USA Today

Week Six College Football Viewing Guide

Oct. 8 -- UCLA doesn't play this week, and it's a terrible week for interesting games, but there are still a few worth watching...

This is a horrible week for games, just across the board, especially after last week, which was magnificent. Let’s fight through it together.

THURSDAY

Washington at No. 17 USC
6:00 P.M. ESPN
USC -17

What the hell happened to Chris Petersen’s offense? Washington has looked bad on offense most of the last year and a half, and you would really have expected to see some improvement, or at least some signs that there’s an actual plan in place, at this point. Washington is averaging 4.7 yards per play, which is grim, and the worst part is that’s a significant step down from last year, when the Huskies posted a bad-but-not-terribad 5.1 yards per play. If Washington keeps up at that pace, it’ll be the worst yards per play for a Huskies team since the winless team in 2008, which was so bad that it led to Washington hiring Steve Sarkisian.

Oh, hey, Steve, didn’t see you there. The Trojans just got the week off, and Sark is a literally astonishing 9-1 after a bye week. No, seriously, we were looking it up because Sark is possibly an empty windbreaker of a head coach and thought he’d be something like 3-7, but, nope, his teams at both Washington and USC have looked uncharacteristically prepared after bye weeks. It doesn’t really matter in this one, because Washington probably couldn’t score 30 points on air, but it’s an interesting note. USC might get limited a bit by Washington’s defense, and we’ll say the Trojans will be just disinterested enough to allow the Huskies to limp into the end zone a couple of times.

USC 35, Washington 14

SATURDAY

No. 7 LSU at South Carolina
9:00 A.M. ESPN
LSU -18.5

Annnnnnnnnd we begin the awful march through Saturday’s terrible games. No one seems to care that LSU’s offense consists of running Leonard Fournette into the middle of the opposing defense 25 times per game and then hoping the rest of the team doesn’t screw up too badly in the other 40 snaps. It’s a testament to Fournette’s ability that he is able to fool people into thinking LSU”s offensive scheme is anything other than a 2010s version of the most putrid Big Ten offense from the 1990s. None of that matters this week, of course, because South Carolina is comically bad.

LSU 38, South Carolina 13

No. 10 Oklahoma vs. Texas
9:00 A.M. ABC
Oklahoma -17

Texas is 1-4, and there’s a very real chance that the Longhorns are going to struggle to win four games this year. It’s so bad in Austin that there are already stories with sources claiming that Charlie Strong still has “breathing room”. Think about that: he’s not even halfway through his second season, and already there are sources who feel the need to say that, well, at least he’s not in any immediate danger of being canned. That’s incredible! Anyway, Oklahoma’s defense isn’t great, but Texas’ offense is a mess, so the Sooners are probably going to roll.

Oklahoma 34, Texas 14

No. 19 Georgia at Tennessee
12:30 P.M. CBS
Georgia -3

There’s an argument to be made that Tennessee under Butch Jones is the most underachieving program in the United States right now. The Volunteers have recruited really well over the last three years, but still manage to find new and agonizing ways to lose every week. Of course, Georgia, the reigning title holder for most underachieving program in the United States, doesn’t plan on giving up that belt without a fight after getting mollywhopped by Alabama last week at home as a favored team. We think Mark Richt’s long experience at being disappointing will ultimately prevail in this race to the bottom.

Tennessee 28, Georgia 24

No. 13 Northwestern at No. 18 Michigan
12:30 P.M., Big Ten Network
Michigan -7.5

Northwestern is a nice team with a good defense, but Michigan’s coach was designed in a lab to win football games and have an unnerving predilection for whole milk. We wouldn’t be stunned to see a third consecutive shutout for the Wolverines.

Michigan 24, Northwestern 10

Oregon State at Arizona
1:00 P.M., Fox Sports 1
Arizona -9

Anu Solomon is probable for this game, which has to be good news for the Wildcats, since they’ll have a quarterback who can actually throw a ball playing for them again. Whether he’s effective is a question mark, but Arizona desperately needs to add a consistent passing dimension to the offense again after a couple of weeks of Jerrard Randall looking wild. We’d like to see Oregon State commit heavily to the zone read against Arizona’s defense, since between Seth Collins and Storm Woods, the Beavers could probably run for about 300 yards on the Scooby Wright-less defense. In other news, our 7-5 prediction for Arizona is starting to look a little rosy.

Oregon State 31, Arizona 28

Washington State at Oregon
3:00 P.M., Pac-12 Network
Oregon -17

Just understand, we’re not picking Jeff Lockie to win a game, we’re picking Washington State’s special teams to lose another one.

Oregon 42, Washington State 28

No. 11 Florida at Missouri
4:30 P.M., SEC Network
Florida -5

And now it’s Florida’s turn to show why the SEC is wildly overrated every year! Missouri isn’t very good, though, and for the second straight week, the Tigers will be without quarterback Maty Mauk, which means that their already inept offense will get that much weaker. Florida might be good, but it’s impossible to say with any certainty since we’re still not sure what the pecking order is in the SEC, or if any of the teams in the league are even good. The Gators definitely have a good defense, and that alone should be enough to take care of Missouri.

Florida 13, Missouri 0

Colorado at Arizona State
7:00 P.M., Pac-12 Network
ASU -15

Colorado is so bad it couldn’t even beat Oregon last week...is a sentence that still probably doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I picked Colorado to win last week, and it looked like the Buffs had a real chance until the second half started and suddenly they looked like Colorado playing Oregon again. Colorado’s running game was stifled by Oregon’s mediocre run defense, and ASU’s run defense is a strength, which means Colorado could have a really long night offensively. With the Sun Devils hitting their stride offensively and defensively (thanks UCLA!), this could get a little ugly.

ASU 38, Colorado 17

No. 23 California at No. 5 Utah
7:00 P.M., ESPN
Utah -7

And the game we’ve all been waiting for, the one we’ve had circled on our calendars since January: Cal vs. Utah. Two unranked teams at the beginning of the year, these two are now the last remaining undefeated teams in the Pac-12, which more or less assures that the Pac-12 will not have an undefeated team this season. Utah hasn’t really been tested by a good offense this year -- Oregon was at peak “JEFF LOCKIE IS OUR QUARTERBACK OMG” when the Utes played the Ducks, and other than that, every team Utah has played has had a mostly poor offense. Cal is all offense, with the best quarterback Utah will have played this year, and Jared Goff has enough weapons in the receiving corps to attack Utah’s secondary. This could end up being a pretty high scoring game, and in that kind of contest, we have to roll with the team designed for those sorts of games.

California 35, Utah 31



Last Week: 10-5 ATS. Year ATS: 38-32. UCLA picks ATS: 5-0.


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