A top-five showdown between Penn State and Iowa, the Red River Showdown between Oklahoma and Texas and an SEC slate chock-full of interesting showdowns headlines this exciting week of college football.
What more could you possibly want this week? Oh yes, that’s right — best bets for today’s game, and I got you covered.
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Below are some of my favorite bets for today’s Week 6 college football slate, and this week, I have 11 total plays listed. Please note that there is no model involved with these picks, as they are independent of PFF Greenline.
No. 6 OKLAHOMA SOONERS vs No. 21 TEXAS LONGHORNS
Saturday, Oct. 9th | 12:00 PM EST | ABC
The Pick: Oklahoma -3
These two teams have had their highs and lows offensively, but at the end of the day, they are scoring. Oklahoma and Texas are first and second, respectively, among Power Five programs in scoring drive percentage. There is, however, more reason to be bullish on the Sooners heading into the Red River Showdown. Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler is struggling to throw the deep ball, but he’s been better than anyone in the country when throwing to the short and intermediate levels of the field. He owns the highest passing grade on non-deep throws this season and is still inside the top five in negatively graded throw rate overall despite the long ball woes.
Texas’ defense is built to prevent getting beat deep, which is why it is tied at 10th for the fewest deep passing attempts faced among Power-Five defenses. That said, they still are 15th-to-last in the Power Five with 312 deep passing yards allowed. Seven of those 10 attempts have been completed. In the short and intermediate passing game, the Longhorns have consistently allowed wide-open completions and chunk plays. They are allowing an open target over 78% of the time overall this season, which is the highest in the Power Five by over 13 percentage points. That has led them to the No. 55 ranking among Power-Five teams in yards per attempt against.
Rattler and the Sooners' passing offense could have their best performance of the year against the Longhorns' defense.
No. 4 PENN STATE NITTANY LIONS at No. 3 IOWA HAWKEYES
Saturday, Oct. 9th | 4:00 PM EST | FOX
The Pick: Iowa -1.5
Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford came back to reality last week against Indiana after shredding FCS school Villanova the week prior. He earned a poor 53.0 passing grade at home against the Hoosiers. Clifford had to make more throws to tight and closing windows downfield, but he couldn’t hit them. That’s no different than the quarterback we’ve seen over the past few years, and he isn’t going to see any higher rate of open throws created against this stout Iowa defense. Led by outside cornerback duo Matt Hankins and Riley Moss — who have combined for as many interceptions as first downs allowed in 2021 — the Hawkeyes rank second to only Georgia among Power-Five programs in team-coverage grade and EPA allowed per pass. Take the home favorite here.
No. 9 MICHIGAN WOLVERINES at NEBRASKA CORNHUSKERS
Saturday, Oct. 9th | 7:30 PM EST | ABC
The Pick: Michigan -3
Michigan has been a surprise team that could cause even more chaos in a crowded Big Ten. The defensive unit, led by new coordinator Mike Macdonald, has been the driving force to success. In fact, the Wolverines have one of the five highest-graded defenses in the Power Five. There’s plenty to like — including the growth of the outside corners, Daxton Hill covering the slot at a high level and Brad Hawkins making plays at deep safety — but Michigan's greatest strength is Aidan Hutchinson, who is a game-wrecker on the edge. He has been a force on a weekly basis in 2021, earning a single-game PFF grade above 73.0 in each of his five starts en route to a 91.5 overall mark that ranks second in the Power Five.
Michigan has a potent blitz package courtesy of Macdonald, who came from the Baltimore Ravens, but the Wolverines have been excellent at generating pressure without sending extra men. They rank fourth in the Power Five with a 43.6% pressure rate on non-blitzed dropbacks. This week, Michigan will match up against the lowest-graded team in the Power Five when it comes to pass protection.
Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez offers value with his legs and can turn a pressured dropback into a positive gain on a scramble, but he hasn’t performed well overall on such instances. His pressured passing grade sits at just 47.2 for the season.
Saturday, Oct. 9th | 8:00 PM EST | FOX
The Pick: USC -3
New Utah starting quarterback Cam Rising left a lot to be desired in Week 4 against Washington State. He earned a 57.7 passing grade and led the Utes to -0.2 EPA generated per play — ranking 53rd in the Power Five that week. And that’s with seeing a relatively low pressure rate. Utah, which has the sixth-worst pass-block grade among Power Five programs, will be facing a far superior pass-rush unit this weekend against USC. Tuli Tuipulotu and Drake Jackson have been one of the top edge duos in the country through Week 5, ranking fifth and eighth respectively among Power Five edge defenders in PFF grade. Utah has generated pressure on the opposing quarterbacks as well, but that group is reliant on blitzes to do so. That’s where Kedon Slovis, who is used to seeing light boxes and eight defenders in coverage, has performed well in that scenario throughout his career, amassing an 80.1 passing grade versus the blitz.
Related content for you: College Football Betting 2021: Week 6 college football over/under value picks via Darin Gardner
OTHER PLAYS I’M MAKING TODAY:
Saturday, Oct. 9th | 12:00 PM EST | FS1
The Pick: Over 44
Saturday, Oct. 9th | 12:00 PM EST | ESPN2
The Pick: Under 56.5
Saturday, Oct. 9th | 4:00 PM EST | SEC Network
The Pick: Under 69
Saturday, Oct. 9th | 7:00 PM EST
The Pick: Under 71