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Athlon's Braden Gall offers his top college football picks against the spread each week.
-by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)
Is going 8-3-1 against the spread a good thing? Because that is what happened last week, and I sure hope you got in on the action. I hit on my top four picks (Tech tied) as well as winning underdogs Northwestern, Arkansas, Washington and Michigan State. I have gone to the well multiple times with LSU, Alabama, Stanford and Georgia Tech this season, and Bama came through for me again last weekend.
As I dove into the Week 6 slate of college football action, I began to get a queasy feeling deep in my gut. There is not a lot to like this weekend.
Season Record ATS: 28-17-2 (8-3-1 last week)
Week 6's Top Picks:
UConn (+19.5) at West Virginia
The Huskies currently sit at 2-3 with losses to not-exactly-worldbeaters Iowa State, Vanderbilt and Western Michigan. UConn ranks 86th in the nation in scoring, and it appears hard to believe that it can score with WVU's 13th rated scoring attack. In fact, the Mountaineers have never lost to UConn in three meetings in Morgantown — scoring over 46 points per game in those wins. Geno Smith should have a field day after watching UConn give up 38 points and 479 yards to Western Michigan's Alex Carder last week. My Pick: West Virginia -19.5
Arizona State (-3.5) at Utah
The Utes, coming off an upset home loss to Washington in which they rushed for 17 yards on 23 carries, will be without starting quarterback Jordan Wynn. Instead, they turn to junior college transfer Jon Hays. The newcomer threw for 156 yards with one touchdown and one interception each in the second half. Arizona State has scored 78 points in its 2-0 Pac-12 start behind the powerful running of Cameron Marshall. The Sun Devils also held the Oregon State rushing game to 47 yards last week and will once again force the QB to beat them. The Utes' 91st-ranked pass defense will struggle against Arizona State, and Utah will start its Pac-12 existence 0-3. My Pick: Arizona State -3.5
Iowa (+4) at Penn State
The Hawkeyes have dominated this contest for the better part of a decade. They have won eight out of nine overall and five of the last six meetings in Beaver Stadium. Iowa, behind a very balanced offensive attack, have scored no less than 31 points in a game this season while Penn State has totalled 41 points against Temple, Indiana and Alabama (discounting the 34-point effort against Eastern Michigan). Iowa should win this game outright, so the four points are simply a nice little cushion. It doesn't hurt that Penn State is the only team in the nation 0-5 against the spread this fall. My Pick: Iowa +4
Louisville (-13.5) at North Carolina
The Cardinals are reeling after one of the worst BCS showings of the season. Louisville rushed for 60 yards on 29 carries in the 17-13 loss to Marshall last weekend. They are averaging just over 18 points per game to rank 105th in the nation in scoring. The Tar Heels are reaping the benefits of some of the most balanced offensive football in the nation (226 rushing, 230 passing last week). North Carolina has scored at least 28 points in three straight games and will ride tailback Giovani Bernard and quarterback Bryn Renner against a Louisville team that will be simply overmatched. North Carolina -13.5
Texas A&M (-9.5) at Texas Tech
The Red Raiders have won seven of the last eight meetings in Lubbock and are sporting one of the nation's most potent offenses. Tech is fourth in the nation in scoring at 47.25 points per game and seventh nationally at 525 yards per game. Texas A&M on the other hand is staggering around the ring after two second-half uppercuts to the jaw by Oklahoma State and Arkansas. The Aggies have allowed an alarming 948 yards passing in the last two, so look for Seth Doege and his plethora of talented skill players to keep this one close. No one wants to lose the last conference game ever played with the Aggies. Texas Tech +9.5
Boston College (-20.5) at Clemson
The Tigers have won three straight games over Auburn, Florida State and Virginia Tech. The Eagles have yet to beat an FBS opponent in 2011. With losses to Duke, UCF, Wake Forest and Northwestern, Boston College should pose no threat to the Tigers. They rank 99th in total offense and 98th in scoring offense, while Clemson is clicking on all cylinders. Tajh Boyd is playing brilliant football with 13 total touchdowns and only one interception over his last four games. BC lost 25-7 on its last trip to Death Valley, and this weekend should be even worse. My Pick: Clemson -20.5
If you are still feeling lucky:
Illinois (-14) at Indiana
Illini are getting to the quarterback, and Hoosiers are not protecting him. Illini big.
East Carolina (-11) at Houston
The Pirates are 100th in scoring defense this fall and should not slow Houston. Take the Cougars and the over.
Auburn (+10) at Arkansas
There is just no point in ever betting against Auburn — ever again. High-scoring, close game.
Michigan (-7) at Northwestern
The Wolverines have allowed a total of 10 points in three games. This team is starting to look shockingly like a Michigan football team.
Georgia (-1.5) at Tennessee
The Vols will not be able to run the ball — at all. The Dawgs are just the better team.
Florida (+13) at LSU
Jeff Driskel making his first career start in Death Valley? No thanks. Geaux Tigers.
4-0 Against the Spread: Georgia Tech (4-0-1), Rutgers, Stanford
4-1 Against the Spread: Alabama, Arkansas St, Cincinnati, Clemson, Florida, Marshall, Michigan, Temple, UTEP, Washington, Western Michigan, Wisconsin
3-1 Against the Spread: Baylor, Georgia (3-1-1), Kansas State, Missouri, Navy, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, Texas, Texas Tech, Utah State, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Washington State
0-5 Against the Spread: Penn State
0-4 Against the Spread: NC State (0-4-1), Oregon State
1-4 Against the Spread: Arizona State, Boston College, Central Michigan, Colorado State, UConn, Kent State, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Northern Illinois, UCLA, Tulane, Virginia, Virginia Tech
1-3 Against the Spread: Air Force, Florida State, Louisville, Maryland, Miami (Fla.), Miami (Ohio), Oregon State, Purdue, Rice, South Carolina (1-3-1), Texas A&M, TCU (1-3-1), Troy
Other Week 6 Content:
Mitch Light's Top Ten Match-ups of Week 6
Steven Lassan's Oklahoma-Texas In-depth Preview
Athlon Picks Every Game of the Week 6 Slate
Athlon's Editors Debate the Red River Rivalry
Week 5 Biggest Storylines and Upsets To Watch