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Weekend Football Picks and Fantasy Football 2020 (February 8-17)

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Thursday, 6 October 2016

College Football Week 6 Picks 2016 (October 7-8)

Last week was a tremendously poor one for my picks from the College Football Week 5 season and has made a big impact on the season totals. I am fully expecting to bounce back this week, but I was frustrated with myself for getting the wrong teams down after looking at some of those I excluded from my shortlist.

You have to take the rough with the smooth though and there are still many weeks to go in the 2016 season to turn things around beginning with Week 6 as the Conference Games kick in.

I don't usually like the Midweek games which tend to have some funky things happen to them, but I am going to begin with a Friday night game for the second week in a row with the majority of the picks scheduled to take place on Saturday. Of course Hurricane Matthew might have something to say about that as it hits the East Coast of the United States so some of the College Games could be rescheduled or moved to Sunday.

Clemson Tigers @ Boston College Pick: The one thing that concerned me in this game is how the Clemson Tigers are going to be able to focus on the Boston College Eagles after that hugely emotional win over the Louisville Cardinals last week. Next week the Tigers host the North Carolina State Wolfpack who are likely the biggest threat to Clemson winning the ACC Atlantic Division at this point of the season.

However the Tigers have had a really difficult time against the Boston College Eagles when they last played here two seasons ago when coming through with a four point win and that should focus this squad. Clemson have some really big aims this season having lost in the National Championship Game last season and their win over Louisville suggests they can achieve those aims in what is a surprisingly strong ACC Conference.

It is a big number when you think how well the Boston College Defensive unit have played this season although the Eagles were blown out by the Virginia Tech Hokies, albeit on the road. The Eagles might be holding teams to just 2.3 yards per carry on the season, but they couldn't contain the Hokies and now they face a Clemson team that have a Quarter Back who is capable of moving the chains with his legs as well as his arm.

Virginia Tech had Jerod Evans do that when he threw for 5 Touchdown passes and also had 48 yards on the ground in the win over Boston College. Deshaun Watson is capable of replicating those numbers behind an Offensive Line which has protected him so well and given the Quarter Back a chance to make some really big plays down the field.

Boston College are a team that can get considerable pressure up front, but I am not sure they are going to have a lot of success getting to Watson and I think Clemson are going to be able to score at least 26 points for the fifth time in a row.

That doesn't really leap off the page when asking Clemson to cover this many points on the road, but that number might be enough for the Tigers in this game. The Eagles have produced some big numbers in their last two games against overmatched opponents, but they only managed 444 total Offensive yards against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech combined and Clemson's might be the best Defensive unit in the ACC.

They did use a really mobile Quarter Back last year to help, but Boston College have gone with Patrick Towles this time around and will be relying on his arm. I think that has been part of the reason that the Eagles have struggled to move the ball on the ground and they are not likely to have a lot of success doing that in this one.

It will heap the pressure on Towles to make the big plays from third and long situations and that won't be easy against a Defensive Secondary that have given up a little over 150 passing yards per game. That hasn't been made up against overmatched teams, but Clemson have played the likes of Auburn and Louisville and Towles might be back under the pressure that saw him throw 4 Interceptions in his first three games of the season.

Boston College have covered the last three times they have played Clemson and this is a good spot in which they are facing them. However I simply don't see the Eagles being able to score a lot of points in this one and the Tigers could have a couple of key turnovers which helps them pull away and cover what did initially feel a lot of points to overcome.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish @ NC State Wolfpack Pick: There were some real ambitions that Notre Dame Fighting Irish could force themselves into a Play Off position, but two losses to Michigan State and Duke have ended those hopes already. Brian Kelly is going to be on the hot seat for the remainder of the 2016 season and has made some moves on the staff to make sure his Notre Dame team can end with a much more positive feeling than they have started.

They visit the NC State Wolfpack on Saturday in what looks a really good game of Football with the Wolfpack recovering from their surprising loss to the East Carolina Pirates to move to 3-1. The Wolfpack can't overlook this game, but they have two huge Conference games after this one when they visit the Clemson Tigers and Louisville Cardinals, plus you have to say the Fighting Irish are a big enough game to have the players want to make a statement.

It is a balanced Offense that has helped the Wolfpack bounce back from a loss and they will be looking to use that to keep the Fighting Irish out of sync in this one. Notre Dame's Defensive unit has been very poor this season and underachieved in the first five games and a big reason the team are 2-3, but there were signs in the second half in the win over Syracuse that they might have found some big solutions to their issues.

That will not likely be enough to stop the Wolfpack who are averaging 40 points per game and who have almost 300 passing yards and over 200 rushing yards per game. Ryan Finley came in from Boise State and has played well as the starting Quarter Back with 9 Touchdown passes and no Interceptions, but this is a very difficult portion of their schedule.

Finley should have time to make his plays from Quarter Back and I don't think Notre Dame are going to be able to slow down the Wolfpack Offense as much as they would like. The Fighting Irish have also struggled to slow the run, but the second half performance against the Orange and some of the struggles against the East Carolina Pirates suggests Notre Dame can have some success on that side of the ball.

This Offense is certainly the most difficult one that NC State's Defensive unit will have played so far this season. DeShone Kizer responded to some of the criticisms from Coach Kelly with a big game against Syracuse, having a career high passing yards, and this is a team that might be underrated coming into this week.

It has the hallmarks of a really close game between these teams and the weather conditions likely mean it will be tough for the Offenses to move the chains with consistency. However I do think Notre Dame should not be coming in as an underdog here against a team that have yet to prove they are for real and I am going to take the Fighting Irish with the points. Notre Dame are now 8-4 against the spread as the road underdog with Brian Kelly as Head Coach and I think they keep this one close and potentially win outright.

TCU Horned Frogs @ Kansas Jayhawks Pick: There was an expectation that the TCU Horned Frogs would take a step back in the 2016 season, but they would have hoped to be better than 3-2 going into Week 6. They are looking to bounce back from a disappointing home loss to the Oklahoma Sooners although the coaching staff have made it clear that the Big 12 is far from lost.

It would be a big surprise if the Horned Frogs are not back to winning ways this week when they visit the Kansas Jayhawks, especially as the latter have come off back to back blow out losses. However the Jayhawks have matched up well with TCU since they have been in the same Conference and their four games have seen TCU win each, but only by a combined 34 points.

Kenny Hill has played well at Quarter Back since transferring over from Texas A&M and he looks to have the perfect match up to pull up his numbers even more. Hill had 449 passing yards in the loss against the Sooners with 5 Touchdown passes thrown, and now faces a Secondary that just gave up almost 550 yards through the air.

The Quarter Back should be well protected and I expect Hill will make some big plays through the air, although he might not need to with TCU likely being able to run the ball very easily on Saturday. Kyle Hicks should be able to keep the Horned Frogs in short yardage situations all day and I can't see TCU having too many issues moving the chains in this one and scoring Touchdowns at the end of their drives.

Even with that in mind, this still looks a lot of points for the Horned Frogs to cover when you think they have to outscore Kansas by over four converted Touchdowns. The Jayhawks aren't very good and they haven't played well as the home underdog with David Beaty as their Head Coach, but they are taking on a TCU Defense that have given away plenty of yards and points this season.

While the snaps have been split between two Quarter Backs, it looks like Beaty will go with Ryan Willis on Saturday and he does have 3 Touchdown passes with the sole Interception through the season. Willis will have to deal with the pressure that TCU have been able to get on the Quarter Back up front, but he should be able to make some big plays with his arm against a TCU team that have allowed at least 40 points in three of five games and have allowed some big numbers through the air.

The pressure will be on Willis not just because of the solid pass rush that TCU have generated but also because he won't have much support from a running game. Kansas have averaged just 91 yards per game on the ground and that is not likely to be improved on much in this one so Willis will have to make mistake free football to ensure Kansas stay within this big number.

TCU are dangerous coming off that loss to the Sooners but they are 5-12 against the spread as the away favourite in recent seasons. With the struggles against Kansas in mind too, I do think the Jayhawks are getting too many points and I will back them here. It might need a late Kansas garbage time Touchdown to get in the number, but I have calculated TCU as around a 22 point winner so getting almost a Touchdown more on the spread looks too much to ignore.

Tennessee Volunteers @ Texas A&M Aggies Pick: Two unbeaten teams in the SEC meet on Saturday, although the Tennessee Volunteers look in a much better position to be playing in the Championship Game in December. The reason for that is they have beaten their main rivals in the SEC East during this unbeaten start, but the Texas A&M Aggies will have to see off the likes of the Alabama Crimson Tide if they are going to win the SEC West.

In a quirk of the schedule, both the Volunteers and Aggies will be facing the Crimson Tide in their next game, although the Aggies will be heading into a bye week first. Both teams have opened the season at 5-0, although Tennessee have had a couple of close escapes albeit while managing a tougher schedule than the Aggies.

It has been important for Kevin Sumlin who had been under pressure as the Aggies Head Coach heading into the 2016 season having been linked with a number of other Head Coaching vacancies in recent seasons. No one will be getting excited just yet as Texas A&M have finished 8-5 in each of the last two seasons despite opening those years at 5-0 both times so this 5-0 record will only feel good if they can knock off the Volunteers.

Texas A&M have to be respected with wins at Auburn and South Carolina already on the board and they can thank a very strong running game headed up by Quarter Back Trevor Knight and Running Back Trayveon Williams. This will be challenged by the Tennessee Volunteers Defensive Line who have played well all season and controlling the line of scrimmage is going to be a key to this entire game.

The ability to establish the run has meant Knight has been under very little pressure when he does throw the ball down the field although this Tennessee Secondary have played well even with limited pressure up front. The key has been the ability to turn the ball over and I have no doubt that they will play a big part in the outcome of this game too.

The Volunteers will have to try and match what Texas A&M are able to do Offensively and they can't afford another slow start as they have had in a couple of games this season. Tennessee should be able to establish the run in this one which is going to be important for them to make sure they give Joshua Dobbs the time he needs to throw the ball. Jalen Hurd should be able to keep the team in third and manageable against a Defensive unit who have created plenty of havoc in opponents backfield all season.

They do get significant pressure up front so Dobbs is expected to be put under pressure by the pass rush when in third and long situations and he also needs to make sure he looks after the ball effectively. Overall the Texas A&M numbers look good Defensively, but they haven't been as effective when facing SEC opponents and I do think this Volunteers Offense can have success in this one too.

Texas A&M have played well as the home favourite in 2016, but they haven't been at their best in this spot in recent seasons and have at least one fortunate cover to their name. This will be the first time Tennessee are the underdog this season and I do think they are getting plenty of points considering they have won 11 games in a row and have the confidence of winning close matches.

Having a full Touchdown worth of points is very appealing and I think Tennessee are still the better team despite their inconsistent performances at time. I will back the Volunteers to cover in this game.

Syracuse Orange @ Wake Forest Demon Deacons Pick: Hurricane Matthew is expected to have a big impact on the NFL and College Football games to be played this weekend including the postponement of some. While this part of North Carolina might not have the full effect of the weather conditions, it is unlikely to be a great day to throw the ball for either the Syracuse Orange and Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

That might work in favour of Wake Forest as it should mean both teams are looking to run the ball and make sure they limit any turnovers they have. The Demon Deacons did lose for the first time last week to drop to 4-1, but there is still every chance they could have their best finish in the ACC Atlantic in recent seasons with a strong second half of the season.

It does mean Wake Forest won't want to drop a game like this one against Syracuse who have lost three of their last four games. The Orange have struggled to prevent teams from scoring points against them and I think the Wake Forest Demon Deacons can take advantage of things on that side of the ball.

The key is going to be the likely weather conditions which will make it tough to throw the ball. Wake Forest have been able to establish the run in 2016 and they will be facing a team that has given up over 200 yards per game on the ground. Matt Colburn and Cade Carney are the main threats to run the ball, but John Wolford is also capable of doing that at Quarter Back and he can make a few short throws against a team that has struggled to defend the pass to keep the running lanes open.

On the other hand Syracuse have not been able to run the ball effectively and are facing a Wake Forest Defensive Line who have allowed just 3.3 yards per carry. With Syracuse moving the ball at just 3.2 yards per carry themselves, I do think they are going to find it tougher to move the chains in the conditions we will likely see as they won't have an easy day throwing even against a Secondary that is far from a shut down one.

The Demon Deacons can also get a decent pass rush up front could put Eric Dungey who has played well, but who is now facing a tough day to throw the ball in his up-temp Offense.

My concern is that Wake Forest have not played well as a home favourite, but this looks a good day for them to play and establish their style of play on the Syracuse Orange and I expect the Demon Deacons to win and cover.

Florida State Seminoles @ Miami Hurricanes Pick: The Florida State Seminoles might have dominated the recent head to head with inter-State rivals the Miami Hurricanes, but the layers feel there has been a shift this time around. This time Florida State come in with a poor 3-2 record which has already ended their hopes of making it to the Play Offs compared with the Miami Hurricanes who are 4-0 and looking to be the pick of the ACC Coastal.

You have to respect a couple of the wins the Hurricanes have produced, but we are going to learn a lot about them over the next four weeks when they face the Seminoles, North Carolina, visit Virginia Tech and then visit Notre Dame. Mark Richt is in his first season in charge of the Hurricanes and had considerable success with the Georgia Bulldogs over the years as he looks to guide his team to a ACC Championship win which would send them into the Play Offs.

The Seminoles might not have a lot of hope of making the Championship Game having gone 0-2 in the Conference already, but they would love to play spoiler for their rivals. Florida State are certainly better than the record may indicate, but Defensively they have been a mess and need to improve considerably if they are going to match up with Miami who have looked balance Offensively.

Brad Kaaya is a Quarter Back that is almost certainly going to be playing at the next level, but it could be a tough weekend to throw the ball effectively when you think of the weather conditions expected in Florida. However Kaaya has been able to lean on a running game led by Mark Walton and that could be key this weekend against the Seminoles who simply haven't been able to stop the run against the Offenses they have faced so far.

If the conditions are as expected, Florida State can commit to more men stopping the run, but the key for the Seminoles is finding a way to challenge a Miami Defense that has played very well. The Hurricanes have not exactly played really strong Offenses, but they have faced the triple option run by Georgia Tech and showed they can slow the run enough to be an effective unit.

Dalvin Cook might have something to say about that for the Seminoles and he has to find a way to establish the run to protect his young Quarter Back who could be put under immense pressure from the Miami pass rush. Deondre Francois hasn't played badly at all from Quarter Back, but the conditions will likely mean he needs to lean on Cook all the more this week and try and get into a position where he is throwing from third and short if he needs to make plays with his arm.

I have a lot of respect for the way Miami have started this season, but this is the first big challenge for them to see how 'for real' they actually are. Florida State might only be 3-2 but they are battle hardened when you think of the games they have played and I like the Seminoles with the points this week.

They are 3-0 against the spread when coming off a loss over the last two seasons and games between these rivals have been tight, although Florida State have managed to win six in a row in the series. The Seminoles are getting the points this week and I am going to back them to keep this one close.

Auburn Tigers @ Mississippi State Bulldogs Pick: Neither the Auburn Tigers or the Mississippi State Bulldogs are expected to challenge in the tough SEC West, but the winner in Week 6 will have a chance to at least keep their hopes alive. On the other hand the losing team will be out of luck in the Conference race and will instead be focusing on becoming Bowl eligible through the rest of the way.

Auburn come into the game with a 3-2 record and their losses to the Clemson Tigers and Texas A&M Aggies have to be respected with both of those squads looking strong. The Bulldogs don't have the same losses on their record at 2-2 with a defeat to the LSU Tigers respectable, but the home loss to South Alabama won't be easily forgotten.

The Bulldogs will be looking for their dual-threat Quarter Back Nick Fitzgerald to make the big plays here and help Mississippi State establish the run. That has been a surprising weakness for Auburn's Defensive Line this season and I am expecting them to improve on the current numbers which have seen them give 4.3 yards per carry.

It will be tested by the Mississippi State Bulldogs this week and will be key for Auburn in trying to slow down this team. The Secondary haven't played badly and Auburn have gotten some decent pass rush pressure up front, but they will have to focus on Fitzgerald who is mobile enough to make plays with his legs when things break down in front of him.

The line of scrimmage is going to be important on both sides of the ball because the Auburn Tigers have the best rushing stats in the SEC but are facing a Mississippi State Defensive Line which has allowed just 3.5 yards per carry. The team that gains control of that battle is likely going to win this game, but the Bulldogs have overachieved in their first four games and I think they will be given a much tougher test by Auburn.

Sean White has been able to make some plays with his arm behind the running threat that Auburn have produced and he should be able to make some against this Bulldogs Secondary. That should keep the chains moving for the Tigers in this big Conference game.

Mississippi State have won three of the last four in the series, but I think Auburn can get the better of them in this one. I do think the Bulldogs will make some big plays, but I don't think they are quite as good as Auburn although turnovers are going to be important in this one. I just feel Auburn can control the line of scrimmage on both sides better than Mississippi State can and that will make the difference in this tight game.

Oklahoma Sooners v Texas Longhorns Pick: Bob Stoops and Charlie Strong will guide the Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns into the Red River Rivalry this weekend feeling a little warmer than they would want to. Both are sitting on the hot seat after poor starts to the 2016 season and so a win in this big game will at least ease some of the pressure that has to be building.

After reaching the Play Offs last season, Oklahoma came into the season as the favourite in the Big 12 which would perhaps lead to another shot at the National Championship. However they have opened the season with a 2-2 record and that is thanks to a win in Week 5 at the TCU Horned Frogs with their losses to Houston and Ohio State hard to overcome.

It looked to be a much more positive feeling for the Texas Longhorns who knocked off Notre Dame during a 2-0 start to the season. Since then they have lost back to back games including being blown out by the Oklahoma State Cowboys in Week 5 and that has led to Charlie Strong deciding he will call the Defensive plays in his last shot at redemption in Austin.

There is a lot at stake for both teams as they head to Dallas for this game and I think it is going to be a lot closer than the layers seem to think. The Sooners come into the game as a double digit favourite but they have lost two of their last three games against Texas and I believe the Longhorns have enough Offensive output to stay with them better than they did against the Cowboys last week.

Strong has taken over a Defensive unit that have allowed at least 47 points in three of their four games this season. It will be tough to slow down Baker Mayfield and the Sooners Offensive unit who are averaging just under 40 points per game on the season and it looks to be up to Mayfield to make the plays with his arm in this one.

That is because despite the poor amount of points being given up, Texas' Defensive Line have played well and limited what teams have been able to churn out on the ground. Some of that might be down to the fact that it has been easy to throw the ball against them, and this is a big challenge for Texas who have to face a strong Running Back unit this week.

It will be key for Mayfield as his Offensive Line have not been that good in pass protection despite the big numbers he has put up. The Texas Secondary might have had a hard time, but the Longhorns have gotten pressure up front and can have an impact on the Sooners Offensive output in this one.

Texas will feel they can have an impact in this game Offensively having played well on that side of the ball for the majority of the season. D'Onta Foreman might have a tough match up running the ball on paper, but the Sooners have not been as strong protecting the run as the numbers have shown because recent games have seen them give up a few more yards per carry than the overall season put together.

It would be huge for the Longhorns to establish Foreman because it does mean they can use the two Quarter Backs on their roster with Tyrone Swoopes mainly in for the short yardage plays. Shane Buechele has been well protected by his Offensive Line and he looks to have a good match up against an Oklahoma Secondary that have allowed almost 300 passing yards per game.

That does make me think the Longhorns can stay within this double digit spread that has been set in favour of Oklahoma. The Longhorns have covered in their last three Red River Rivalry game and each time as the underdog while winning two of those games outright.

Oklahoma are now 0-5 against the spread in recent games played on a neutral field compared with Texas who are 3-1 against the spread in the same situation. They do look to be getting too many points in this one and I will back Texas to cover.

Washington Huskies @ Oregon Ducks Pick: The Washington Huskies were picked as the pre-season favourite to win the Pac-12 North but their struggles against the Arizona Wildcats suggested that might have been too much to ask. However Chris Petersen guided the Boise State programme to considerable success and led Washington to a crushing win over the Stanford Cardinal on Friday in Week 5.

That puts Washington in a strong position in the Division to reach the Championship Game which would also put them in a position to get into the Play Off in December. They certainly will be trying to ignore the fact that the Oregon Ducks are 2-3 this season and already dropped to 0-2 in the Conference having struggled against them in recent years.

The strength of the Washington is the Defensive unit which is coming off a game where they shut down Christian McCaffrey and they are now facing an up-tempo Oregon Offense that has averaged 6.2 yards per carry. However they are going to find it tough to establish the run when you think of some of the struggles they have had throwing the ball and I think the Huskies are going to be able to earn enough penetration from their Defensive Line to force the Ducks to look for their Quarter Back to make big plays.

That is not going to be an easy task for Justin Herbert who is expected to be the first freshman Quarter Back to start for Oregon since 1983 as they look likely to replace Dakota Prucop. Herbert will be under intense pressure from the Washington pass rush who have been a disruptive force all season and that pressure has seen them lead the way in turnovers earned.

It will be up to Oregon to try and match the Defensive output that the Huskies are likely to produce but I am not sure they are going to be capable of doing that. Myles Gaskin and Lavon Coleman should have a really big day running the ball for Washington against this porous Oregon Defensive Line who have given up 5.0 yards per carry on the season but who have seen that number increase to 5.5 yards per carry in their last three games against Nebraska, Colorado and surprisingly Washington State.

Even trying to load the box won't be an answer as Washington have Jake Browning playing very well at Quarter Back and the Oregon Secondary have already been struggling. Oregon have given up 280 passing yards per game this season so Browning should be able to have his way whenever he decides to throw although the Quarter Back might not need to do so much with the Huskies likely able to run all over Oregon.

You can't ignore that this looks to be a big number for Washington to cover when you think they are on the road. However Oregon have struggled in their last three games which have all ended in losses and this is a Washington Defensive unit that should be able to make enough big plays on that side of the ball to allow their team to pull away for a double digit win on the road.

MY PICKS: Clemson Tigers - 17 Points @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Notre Dame Fighting Irish + 2.5 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Kansas Jayhawks + 28.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Tennessee Volunteers + 7 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Wake Forest Demon Deacons - 2.5 Points @ 1.86 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Florida State Seminoles + 3 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Auburn Tigers - 2.5 Points @ 1.86 Coral (1 Unit)
Texas Longhorns + 11.5 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
Washington Huskies - 9 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)

Week 5: 2-7-1, - 5.14 Units (10 Units Staked, - 51.40% Yield)
Week 46-3, + 2.59 Units (9 Units Staked, + 28.78% Yield)
Week 34-6, - 2.23 Units (10 Units Staked, - 22.3% Yield)
Week 24-5, - 1.32 Units (9 Units Staked, - 14.67% Yield)
Week 16-5, + 0.58 Units (11 Units Staked, + 5.27% Yield)

Season 201622-26-1, - 5.52 Units (49 Units Staked, - 0.01% Yield)

Season 201587-77-2, + 2.77 Units (166 Units Staked, + 1.67% Yield)
Season 201475-82-2, - 13.39 Units (172 Units Staked, - 7.78% Yield)
Season 201365-49-2, + 8.49 Units (124 Units Staked, + 6.85% Yield)
Season 201254-59-1 - 7.11 Units (114 Units Staked, - 6.24% Yield)

Season 201163-36, + 23.25 Units (99 Units Staked, + 23.5% Yield)

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