexperienced Robby Ashford. As a result, they rank just 78th in tackling this year. The strength of the LSU defense is their pass rush, where they rank 23rd in the country. However, Hooker excels under pressure with a 115.4 passer rating that ranks sixth among passers with 15+ dropbacks under pressure.
On the other side of the ball, the Tennessee defense has a ton of issues. They rank just 119th in coverage this year, and they rank just 50th in defensive FEI overall. However, I don’t trust the LSU offense to take advantage. They only scored 14 points on offense against Auburn (they had a scoop and score), and they didn’t get their first offensive points until 15 seconds were left in the first half.
Hooker has been a far better passer than Jayden Daniels this season, and while the LSU defense arguably represents his biggest challenge of the season, Hooker was great against a similarly potent Florida pass rush. It helps that this isn’t a night game in Death Valley, and it helps that Tennessee is coming off its bye week. The Vols are ready to pull one back against their conference foe this week.
Best Bet: Tennessee -3 (bet to -3.5)
Texas Longhorns at Oklahoma Sooners
Game Info: Saturday, October 8, 12:00 PM EST
With both of these teams sitting at 3-2, this game has lost a lot of its luster, and its fair to wonder whether either of these teams has a real chance of winning the Big 12 this season. Nevertheless, this is a significant rivalry game that both teams will be turned up for. However, both Texas and Oklahoma are dealing with significant injuries at the quarterback position.
Oklahoma’s Dillon Gabriel took a scary hit against TCU last week, and it’s very difficult to imagine him playing this week. Davis Beville, a former three-star recruit for Pitt, took over for Gabriel, and he’s the likely starter this week. It will be tough for him to find great success against a Texas defense that ranks top-30 in coverage and pass rush grades per PFF. Oklahoma’s offensive line has been solid, but it won’t matter given the inexperience they’ll have under center.
On the other side, Texas’s Quinn Ewers is expected to make his return this week, and it would be a welcome sight for the offense. While things have been steady with Hudson Card under center, Ewers has immense upside that he started to show against Alabama as he completed nine of his first twelve passes against the Crimson Tide. If he returns, he’ll light up an Oklahoma defense that has looked dreadful in recent weeks.
Over their last two games, the Sooners have allowed a combined 94 points to Kansas State and TCU. Oklahoma surrendered a combined 90 carries for 636 yards and nine touchdowns over those two games, and now they have to face Bijan Robinson, who is considered a generational running back prospect. Robinson should have an incredible performance against a defense that ranks outside the top 100 in tackling.
This run from Bijan Robinson last year vs. OU was galvanizing! pic.twitter.com/wm4aTLKRbY
— Hook'em Headlines (@HookemHeadlines) October 5, 2022
I’ve faded Oklahoma for two straight weeks now, and I still don’t believe the market has properly adjusted to their defensive deficiencies. We knew the offense would take a step back after Lincoln Riley left, but Brent Venables hasn’t transformed the defense in the way we expected. With Texas getting healthier and Oklahoma dealing with a major injury to their starting quarterback, this game could get ugly, and I see the Longhorns winning by multiple scores.
Best Bet: Texas -6 (bet to -7)
Update: I submitted this article just prior to the news that Quinn Ewers will be playing this week, and the line has jumped all the way to Texas -9.5 in most places. If you missed out on the early line, you can still play it at that number, but just be aware that you’re missing out on some value. Regardless, the offensive trio of Ewers, Robinson, and Worthy will be far too much for Oklahoma’s defense to handle with how poor they have looked in recent weeks.
TCU Horned Frogs at Kansas Jayhawks
Game Info: Saturday, October 8, 12:00 PM EST
What a magical season it’s been for the Jayhawks. I bet on Kansas to win over 2.5 games this season, but I certainly never could have predicted an ascension quite like this. Lance Leipold is on top of every wish list for major programs with coaching vacancies, and College Game Day is headed to Lawrence for the first time in the history of the show. There’s plenty of excitement brewing for Kansas.
However, I unfortunately believe that this is the week to sell high on this team. I backed them one last time last week against Iowa State, and I got very lucky to escape with the cover. The Jayhawks were in just the 15th percentile for EPA per play on offense as Jalon Daniels only threw for 93 yards. Iowa State was the better team with more first downs and more yards, but they suffered from -6.4 points of turnover luck and -8.4 EPA from missed field goals.
This week, Kansas faces a TCU defense that isn’t quite as good as Iowa State’s, and they should have more offensive success. The Cyclones rank eighth in the country in defensive FEI, right between Clemson and Ohio State, while the Horned Frogs are ranked 46th. TCU’s defense is sound – they have the ninth-best tackling grade per PFF – but their lack of pass rush will make them susceptible to big passing plays from time to time.
However, TCU is at a significant advantage in this game due to its overpowering offense. Sonny Dykes hasn’t taken much time to implement his unique offensive system, and it’s hard to believe Max Duggan wasn’t the starting quarterback to begin the season with how well he has played. Duggan torched Brent Venables’ Oklahoma defense last week with 9.1 EPA passing and 7.0 EPA rushing, and his 90.7 QBR ranks third in the country.
Max Duggan is the first player with a 60-yd pass and rush TD in the same game vs a Power 5 opponent since Kyler Murray at Texas during his Heisman season.
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) October 1, 2022
Kansas’s defense ranks just 119th in FEI and has yet to face an opponent of TCU’s caliber offensively this season. Remember, this Jayhawks allowed 42.2 points per game last season, ranking 129th out of 130 FBS schools, and much of the personnel is the same. While the overall team quality has improved, the defense has a lot of work to do and isn’t prepared for the high-octane Dykes offense. We’ve seen plenty of line movement from open in this game, but I’m happy to lay the points with TCU at a touchdown or better.
Best Bet: TCU -6 (bet to -7)
UNC Tar Heels at Miami Hurricanes
Game Info: Saturday, October 8, 4:00 PM EST
The last time we saw Miami, they were getting boat raced by Middle Tennessee State in a game that wasn’t the slightest bit fluky. Tyler Van Dyke has looked awful this season for the most part, and he completed just 50% of his passes in that game before being benched. Whether it’s off-field issues, a lack of confidence, or a disconnect with coaching, he hasn’t looked like the NFL prospect we expected to see this season.
To make matters worse for Van Dyke, the Miami offense could be without their top two running backs, two wide receivers, and left tackle Zion Nelson this week. While UNC’s defense has had its early-season struggles, they shut out Virginia Tech in the second half last week and only allowed 92 yards of offense. That positive momentum should carry over into this matchup against a Miami offense still attempting to find its identity.
However, the bigger issue for the Hurricanes in the game against Middle Tennessee State was their poor defensive showing. Chase Cunningham, who finished with just 110 yards passing in Week 1 against James Madison, threw for 408 yards and three touchdowns against Miami. He finished with four big-time throws per PFF and had several splash plays on his way to a 16.3 YPA average.
Now, Miami has to face Drake Maye. When Sam Howell left for the NFL, I expected UNC’s offense to take some time to transition to a new identity. However, Maye has thrown for 1,584 yards and 18 touchdowns this year, both of which rank top five in the Power Five. He has the third-best passer rating of all Power Five quarterbacks with 50+ dropbacks. UNC has the third-graded passing attack in the country per PFF, and that’s been further bolstered by Josh Downs’ return to health.
At first glance, this should be a prime bounceback spot for the Hurricanes coming off a bye week following their miserable loss. However, Miami allowed multiple plays of 69+ yards against Middle Tennessee State, and UNC has one of the best offenses in the country. It will take time for Mario Cristobal to fix everything that’s wrong with this team. I’ll happily take the points with the team that has won three straight games in this series and has the much better quarterback.
Best Bet: UNC +4 (bet to +3)
Iowa Hawkeyes at Illinois Fighting Illini
Game Info: Saturday, October 8, 7:30 PM EST
As a Michigan fan, I was highly concerned for my team’s road game against Iowa last week, and while the Wolverines won and covered, I was impressed with the Hawkeyes. I knew the defense was excellent, but the offense was better than public perception would suggest. While some of it came in garbage time, Spencer Petras performed decently well as he completed 21 of 31 passes (67%) for 246 yards and a touchdown.
However, the strength of this Iowa team obviously remains its defense. Even after facing Michigan last week, Iowa remains the third-best defense by FEI and second-best via PFF’s grading. What they lack in true superstar NFL-caliber talent they make up for relentless discipline and attention to detail. Iowa also has the better kicking and punting games, and those things matter in a low-scoring game like this.
New Illinois quarterback Tommy DeVito has had a strong season to this point with nine touchdowns to just two interceptions, and his 80% adjusted completion rate ranks within the top ten passers in the FBS. However, it came against FCS Chattanooga and four FBS defenses that have an average pass defense efficiency ranking of 83rd. Iowa’s defense will challenge him in ways he hasn’t experienced this season. Slowing down Chase Brown will be a top priority for Iowa, as well, but this profiles as a difficult matchup for him.
I have to give the Illinois defense some credit after they completely shut down Braelon Allen, one of the best running backs in the country, last week. Allen ran for just 2 yards on eight carries, and the Wisconsin offense got nothing going all game. Illinois ranks 11th in the FBS in defensive FEI and first in defensive touchdowns per drive. They should be very capable of limiting an underwhelming Illinois offense.
First off, don’t watch this game. It’s going to be an ugly, low-scoring affair. However, I believe this represents a prime sell high spot for Illinois. Kirk Ferentz is 39-24 ATS (61.9%) on the road in games with single-digit spreads per Action Labs, making him the most profitable coach of 429 in the FBS over that span. I’ll happily take the points with the Hawkeyes in a series they have dominated as of late, winning eight straight matchups.
Best Bet: Iowa +4.5 (bet to +3)
Kansas State Wildcats at Iowa State Cyclones
Game Info: Saturday, October 8, 7:30 PM EST
This game presents a fascinating dichotomy between one of the best rushing offenses in the FBS and one of the best rushing defenses. Kansas State is surging on the back of Adrian Martinez and Deuce Vaughn who have helped the team average 267 rushing yards per game, and they absolutely gashed both Texas Tech and Oklahoma on the ground over the last two weeks. This matchup won’t be as easy.
Iowa State ranks 27th in adjusted defensive line yards this season compared to Kansas State who ranks 37th in adjusted offensive line yards per Football Outsiders. This is by far the best run defense the Wildcats have faced, although the inverse is also true as the Cyclones haven’t faced a one-two rushing punch this potent. That all sets up for a fascinating matchup with strength on strength.
75 yards rushing on the first drive of the game for Adrian Martinez😯
— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 1, 2022
However, this matchup will be decided on the other side of the ball for my money. Iowa State replaced longtime starting quarterback Brock Purdy with Hunter Dekkers, and I’ve been unimpressed with him. As you can see in the chart below via PFF, Dekkers has suffered anytime he’s faced Power Five competition this season. He has six turnover-worthy plays to four big-time throws against P5 defenses.
This week, Dekkers faces a Kansas State defense that ranks 19th in PFF’s coverage grades. It won’t help that Iowa State’s offensive line hasn’t improved this year and ranks 108th in pass-blocking per PFF. The Cyclones could also be without starting running back Jirehl Brock this week after he sustained an injury last week. His ability to replace Breece Hall in the backfield was a massive key to this season.
In my Big 12 preview before the season, I wrote about how Iowa State finished 2-5 in their one-score games and might be due for positive regression in that regard. However, the Cyclones are already 1-2 in one-score games this year, and kicker Jace Gilbert missed three field goals last week on their way to the loss to Kansas. In what should be another close game, I’ll bet on Kansas State’s rushing offense to edge out Iowa State’s rushing defense.
Best Bet: Kansas State -2 (bet to -3)
BYU Cougars at Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Game Info: Saturday, October 8, 7:30 PM EST
Marcus Freeman’s first year as the Notre Dame head coach hasn’t quite gone according to plan, but the Fighting Irish are coming off a much-needed bye week that will have given them the opportunity to reset. The last time we saw Notre Dame, they were running all over a hapless UNC defense with 287 total rushing yards. That’s the team the Irish want to be – a run-first, defensive-oriented outfit.
The Irish will have the opportunity to emphasize the ground game this week against BYU. The Cougars rank 119th in run defense and 127th in finishing drives on defense. Drew Pyne had a rough first outing against Cal, but he looked a lot better against UNC, and Freeman’s staff will have him ready to be a game manager this week. That’s truly all he needs to do as Audric Estime and Chris Tyree get the job done on the ground behind their elite offensive line.
Notre Dame LT Joe Alt (76) and TE Eli Raridon (9) part the seas for Audric Estime. pic.twitter.com/UPffjWSk3q
— Matt Freeman (@mattfreemanISD) September 27, 2022
On the other side of the ball, I expect Notre Dame’s defense to look a lot better coming out of the bye week. Several metrics are not favorable so far, but the Irish still rank 14th in defensive FEI and have tons of talent. Jaren Hall has had a great start to this season – his 12 passing touchdowns rank 19th in the country – but this is by far the best defense he’s had to face.
The Fighting Irish still feature NFL-caliber talent, particularly upfront with Isaiah Foskey, a potential first-round pick at defensive end. He’ll be matched up with an elite BYU offensive line that ranks second in pass-blocking per PFF. While BYU might be able to keep Notre Dame’s pass rush at bay, their secondary talent is excellent, and the Cougars are dealing with ongoing injuries to key skill players Puka Nacua and Chase Roberts.
Notre Dame also holds a significant advantage in special teams in this game. The Irish rank 16th in SP+ special teams this season while the Cougars rank 110th. Notre Dame ranks top-30 in kickoff, punt, and field goal efficiency per Football Outsiders, and BYU ranks near dead last in kickoff and field goal success rate. That big of a gap in special teams will make a significant difference in the outcome of this game.
I have faith in Marcus Freeman as a head coach, and I believe this team will be well prepared for this game coming off its bye week. While this is technically a neutral field in Las Vegas, Notre Dame fans travel incredibly well, and it could wind up a bit of an advantage for the Irish. Regardless, after BYU let Utah State hang around with its backup quarterback, I believe this Notre Dame team should roll.
Best Bet: Notre Dame -3 (bet to -4)
I’m working on putting out my whole card earlier in the week, and I have already placed a handful of bet for the Week 6 slate. However, I won’t have a full write-up for every game. The following are some of the other bets with a few words as to why I like that particular side.
Florida -11: Handicapping college football is as much about understanding situational circumstances as it is player matchups, and this situation is absolutely brutal for Missouri. One week after a tragic overtime loss to Auburn, Missouri played the game of their lives against Georgia but fell just short of beating the national champions as they lost 26-22. I can’t fathom how this team will get up after those two losses to face an overpowering Florida rushing offense. I love where Billy Napier has this program headed, and this could be a statement game for the Gators.
Ohio State -25.5: I was ready to fire on the spread in this game regardless of what the number was, and we’ve seen some movement towards the Buckeyes this week. Ohio State beat Michigan State 56-7 last year, and that was a Spartans team that finished 11-2 and had Kenneth Walker, a borderline Heisman candidate at running back. This is a much worse MSU team, and their secondary has been pathetic – they rank 107th in coverage grade per PFF. Look for the Buckeyes to roll to a massive win.
Western Kentucky +7: UTSA and Western Kentucky are two of my favorite non-Power Five teams to watch, and this game represents the rematch of the C-USA Championship from last year. The Roadrunners won both games by 6 and 8 points, but Sincere McCormick had a combined 324 rushing yards in those two games, and the Roadrunners haven’t had the same rushing threat without him. UTSA’s secondary ranks outside the top 100 in the FBS in coverage, and the Hilltoppers’ Austin Reed has had an awesome season with 1,667 yards and 17 touchdowns both ranking top five in the country. This should be a high-paced, exciting offensive matchup between he and Frank Harris, but I like the Hilltoppers catching seven points or more. The over is also likely in play in this game after these teams combined to average 94 points per game in their two 2021 matchups.
Mississippi State -5.5: We got Mississippi State very early in the week, and this line has already moved to -8.5 or -9 on most sportsbooks. I’m not nearly as sold on it at the current line, but I wanted to give it a quick shoutout. Will Rogers threw for 417 yards and four touchdowns against Texas A&M last week, and now he gets to face an Arkansas defense that has been dreadful in recent weeks. This is a significant letdown spot for Arkansas following the Alabama game, and K.J. Jefferson’s injury further clouds matters.
Will Rogers can fill it up through the air 😮💨 pic.twitter.com/EW64UsgTQl
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) October 1, 2022