Week 6 of the 2020 college football season is top-heavy with a number of enormous matchups, the biggest of which will see D’Eriq King and the Miami Hurricanes take on Trevor Lawrence and the top-ranked Clemson Tigers.
With the help of PFF grades and advanced statistics — which are now available to PFF's CFB Premium Stats+ Subscribers — we will give you everything you need to know ahead of this week's top college football matchups. Please note that any picks and predictions made here are not reflective of PFF Greenline or our expert betting analysts. For this week's college football betting advice, click here!
Saturday, Oct. 10 — 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
Gators quarterback Kyle Trask looked more like his 2019 self in the team's Week 5 win over South Carolina, as he posted a middling 67.3 PFF grade while receiving a lot of help from his playmakers and the offensive scheme in general. Of his 21 completions, 18 were to a receiver with more than a couple of steps of separation from the defender. On throws to receivers who weren't charted as “open” by our graders, Trask went 3-of-10 for 66 yards and one interception.
Make no mistake, Trask showed his ceiling against a poor Ole Miss defense in Week 1, earning a 90.9 PFF grade for his efforts, but the jury is still out on whether he can ever replicate that type of performance.
The good news is that this Florida offense has been cooking regardless of the standard of quarterback play. The Gators have generated 0.33 expected points added (EPA) per play on offense through five weeks, the best mark in the FBS.
As for Texas A&M, their coverage unit is still reeling after getting exposed by the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Aggies stumbled to a team coverage grade of only 28.9 and were officially the first defense of the season to surrender a perfect passer rating of 158.3.
Quarterback Kellon Mond and the offense didn’t help much either, nor did they in their season opener against Vandy when they found themselves on the receiving end of an upset scare. Mond posted a 59.9 passing grade across those two contests; he has struggled to push the ball downfield and is yet to create any kind of magic with his legs.
Treash’s prediction: Florida is going to have their way with this A&M defense.
Seth’s prediction: UF. Kyle Trask has proved to be much more consistent than Kellen Mond.
No. 19 VIRGINIA TECH @ NO. 8 NORTH CAROLINA
Saturday, Oct. 10 — 12:00 p.m. ET, ABC
COVID-19 has had an untold impact on the Hokies' start to the 2020 season. The program has been without its best player, its quarterback, over 20 other players and defensive coordinator Justin Hamilton for both of their games, yet they still managed to come away with two victories.
The status of the aforementioned best player, cornerback Jermaine Waller, for this week’s matchup against the Tar Heels is currently unknown, but he is no doubt their X-factor if he is able to go.
The outside corner duo of Waller and Caleb Farley, who opted-out due to Coronavirus concerns and declared for the 2021 NFL Draft, was one of the best in the country in 2019. Farley may have received all of the fanfare, but Waller did just as much for the team last year. His timing at the catch point is superb, and he produced the highest forced incompletion rate in the FBS at 31.4%.
If Waller can go, he’ll be tasked with preventing North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell from returning to 2019 form. Howell is just one year removed from earning the second-best PFF grade ever given to a Power Five true freshman quarterback, but he's somehow gotten off to a bit of a rocky start in 2020.
Howell has earned a 71.4 passing grade through two games and has really struggled to find his deep ball, which was the backbone of his success last year. The UNC passer has tossed up eight deep balls of 20-plus yards this year and has connected on … zero. Last year, he had the second-most deep completions among Power Five quarterbacks.
Treash’s prediction: I am cautiously picking UNC. They need a Howell bounceback to pull off the W.
Seth’s prediction: UNC. I think we will finally see the real Sam Howell this week.
Saturday, Oct. 10 — 12:00 p.m. ET
LSU secured a much-needed bounce-back win last week. Granted, it was against Vanderbilt, but the coverage unit looked back to its best with Derek Stingley Jr. back in the fold after playing without him for the season opener against Mississippi State. The Tigers allowed the second-lowest EPA per pass play as Stingley and true freshman Eli Ricks proved to be one of the best outside cornerback tandems in college football.
After having Shawn Robinson and Connor Bazelak split reps at quarterback the first two weeks, Eli Drinkwitz and Missouri have decided to roll with Bazelak as their starter. The freshman signal-caller put on a solid performance overall against Tennessee last week, producing an 89.4 passing grade and a whopping four big-time throws. The only concerns are the three turnover-worthy plays that came with that, his tendency to not see receivers and what looked like a propensity to hold onto the ball far too long.
Treash’s prediction: I’m looking forward to seeing how Bazelak fares against this stout LSU defense, but I’m not expecting a close one here. LSU.
Seth’s prediction: LSU. The Tigers continue to work out the kinks ahead of the Florida game.
Saturday, Oct. 10 — 12:00 p.m. ET, FOX
We are only three games into the Big 12 season, and both the Longhorns and Sooners have let us all down.
Led by quarterback Sam Ehlinger, this Texas offense has been spotty in Big 12 play so far. The Longhorns generated a successful play (a play that earned positive expected points added) on only 40% of their passing plays against Texas Tech and TCU — that’s the third-worst figure in the conference so far.
Ehlinger earned a 74.8 passing grade across those two games, which is fine, but it is more than 10 grading points lower than his grade in Big 12 play a season ago.
A lot of this stems from his performance under pressure — he has the second-lowest pressured-passing grade in the conference, and it looks as though he's trying to do entirely too much outside of the structure of the offense. In his two Big 12 games, Ehlinger has scrambled outside the pocket on 14 plays. His grade on those plays? 24.9. Spencer Rattler, on the other hand, has produced a 93.8 passing grade on 30 such dropbacks.
Rattler has had a few poor throws himself — and, unfortunately, those throws have come at the worst possible times imaginable, as it was his final-drive picks that sealed upset losses to Kansas State and Iowa State — but he has still produced an impressive 91.5 passing grade on the year, the fourth-best in college football.
As bad as those game-sealing interceptions were, Rattler has limited negatively graded throws at one of the lowest rates in the country; he’s also doing his part in generating positively graded throws, a good chunk of which have come off-structure. The Oklahoma signal-caller is one of four quarterbacks to rank in the top 10 in both negatively graded and positively graded throw rate.
Treash’s prediction: I’m going with the better quarterback. Oklahoma.
Seth’s prediction: OU. I think OU is still the best team in the Big 12, so I'm excited to be proven wrong again.
Saturday, Oct. 10 — 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS
Georgia’s offense rolled right over a pretty good Auburn defense in last week's 27-6 rout. The Bulldogs have generated 0.3 EPA per pass play with Stetson Bennett under center, which would rank fourth in the SEC after four games had this been his job since the beginning.
Bennett presently ranks eighth among 82 FBS quarterbacks in positively graded throw rate. Of course, this metric is very often influenced by supporting cast and scheme, and Bennett’s case is no exception — 52% of his 10-plus-yard throws have targeted an open receiver, the highest rate in the SEC. Bennett has made plays himself, don't get me wrong, but he is being helped out.
Meanwhile, this Tennessee offense has looked surprisingly good so far. In fact, The program ranks fourth in the SEC in EPA generated per pass play, leaps and bounds ahead of last season when they were the fourth-worst in the same metric.
So far, the Volunteers have been able to overcome the inaccuracy of quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, who has logged a quarterback-fault incompletion on 26% of his throws, over three percentage points higher than any other Power Five quarterback.
Treash’s prediction: Stetson Bennett is a game manager, but that’s all Georgia needs to contend for the SEC title. Georgia.
Seth’s prediction: There's a lot to like about this Volunteer squad, but with Georgia finding a stable option at QB, they should be OK. UGA.
Saturday, Oct. 10 — 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
It's been a dream start for Cougars quarterback Zach Wilson, who has strung together three of his four best-graded games and has generated a PFF grade of 94.0 so far, trailing only Clemson's Trevor Lawrence for the best in the country.
The quality of competition has been extremely low, and he has benefitted from an abundance of clean pockets — he's been pressured on just 13% of his dropbacks so far, the second-lowest rate in FBS. That’s going to continue in this game against UTSA, and it will likely remain until they play a somewhat decent defense, probably Boise State in a month's time.
Treash’s prediction: Zach Wilson will continue to put up Heisman-worthy numbers against this cupcake schedule. BYU.
Seth’s prediction: The death machine rolls on. BYU.
TEXAS TECH @ NO. 24 IOWA STATE
Saturday, Oct. 10 — 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Cyclones quarterback Brock Purdy has kicked off his junior campaign with three consecutive sub-60.0 passing grades. In his two years prior, not once did he record back-to-back passing grades below 60.0.
The sharp timing and clockwork anticipatory throws have seemingly vanished altogether from his game. On top of that, Purdy has produced a 9.1% turnover-worthy play rate, which is three times bigger than his big-time throw rate. Unsurprisingly, it ranks dead last in the FBS.
The good news for Purdy is that he'll be taking on perhaps the worst secondary in the Power Five this week. The Red Raiders have earned a 36.3 team coverage grade in 2020, the second-worst in the FBS. If Purdy can’t rebound against this defense, it’s time to slam the panic button.
Treash’s prediction: Iowa State. Purdy is bound to bounce back at some point, and this is the kind of defense he can do it against.
Seth’s prediction: ISU. I'm really hoping for a Purdy bounce-back game.
Saturday, Oct. 10 — 4:00 p.m. ET, SECN
We’ve seen two very different Bo Nixs this year — one that was good but not great, and one that looked like one of the worst passers in the SEC. This was precisely the issue with him as a true freshman.
Nix followed up his 79.0 passing grade against Kentucky in Week 4 with a 58.8 passing grade against Georgia in Week 5. His accuracy has been all over the map, too, as he has thrown an uncatchable ball on 42% of his throws beyond the line of scrimmage this season, the second-worst rate in the Power Five. The biggest issue with his performance last week was his willingness to abandon the pocket quickly; he did that 14 times with nothing to show for it but a 39.1 passing grade.
Treash’s prediction: Auburn.
Seth’s prediction: Auburn. Arkansas is probably still not good.
Saturday, Oct. 10 — 6:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
The two most efficient passing offenses in the Power Five go toe-to-toe in this one. And we can't wait.
Crimson Tide quarterback Mac Jones is producing at an unreal level, earning a 92.4 PFF grade in both games for a 94.2 PFF overall grade on the year. Tua Tagovailoa, Jones' predecessor, recorded a 92.4 PFF single-game grade just once during his time at Alabama (four times if you count games with fewer than 20 dropbacks).
Jones’ ball placement has been superb so far, as just 7% of his throws beyond the line of scrimmage have been charted as uncatchable — five percentage points higher than any other Power Five quarterback. He’s also thrown 36% of those passes perfectly, according to PFF’s ball-location data, which also tops the charts in the Power Five.
Of course, he has the early favorite for receiving unit of the year at his disposal. Both Jaylen Waddle and DeVonta Smith currently rank in the top 10 in PFF receiving grade, and John Metchie is coming off a breakout performance that saw him catch 5-of-6 targets for 181 yards and two scores en route to an 85.1 PFF grade.
Lane Kiffin has drastically improved the Ole Miss passing attack from a season ago, raising the team's EPA per pass play mark from their 2019 figure of -0.04 to 0.53 to start the campaign. Matt Corral was named the starter over Rhys Plumlee for this season, and he is producing at a level he never sniffed last year, as he currently sits second among SEC signal-callers with a PFF grade of 87.7.
Treash’s prediction: Alabama, though I do think Lane Kiffin will make this a close one to start.
Seth’s prediction: Alabama. It's going to be Bama, but I hope Ole Miss' offense can at least put some scare into them.
No. 7 MIAMI (FL) @ NO. 1 CLEMSON
Saturday, Oct. 10 — 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC
This matchup figures to be one of the best games of the year — we have Lawrence producing at record levels while D’Eriq King leads the best Miami offense in decades.
Lawrence has been a different breed ever since he snapped out of his early 2019 season cold streak. Since Week 4 of 2019, Lawrence has recorded a 94.1 PFF grade, which is by far the best mark in college football over that span. If there was any flaw within his game — and this is being nitpicky — it was the small bouts of inaccuracy that would rear up every so often, but this year that has been far from an issue. Lawrence has thrown an accurate pass on 84% of his pass attempts that traveled beyond the line of scrimmage this year, the highest rate in college football by over 12 percentage points.
King has marked the start of his Miami tenure with three straight single-game grades north of 80.0 — something no Miami quarterback has done in the PFF College era.
King has a 90.2 PFF grade for the year, the fifth-best in college football. His athleticism has been put on full display on the ground, as well, where he has broken 0.32 tackles per attempt and averaged an FBS-leading 5.7 yards after contact per attempt.
Treash’s prediction: I hate picking against D’Eriq King, but no one is beating Clemson with the way Trevor Lawrence is playing right now.
Seth’s prediction: Clemson. It's hard to beat Trevor Lawrence right now, but I think Miami has some pieces to slow him down.
FLORIDA STATE @ NO. 5 NOTRE DAME
Saturday, Oct. 10 — 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC
This Florida State team's greatest strength was supposed to be its menacing defensive line, but they’ve been a let down so far, just like the rest of the team. Marvin Wilson, Cory Durden, Joshua Kaindoh, Robert Cooper and everyone else on the team have produced pass-rush grade below 70.0. As a whole, their pass-rush has generated a 22% pressure rate, the worst in the ACC. Keep in mind that they had a game against Jacksonville State, and they still couldn’t find a breakthrough.
Florida State may be without Cooper for this week, but even if he is available, it isn’t going to be easy for this unit to bounce back — they're facing an offensive line that is putting up record-setting numbers. All told, the Notre Dame offensive line has posted a PFF grade of 96.8, three grading points higher than any Power Five offensive line since 2016.
Treash’s prediction: Irish. The only exciting thing in this one will be the battle in the trenches between Notre Dame’s offensive line and Florida State’s defensive line.
Seth’s prediction: ND. This defense will get after the FSU quarterback from start to finish.