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

The English Winter Break is in play for the first time this season and I think it has not gone as well as the Premier League and the top clu...

Friday, 4 October 2019

College Football Week 6 Picks 2019 (October 5th)

Things did not go very well for the NFL Picks last week, but the Week 5 College Football Picks had a very strong showing with a 6-1 record to turn the season form around.

It is by far the best week I have had in the 2019 season and I don't want to lose any momentum in Week 6 which looks another tough one as we continue trying to find some separation for those chasing the College Football PlayOff berths.

In Week 5 we almost had the cat amongst the pigeons as the Clemson Tigers came within a two point conversion of losing to the North Carolina Tar Heels. A defeat would not have been fatal for the chances of the Tigers to try and defend their National Championship in December, but it certainly would have boosted the chances of the other Power 5 Conferences as long as they had unbeaten Champions.

I still think the Tigers and the Alabama Crimson Tide will always be forgiven one loss if there are one loss Champions from the other Power 5 Conferences, but it would be much more difficult if the other teams are unbeaten.

Ultimately Clemson survived and I am expecting them to have them focus them for the rest of the season. They have a Bye Week this week, but the Tigers look like the sort of team I will want to back in Week 7 when they meet the Florida State Seminoles at home and looking for a statement win.

That is for another thread though and it will all depend on the line value- this week the focus is on the games to be played on Saturday and you can read my College Football Picks below as well as the see the updated totals from the 2019 season.

Iowa Hawkeyes @ Michigan Wolverines Pick: The last time the Michigan Wolverines and the Iowa Hawkeyes played one another was back in the 2016 season and it was the Hawkeyes who won the game as a 24 point underdog. They remain an underdog in 2019 in this game, but the Hawkeyes are much shorter price to win even though this game is going to be played in the Big House of Michigan.

It is a very big game for both in the Big Ten with the Hawkeyes looking to protect their unbeaten record in the Conference and overall. The Michigan Wolverines can't afford another defeat having been blown out by the Wisconsin Badgers and knowing they are in the same Division as the Ohio State Buckeyes who look even more improved from the 2018 season when they beat Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship Game.

The Wolverines bounced back from the disappointing loss to the Badgers by crushing Rutgers in Week 5, but this is a different sort of test for them. The Hawkeyes have shown they are amongst the best teams in the Conference and playing with the confidence that comes by putting an unbeaten record in the line.

Michigan have been far from impressive in 2019 considering they were a popular choice as a team to make the College Football PlayOff and one of the main reasons they have been struggling is because there has been little ground Offense to speak of. They were supposed to have the best Offensive Line in the Big Ten, but the Wolverines have not been able to open many holes up front and the team are only producing 3.5 yards per carry.

They can't expect to have a lot of joy running the ball against the Iowa Defensive Line which may not be as strong as last season, but who have held teams to 3.5 yards per carry up front. The Hawkeyes will be looking to clamp down on any run options that Michigan try and run and it will then force Shea Patterson to show he can lead the Wolverines at Quarter Back better than he has so far this season.

Patterson had a big game against the Scarlet Knights in Week 5, but it is very different throwing against the Hawkeyes Secondary when left in third and long spots. Iowa do get some pressure up front when the Quarter Back drops back to pass, but the Secondary is a strength alone and they should be able to stall some drives and force Field Goals rather than giving up Touchdowns.

Toren Young and the Iowa rushing Offense should have a much better time trying to establish the run after seeing both Army and Wisconsin punish the Wolverines Defensive Line. Both of those teams had success on the ground and Iowa have been strong on the Offensive Line to at least bust a couple of big runs which is only going to make things a little more comfortable for Nate Stanley at Quarter Back.

Having Alaric Jackson back on the Offensive Line could be a huge boost for Iowa too, and that should offer Stanley the protection he needs when he does drop back to throw the ball. The Michigan Secondary has not really been tested yet as the likes of Army and Wisconsin were getting what they wanted on the ground, but Stanley should have success in moving the chains if he is playing from third and manageable spots on the field.

It won't be easy for Iowa playing on the road in a tough atmosphere, but having the hook on the handicap to go through the key number 3 is a huge bonus here. College Football Overtime rules do make the 3.5 line a little weaker than the same line would be in the NFL, but Iowa have every chance of winning this one outright.

The underdog has improved to 11-3 against the spread in the last fourteen in the series between these schools. Michigan have some poor overall trends which have to be taken into consideration and the one that looks particularly worrying is that they are 6-14 against the spread against undefeated opponents under Jim Harbaugh including failing to cover in the last eight in that spot.

It looks like taking the points is the right play here with the underdog capable of earning the upset outright.

Kent State Golden Flashes @ Wisconsin Badgers Pick: After finishing 8-5 in the 2018 College Football season, the Wisconsin Badgers came into the 2019 season with 6 returning starters on both sides of the ball and considered behind the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten West Division.

Things could not have gone much better through the first five weeks of the 2019 season though as the Badgers have compiled a 4-0 record and have a win over the Big Ten pre-season favourite Michigan Wolverines at home. Fans will be looking at a potential berth in the College Football PlayOffs in December, but Paul Chryst won't be letting his players get too carried away with some big tests to come in the remainder of the season.

One of those is not taking place this week as the Badgers go into Week 6 as big favourites to beat the Kent State Golden Flashes from the MAC. Kent State are coming out of a Bye Week so they should be fully prepared to take advantage if Wisconsin are not 100% focused after a tighter than expected win over the Northwestern Wildcats, but it is a tall task for a team that ended 2018 with a 2-10 record and have already been beaten comfortably by Power 5 schools Arizona State and Auburn.

The Golden Flashes have already matched the 2018 total number of wins, and they are 1-0 in Conference play with a big game against the Akron Zips on deck. That is going to be the priority for Kent State too so being able to compete for 60 minutes against a physical team like the Badgers is not ideal.

Jonathan Taylor is expected to be a leading contender for the Heisman Trophy and the Running Back for the Wisconsin Badgers is expected to have a very big game in this one to just make a few headlines. The Badgers Offensive Line has opened up holes for 5.3 yards per carry and Taylor should be able to run behind that Line bullying Kent State up front who have allowed 5.2 yards per carry across their last three games.

Jack Coan has not been asked to do too much from the Quarter Back position with the team being able to run the ball as effectively as they have in 2019. I expect to see more of the same with Wisconsin hammering the Kent State Defensive Line up front and opening up some play-action for Coan who should be well protected with the run slowing down the pass rush offered by the Golden Flashes.

I have to respect the improvements that Kent State look to be making and this is a team that may have more successes in the MAC than most expected. Head Coach Sean Lewis deserves respect for that, but they have been largely outplayed by the Power 5 schools they have played in 2019 and there isn't going to be a lot of room for Offensive success in this game.

Kent State did rack up 750 Offensive yards in their crushing of the Bowling Green Falcons two weeks ago, but the level of competition ramps up significantly in this one. They won't be able to establish the run against a Wisconsin Defensive Line that has held opponents to 1.9 yards per carry and who will then force Dustin Crum to try and beat them from the Quarter Back position.

The problem for Crum is that the Kent State Offensive Line has not been able to protect him too well this season so far and Wisconsin's pass rush should be all around him with the team left in third and long too often on Saturday. The Wisconsin Secondary have been playing some very strong football thanks to the pressure they can get up front and the run game being clamped down on by the Defensive Line.

This is a huge number to cover for any team, especially as we can start to see teams beginning to ease off when in a big lead. However Wisconsin are 6-1 against the spread in the last seven games against the MAC and Kent State have lost by 23 points at Arizona State and 39 points at Auburn. The Badgers are much closer to the latter than the former in terms of talent and performance level being produced and I think they can be backed here to win by a very wide margin on the day.

Oklahoma Sooners @ Kansas Jayhawks Pick: Les Miles has been the Head Coach of a National Champion, but this is a tough project with the Kansas Jayhawks. This team finished 3-9 in 2018 and it is looking increasingly difficult to see how the Jayhawks can even match that number of victories in 2019 having been beaten in back to back games by the West Virginia Mountaineers and TCU Horned Frogs.

It shouldn't take a lot of motivate and refocus the players in Week 6 though as they get set to host the Oklahoma Sooners who remain unbeaten and the favourites to win the Big 12 Championship. Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray have both passed through Norman in the last two seasons and ended up the Number 1 Pick in the NFL Draft, but the Sooners don't look to be missing a step with Jalen Hurts transferred in from the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Hurts has won a National Championship with Alabama before losing the starting Quarter Back spot to Tua Tagovailoa, but he was influential in helping the Crimson Tide win the SEC Championship Game in 2018. The experience of the Quarter Back made him a comfortable fit for Lincoln Riley and the Sooners who have won 12 games in each of the last two seasons and look very much on course to reach that number again.

The Red River Rivalry is up next, but Oklahoma have managed to remain focused on the task at hand prior to that game with the Texas Longhorns. Oklahoma will know they can't afford to have a loss to a team like the Jayhawks if they are going be involved in the College Football PlayOffs and it is very difficult to see anything but a comfortable win for the Sooners.

Kennedy Brooks was hurt last week in the blowout win over the Texas Tech Red Raiders, but he is expected to be running the ball for the Sooners. Brooks and Trey Sermon along with mobile Quarter Back Jalen Hurts have helped the Sooners dominate their first four opponents on the ground and they are churning out 8.1 yards per carry on the season and are expected to punish the Kansas Defensive Line which has struggled to shut holes up front.

Jalen Hurts is also helping the Sooners produce almost 375 passing yards per game and that part of the Offense is opened up by the strong rushing Offense which is forcing teams to load the box. I expect the Quarter Back to have another big game to put on his Heisman chasing resume and Oklahoma will get very close to the 55 points they are averaging per game.

Even that number does not make the spread an easy one to cover and it will be up to the Defensive unit to show what they have learned from 2018 with the 8 returning starters on this side of the ball. Much will depend on how effective Kansas will be running the ball having been shut down by the TCU Defensive Line last week.

Some of the issues last week had to be down to the fact that Khalil Herbert has left the team meaning Pooka Williams has to bang into bodies for longer without being given a chance to rest up. Williams was shut down by the Horned Frogs in Week 5 and while I think he will have a bit more success in this one, it will be difficult for Kansas to really find some consistency up front.

Carter Stanley will need the running game to work efficiently to give him any kind of chance to have success in this one, but it looks a long shot for the Quarter Back. Any mistakes will likely see the Sooners pull away very quickly and I do think the Sooners will put together a statement by crushing this Conference opponent.

The Sooners should move the ball up and down the field all day, and Kansas are going into their Bye Week following this one which will give them a chance to reset. It is likely going to be two weeks of working out the kinks having seen the Sooners produce a big Offensive effort which should see them get ahead of this huge line.

Purdue Boilermakers @ Penn State Nittany Lions Pick: In Week 5 I picked the Penn State Nittany Lions to win in Maryland as less than a Touchdown favourite on the road. The blowout win might have contributed to the line in this one in Week 6, but you have to also factor in the injuries Purdue have suffered in the last game which means they are going to be inexperienced and facing one of the better Defenses in the Big Ten.

There is no denying that this is a very big line, but I am struggling to see how Purdue will compete having been beaten by 25, 24 and 38 points the last three times they have faced the Nittany Lions. Losing Elijah Sindelar, the starting Quarter Back, and Rondale Moore, the Number 1 Wide Receiver is a huge blow for Purdue and I really struggle to see them having a very productive Offensive day.

Jack Plummer is going to take over as Quarter Back for the Boilermakers who are likely going to be without Sindelar for the rest of 2019. Plummer has started against the TCU Horned Frogs without much success, but he looked more comfortable in relief against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in Week 5 and will be going into Happy Valley with some belief in his own abilities.

One of the problems for Plummer to have a lot of success in this one is that the Purdue Offensive Line has found it very difficult to establish the run. That is likely going to be the case in this one as Purdue face a Penn State Defensive Line which has held teams to 1.9 yards per carry in 2019 and will mean Plummer is being asked to move the chains through the air.

He should have some success even without Moore in the line up, but being in third and long means Plummer is going to face a strong Penn State pass rush. The pressure up front has been able to see the Penn State Secondary produce turnovers and that has to be a fear for Jack Plummer and likely meaning we are going to see plenty of drives stalled by the Nittany Lions.

It is much different for the Penn State Offense which should be able to do what they want in this one. The committee at Running Back have been running behind an Offensive Line which has opened holes to produce 5.5 yards per carry and they should be able to wear down the Boilermakers Defensive Line up front while keeping Sean Clifford in third and manageable positions.

Clifford had a very strong showing against the Maryland Terrapins last week and he should be able to pick up from where he left off. The Purdue struggles on the Defensive Line to stop the run has contributed to the Secondary having issues in coverage and I would expect Clifford to make plenty of big plays both through the air and on the ground.

The Purdue Boilermakers Defensive unit have given up 4.3 yards per carry on the ground and almost 300 yards per game through the air. That is not going to get it done in this game when they are going to be under pressure to score enough points on the Offensive side of the ball and I do think the Nittany Lions can pull away for a big win.

This is Homecoming for the Nittany Lions and they have been very good on this day and I do think they can cover a big line. That should also focus them ahead of an important game against the Iowa Hawkeyes in Week 7 and I will back the Nittany Lions as a big favourite.

Tulsa Golden Hurricane @ SMU Mustangs Pick: The Tulsa Golden Hurricane finished with just five wins combined in the last two seasons, but they have opened the season at 2-2 and will be looking for a potential Bowl bid this time around. The Golden Hurricane are about to get their American Athletic Conference schedule underway in Week 6 as they come into this game off a Bye Week.

They might have hoped for a better game than facing the hot SMU Mustangs who have opened the season at 5-0 to match the 2018 number of wins in Sonny Dykes' first season as Head Coach here. There is every hope that the Mustangs will have their most wins in a single season since 2011 when they won 8 games and some involved with this team will be asking for even more.

The Houston Cougars would have been a big threat in this Division, but they have already turned the attention towards the 2020 season, and that might leave the door open for the Mustangs who would have been underdogs in games at the Cougars and Memphis later this season.

Those games can wait until another day and Dykes will be looking to keep this team focused having shown huge Offensive output behind Quarter Back transfer Shane Buechele who has started games for the Texas Longhorns. Everyone knew the transfer of Buechele was going to have a real positive impact on the Mustangs, but it is the balance on the Offensive side of the ball which is most important for them.

SMU are running the ball with success and that just keeps things very comfortable for Shane Buechele to step back and make his plays through the air. I expect that balance to be shown on the field in Week 6 with the Tulsa Defensive Line allowing 4.7 yards per carry and the SMU Mustangs Offensive Line opening holes for the same each time the Running Backs get the ball.

The ability to run the ball means the Offensive Line have offered plenty of protection for the Quarter Back who should have plenty of time to make his reads and hit his targets down the field.

It might need plenty from the Offensive unit to put this game to bed and keep the Mustangs in the ranks of the unbeaten teams if their Secondary can't get to grips of this game. To be fair to the Mustangs, the numbers are something to do with the fact that they are scoring so many points that teams have to throw on them and I do think SMU can make the plays to stall drives.

It all begins up front where the SMU Defensive Line is restricting teams to 3.6 yards per carry for the season and that includes a game at the TCU Horned Frogs. There are a couple of talented Running Backs that Tulsa can call upon, but the Offensive Line has struggled to get Shamari Brooks and Corey Taylor going with the team only working on 2.4 yards per carry.

Brooks and Taylor will be given a chance to try and have success where other teams have failed and it is important for Zach Smith at Quarter Back. While he might feel he can have some success through the air, Smith is also playing behind an Offensive Line that have struggled in pass protection and now have to deal with the SMU Mustangs pass rush which has produced an average of 5 Sacks per game as teams drop back to throw their way back into games.

That pressure has led to the Secondary picking up Interceptions and also to Fumble recoveries and I really like the SMU Mustangs to cover this line this week.

Don't think the Mustangs would have forgotten the final game of 2018 when they were beaten by the Tulsa Golden Hurricane that cost them a sixth win and a chance to be invited into a Bowl Game. That should mean Sonny Dykes won't be asking his team to step off the gas and I think the Mustangs would have circled this game for some time.

Tulsa are 1-9 against the spread as underdogs of more than 2 points when playing off a Bye Week and their opponent is coming off a win and a cover of the spread. That is the scenario for them this week and I am looking for the Mustangs to make a statement and show they are ready to compete for the Conference Championship.

California Golden Bears @ Oregon Ducks Pick: They are well on their way to earning another Bowl Game, but the early season momentum behind the California Golden Bears was lost in the home defeat to the Arizona State Sun Devils in Week 5. The defeat at home ended their unbeaten start to the 2019 season as it looked like the Golden Bears could potentially be a threat in the Pac-12 North Division, but the injury to Quarter Back Chase Garbers shifted momentum away from the team.

Garbers is set to miss a number of weeks and the Golden Bears won't be given any respite as they get set to take on the Oregon Ducks who look to be the team to beat in this Division. They went into their Bye Week with a 3-1 record and the sole loss to the Auburn Tigers is looking better by the week with the way the Tigers are performing in the SEC.

Oregon are now the only team in this Division who are unbeaten in Conference games and that means they have the inside track to the Pac-12 Championship Game. The College Football PlayOffs might also be a reality if they can win the Conference without another loss, especially if the Ducks see the Auburn Tigers go on and win the SEC Championship.

The next five weeks will be very revealing for the Oregon Ducks who will face off with their main rivals in the Division, the Washington Huskies, but they can't afford to overlook California just because they are down to a backup Quarter Back. However it does have to be said that the Golden Bears looked pretty unconvincing Offensively when Garbers was playing and now will need Devon Modster to show what he has learned since transferring from the UCLA Bruins.

Modster struggled in relief of Garbers last week, but having a full seven days to get on top of the Offense will help. It would be nice if he is given some support from the California rushing Offense, but I wouldn't hold my breath considering the Golden Bears are averaging just 3.6 yards per carry and will likely see the Oregon Ducks sell out to stop the run.

It may not even need that concerted effort to clamp down on the run considering Oregon are allowing just 3 yards per carry on the season and have faced teams like Auburn and Stanford already. The Ducks look capable of clamping down on the run and then unleashing a pass rush after Devon Modster who is going to be under pressure for much of the evening in Eugene while struggling to find holes in an Oregon Secondary allowing 160 passing yards per game.

With that in mind I do find it tough to see how California will move the chains with any consistency, although the main reason for their successes so far in 2019 is the continued success of the Defensive unit. The Golden Bears were strong on this side of the ball in 2018 and have continued from where they left off with 7 starters back, but they are facing Justin Herbert who is a Quarter Back expected to be taken high in the next NFL Draft.

This is going to be a challenge for Herbert and the Oregon Offensive unit, but they showed they can get the better of the Golden Bears Defensive unit when these teams met in Berkeley last season. The Ducks should have a better chance of establishing the run than the Golden Bears and that should then open things up for Justin Herbert to make enough plays through the air to keep the First Downs coming.

There aren't many holes in the California Secondary, but Herbert is arguably the best Quarter Back they would have faced. I expect he will make enough plays to help the Ducks pull away in a difficult game and California just won't have the Offensive tools to keep up at Autzen Stadium.

It is a big line and the Golden Bears Defensive unit has to be respected, but Oregon beat them by 18 points on the road in 2018 and they are 7-1 against the spread in the last eight in this series. Oregon are also 20-8 against the spread in their last twenty-eight games off a Bye Week and I will look for the Ducks to not only remain unbeaten, but put a statement win on the board to show they are ready to perhaps even compete for a place in the College Football PlayOffs.

Oregon State Beavers @ UCLA Bruins Pick: Take away a very, very lucky win over the Washington State Cougars and the UCLA Bruins would still be searching for signs of progress under Head Coach Chip Kelly. There was a real sense of expectation that the Bruins would be much better in the second year of the Kelly system, especially with 19 starters back, but instead they are 1-4 and even reaching the three wins they achieved in 2018 is going to be far from easy.

They are favourites to beat the Oregon State Beavers in Week 6 of the season after the Beavers were defeated by the Stanford Cardinal in Week 5 to drop to 1-18 in Conference games. Jonathan Smith is still on course to lead the Beavers to at least match the two wins they achieved in 2018, while they have at least looked much more competitive in their last couple of games that should bode well for them.

Despite the loss to Stanford, Smith has to be encouraged by what he has seen from Oregon State and I do think they are going to have some successes against the UCLA Defensive unit which has struggled. The Beavers will feel they can establish the run which is always key to the success teams are going to have Offensively and doing that will also ease the pressure on Jake Luton at Quarter Back.

In the last three games played, UCLA's Defensive Line have struggled mightily when it comes to stopping the run and they have given up 6.1 yards per carry. They don't look like they are going to be able to stop Oregon State and that is key for the Beavers who are going to head to California with a real belief they can upset the odds here.

Jake Luton should have every chance of exploiting the big holes that have been evident in the UCLA Secondary and I do like the chances of Oregon State moving the ball consistently. The Quarter Back won't be put under pressure by a heavy pass rush and Luton has looked after the ball well enough to avoid the big Interceptions that can turn the game against his team.

The game feels like one that could develop into a shoot out, but UCLA might be missing Dorian Thompson-Robinson at Quarter Back and that is a real blow to what they want to do. Austin Burton would then be given the keys to the Offensive unit at Quarter Back, but it is a tough challenge for an inexperienced player when he is not likely to get the support on the ground to ease any pressure on his shoulders.

Joshua Kelly and the UCLA rushing Offense had their best game of the season against the Arizona Wildcats in Week 5, but the Oregon State Defensive Line has played well for much of the season. It was a rare productive day for the Bruins on the ground and I do think the Beavers might be wise to just make sure they don't have another one and see how Burton handles the pressure of having to make plays through the air to keep the Bruins moving.

The Beavers Secondary has not been impossible to throw against, but keeping Burton and the UCLA Offense in third and long will see the pass rush have a chance of getting home. It also would not be a big surprise if the Bruins see a young Quarter Back make a mistake or two through the air and I have to say I do really like the underdog here

UCLA are 0-3 against the spread as home favourites under Chip Kelly and Oregon State are 9-3 against the spread in their last twelve against a team who have a losing record at home.

With almost a full Touchdown start, I am taking the Oregon State Beavers in a game I very much believe they can win outright.

MY PICKS: Iowa Hawkeyes + 4 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Wisconsin Badgers - 35 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
Oklahoma Sooners - 31.5 Points @ 1.80 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Penn State Nittany Lions - 28.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
SMU Mustangs - 12.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
Oregon Ducks - 18.5 Points @ 2.00 Bet365 (1 Unit)
Oregon State Beavers + 6.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Victor (1 Unit)

Week 5: 6-1, + 4.40 Units (7 Units Staked, + 62.86% Yield)
Week 4: 3-2, + 0.73 Units (5 Units Staked, + 14.60% Yield)
Week 3: 3-5, - 2.18 Units (8 Units Staked, - 27.25% Yield)
Week 2: 5-7, - 2.57 Units (12 Units Staked, - 21.42% Yield)
Week 1: 3-2, + 0.67 Units (5 Units Staked, + 13.40% Yield)

Season 2019: 20-17, + 1.05 Units (37 Units Staked, + 2.84% Yield)

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