Week 6 marks roughly the halfway point in the college football betting season, and by now a few things have become clear.
Congrats to SMU, Oklahoma State, Auburn and Louisiana-Lafayette: You’re the only remaining programs unbeaten against the spread.
Take a hike, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Vanderbilt, Akron and Florida International: You’re the only teams still winless against the spread.
Everyone else runs the gamut, from the surprising (Duke being a more reliable winner against the spread than either Alabama or Clemson) to the routine (LSU, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and Wisconsin being a combined 12-4). And if you like teams that put up points, LSU’s spread offense has the Tigers as one of just three teams (along with SMU and Charlotte) to have hit the over in each game this year.
Indeed, it’s getting interesting, and the finish is coming faster than we realize. Now on to the best bets for college football’s Week 6:
The ideal way to insulate a true freshman starting quarterback? Unleash one of the best running games in the SEC, which is what the Tigers have done behind tailback JaTarvious Whitlow.
Few teams in the nation are as effective as Auburn at grinding out yards, dominating time of possession and keeping opposing offenses off the field, which is exactly the formula to winning Saturday in the Swamp.
Florida backup quarterback Kyle Trask has done a fine job stepping in for injured starter Feleipe Franks, and that Gators defense is the real thing, but a soft schedule to this point leaves legitimate questions as to how good Florida really is.
Auburn has beaten two top-20 opponents to remain unbeaten overall and against the spread, making the Tigers the logical choice in Gainesville.
A rout of Rutgers last Saturday did little to qualm concerns over Michigan, given poor showings against Army and Wisconsin in its previous two games.
To restore confidence in both the program’s direction and head coach Jim Harbaugh, this one shapes up as a must-win for the Wolverines, who are 1-4 against the spread. But with the defense looking suspect and quarterback Shea Patterson looking hurt, it’s difficult to believe this team can flip a switch just for a big game in Ann Arbor.
Iowa isn’t showy, but quarterback Nate Stanley is solid, and the Hawkeyes’ lone loss against the spread this season came in that bizarre storm-delayed rivalry contest at Iowa State. They may not win outright, but they Hawkeyes are certainly capable of giving Michigan a close game.
Recent blowouts of Big 10 lesser lights Indiana and Northwestern have made this Michigan State offense look more potent than it really is, and reality should set in fast at the Horseshoe against an Ohio State team that almost scores at will.
Few teams in the nation look at impressive to this point as Ohio State, which is unbeaten against the spread (with one push) and hasn’t scored fewer than 42 points in a game this year.
Michigan State simply doesn’t have the offensive weapons to keep up with Justin Fields, J.K. Dobbins and company, and as for that Spartans defense — well, the last time Ohio State faced a defense that supposedly posed a challenge, the Buckeyes hammered Cincinnati 42-0.
That performance in Columbus has been the only misstep this season for the Bearcats, whose defense has taken care of business in every other game this year.
Cincinnati allowed more touchdowns in the loss at Ohio State (six) than in the rest of the season combined (five). And even including the lopsided numbers from that OSU matchup, the Bearcats still sport a top-25 defense that’s stingy in yards allowed per play (4.72).
Central Florida recovered from its loss at Pittsburgh by coasting past Connecticut last week, and Dillon Gabriel is providing the Knights some needed consistency at quarterback. But all the ingredients are in place for a close game Friday night at Nippert Stadium.
But for a curious call to run the quarterback speed option to the short side of the field on a potentially game-winning two-point conversion attempt, things might be very different this weekend for the Tar Heels.
But that near miss against Clemson only added to the unpredictability we’ve seen from North Carolina, which nearly upended No. 1 a week after losing to Appalachian State.
There’s no unpredictability to Georgia Tech — the Jackets are flat-out terrible, managing just a safety in a loss to Temple last weekend and falling to 0-4 against the spread in the process. Barring an epic letdown, this is the easiest game the Heels have until they face Mercer in late November, and giving Georgia Tech just 10 points on the road seems far too kind.