By Brad Carroll
This is a strange week in college football, especially when looking at the best matchups of the early games Saturday in Week 6.
Just one game will feature two ranked teams playing each other, No. 13 Northwestern at No. 18 Michigan, and the game won't even be readily available on television, as it is on the Big Ten Network. That's a strange home for such a big game with national interest. Oklahoma and Texas doesn't have the same ring to it as in year's past, but still should be a fun game to watch. Baylor could score 100 against Kansas, Clemson and Notre Dame have winnable games after both played an epic showdown last week, and Georgia looks to bounce back after an embarrassing loss to Alabama a week ago.
So, it's a an unusual afternoon of football, but there's still more than enough to keep everyone entertained. And we have analysis and picks against the spread for all of those games below. Check out our late Saturday picks here. And follow us on Twitter for all the college football previews and picks you could want here.
No. 10 Oklahoma at Texas, Cotton Bowl, 12 p.m., ABC
The Spread: Oklahoma -17; Texas +17
Analysis: There is no sugarcoating it: The Texas Longhorns are a complete mess. The once proud program has become a laughingstock, an embarrassing turn for a school that basically prints money. Texas has lost 11 of its last 12 games against ranked teams and was destroyed by TCU last week, 50-7. Now, the Longhorns have to face their biggest rival in one of the biggest events of the year in college football. The Red River Showdown could be the final stand of coach Charlie Strong, who came in with big expectations to turn the program around, but has failed so far. If the Longhorns get blown out of the Cotton Bowl, it wouldn't surprise if Strong was shown the door and Texas began the process of moving forward sooner than expected. Oklahoma, on the other hand, is trending up, coming off a huge win over West Virginia last week, 44-24. The undefeated Sooners average 42 points points per game, which could easily be met this week against a Texas defense that allows 38.2 points per game. Oklahoma has been so good this year, the games coming up against TCU and Baylor should be epic matchups, where anyone could make it through to the College Football Playoff. On paper Saturday, Oklahoma wins in a blowout, but I have to believe Strong will have his Longhorns ready for what could be his final game as head coach. Texas won't win, but it has to keep the game within a touchdown or two, or heads could roll.
Brad's Score: Oklahoma 38, Texas 28
Craig's Score: Oklahoma 41, Texas 27
Glenn's Score: Oklahoma 45, Texas 20
Matt's Score: Oklahoma 63, Texas 13
No. 3 Baylor at Kansas, 12 p.m., FS1
The Spread: Baylor -44.5; Kansas +44.5
Analysis: This is a scary game if you like watching competitive matchups ... and who doesn't? But with the rise of daily fantasy sports, and the ability to pick college football lineups, this is one game that is intriguing because of the potential points the Baylor offense could rack up. The Bears are undefeated at 4-0 and average 63.8 points per game on offense. The Jayhawks are winless at 0-4 and allow an average of 40.2 points per game on defense. This game could get out of hand before halftime, and likely will. Baylor quarterback Seth Russell, and a plethora of weapons, leads an explosive offense that scored 70 against Rice two weeks ago and 63 against a decent Texas Tech team, although its defense leaves much to be desired, last week. The shocking part of the Baylor offense is it actually averages more rushing yards (376.8) than it does passing (368.5). Kansas, meanwhile, lost by 25 to Iowa State last week. Unless Baylor sleepwalks through this game, the Bears will score at least 63, which makes covering this enormous spread realistic.
Brad's Score: Baylor 63, Kansas 10
Craig's Score: Baylor 63, Kansas 20
Glenn's Score: Baylor 56, Kansas 20
Matt's Score: Baylor 70, Kansas 21
Georgia Tech at No. 6 Clemson, 3:30 p.m., ABC
The Spread: Georgia Tech +7; Clemson -7
Analysis: Clemson has always had the reputation of losing games when it matters most, whether it was home or away. Last week, the Tigers finally bucked that trend with a two-point victory over visiting Notre Dame, a win that puts them in the driver seat for an ACC championship and possible spot in the College Football Playoff. Clemson has just one game remaining against a ranked team, No. 12 Florida State, and that game will be played in Death Valley. So, there is nothing stopping Clemson from finishing undefeated other than Clemson. The win over Notre Dame was a positive step, but there will be many questions surrounding Clemson the rest of the way, including whether it would even deserve a spot in the Playoff if it finishes undefeated. That fact makes every game Clemson plays a potential statement-maker. So, in a nutshell Clemson must beat Georgia Tech at home going away. Georgia Tech is not the team many thought it would be coming into the season, as the Jackets already have three losses, to Notre Dame, Duke and North Carolina. Georgia Tech couldn't even run the ball effectively during the three-game losing streak, and averages just 310.6 yards per game. Clemson needs a big win and should get it against a struggling Yellow Jackets side.
Brad's Score: Clemson 30, Georgia Tech 17
Craig's Score: Clemson 35, Georgia Tech 24
Glenn's Score: Clemson 24, Georgia Tech 16
Matt's Score: Clemson 34, Georgia Tech 13
Navy at No. 15 Notre Dame, 3:30 p.m., NBC
The Spread: Navy +14; Notre Dame -14
Analysis: Notre Dame's College Football Playoff hopes took a major hit last week after failing to convert a two-point conversation and falling 24-22 to Clemson. The Irish most likely would have had to finish undefeated to make the final tournament, but coach Brian Kelly is still hoping his team can make their way in by finishing without another defeat. The Irish have two huge challenges left, home to Southern Cal and then at Stanford, but if they pass both it's entirely possible they slip into the fourth slot. Of course, they would need help from around college football, including a loss along the way by Clemson for starters. Navy has had success against Notre Dame in the past, but when the Irish are ranked in the top 15, not so much, as the Midshipmen are 0-30. If Navy's defense can hold up, and it allows just 15 points per game, this game could be closer than history would expect. But Notre Dame needs a statement win in the worst way, and if the Irish players haven't let last week's loss kill their drive, they will win easily over the Midshipmen.
Brad's Score: Notre Dame 35, Navy 14
Craig's Score: Notre Dame 27, Navy 17
Glenn's Score: Notre Dame 24, Navy 21
Matt's Score: Notre Dame 56, Navy 20
No. 13 Northwestern at No. 18 Michigan, 3:30 p.m., BTN
The Spread: Northwestern +7; Michigan -7
Analysis: I can't imagine why Northwestern-Michigan wasn't picked up by a national television outlet, as it could be the best game of the entire week in college football, and one of just two games featuring ranked teams playing each other. But I digress. Both teams mirror each other on the field, with offenses that average in the mid-20s and allow just about a touchdown a game on defense. Northwestern is 4-0 with a victory over Stanford standing out even more impressively now with how well the Cardinal have played since. The Wildcats shut out Minnesota last week 27-0. Michigan has won four straight games since opening with a tough loss to now-No. 5 Utah, 24-17. The Wolverines, under new coach Jim Harbaugh, have pitched two shutouts in a row, over BYU and Maryland. If it wasn't for some untimely interceptions thrown by Jake Rudock against Utah, Michigan might be ranked in the top 10 right now. Saturday, the game should come down to who runs the ball the best, and Michigan will have the better of Northwestern in that area.
Brad's Score: Michigan 28, Northwestern 20
Craig's Score: Michigan 24, Northwestern 20
Glenn's Score: Michigan 31, Northwestern 17
Matt's Score: Northwestern 28, Michigan 20 (upset pick)
No. 19 Georgia at Tennessee, 3:30 p.m., CBS
The Spread: Georgia -3.5; Tennessee +3.5
Analysis: I'm actually legitimately mad at myself for picking Georgia last week to beat Alabama. For those that have followed these picks for more than a decade now, knows I have a theory on the Bulldogs ... simply, never trust them to win a big game. I went against that last week, and Georgia responded by getting blown out of its own building by a huge rival, in one of the biggest games that stadium has ever seen. Alabama won 38-10 in a game that wasn't even that close. It was a humiliating performance by Mark Richt and company, as his Bulldogs could have become national championship favorites, only to fall flat on their collective face. Now, Georgia must rebound quick against a Tennessee team looking for a signature win this season. The Vols have lost two straight games and are 2-3 overall, but did lose an overtime game to now-No. 10 Oklahoma and dropped a one-point decision to now-No. 11 Florida, so they aren't a true two-win team at this stage. Tennessee did lose 24-20 to Arkansas last week. Georgia, however, needs a bounce-back performance in the worst way, and since this isn't a big game, the Bulldogs get the road win.
Brad's Score: Georgia 31, Tennessee 24
Craig's Score: Georgia 31, Tennesee 27
Glenn's Score: Tennessee 24, Georgia 21 (upset pick)
Matt's Score: Georgia 45, Tennessee 10