The best upset picks for Week 6 of the college football season
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Week 5 of the 2021 college football season has come and gone, and yet again, it seems that having a number in front of your name is as much a liability as a privilege.
This past weekend, nine of the top 25 teams suffered defeat. Some of those were as underdogs against fellow ranked teams, but it is still a remarkable number. The biggest upsets were Oregon losing to Stanford, and Florida losing to Kentucky. Arkansas, Ole Miss, Notre Dame, and UCLA were other notable ranked teams to lose.
After going 2-3 straight up in picking underdog winners last week, here are five more teams that should be live underdogs in Week 6.
Oklahoma vs. Texas
Sat, October 9 2021, 4:00 PM
The Red River Rivalry is known for offering plenty of excitement and drama. Oklahoma typically comes in with more talent, but Texas brings their best due to the long history between these two programs.
Oklahoma is 5-0 straight-up this year, but just 1-4 against the spread. The Sooners have squeaked by in nearly every contest, with their defense looking vulnerable and their offense not yet looking as electric as it did under elite quarterbacks Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray, and Jalen Hurts.
Texas is 4-1 straight-up, but also 4-1 against the spread, with new head coach Steve Sarkisian having plenty of big game experience and one of the best running backs in the country in Bijan Robinson. Texas is 4-0 against the spread in its last four against Oklahoma, and 7-2 in the last nine. Expect another back-and-forth, high scoring affair that may come down to the final seconds.
Boise State vs. BYU
Sat, October 9 2021, 7:30 PM
BYU is a very good football team. The Cougars have taken on opponents from the Big 12 and Pac-12 and have convincingly defeated them. Their defense has stepped up when needed, and their offense has shown plenty of creativity and playmaking.
In recent matchups between these teams, BYU has also dominated, covering five of the last six matchups.
So why take Boise State to pull the upset in this spot? Almost singularly because BYU’s quarterback situation is questionable, at best. Jaren Hall was the season starter, but he is banged up and is unlikely to return for Saturday. Even if he does, he will likely not be 100%.
His backup, who looked great in relief, is Baylor Romney, but Romney suffered an injury in Week 5, and is likely out. That leaves the Cougars dependent on freshman third-string quarterback Jacob Conover, who did fine in mop up duty, but is obviously not as talented a signal caller at this point in his collegiate career. Boise State is 7-1 ATS in its last eight games as a road underdog, and this is a good spot to catch BYU coming off a hard slate of games and playing without their best quarterbacks available.
Wisconsin vs. Illinois
Sat, October 9 2021, 7:30 PM
Wisconsin's defense should get them the win in this game, but for a team that was favored to win the Big Ten West and compete for the conference title, their offense has been abysmal.
Graham Mertz has not stepped up to play any better than he did his freshman campaign, and is arguably even worse. The defense has kept the Badgers in games until the second half when the dam finally broke against Notre Dame and Michigan.
The Badgers are 106th in the country in yards per play, and 110th in points per play. Illinois is not much better, but they are slightly. And when a presumably defensive matchup occurs, sometimes points are best obtained through more flukey, big-play opportunities.
Illinois is just as capable of connecting with a game changing downfield throw as Wisconsin, and really nothing about this Wisconsin team has shown us they are worthy of being favored by more than a score.
Penn State vs. Iowa
Sat, October 9 2021, 8:00 PM
Iowa is favored by 2.5 points to account for home field advantage, but Penn State has a more talented roster, and a more dynamic quarterback.
Iowa has done well in 2021 because of a great defense, good special teams, and reliable offense, but the statistics don’t show them to be an elite team. Penn State isn’t elite either, but they have a higher ceiling.
Coming off a national broadcast game in which they blew out Maryland, the stock on Iowa is a bit inflated right now and it’s time to sell. Take the Nittany Lions to pull off the upset and disappoint the home crowd.
UTSA vs. Western Kentucky
Sat, October 9 2021, 11:00 PM
According to Bill Connolly's well-respected SP+ rankings, UTSA and Western Kentucky are essentially equals. UTSA is 5-0 straight up after starting with a weaker schedule, while Western Kentucky is 1-3 by choosing to face higher-regarded teams.
The game looks like a toss-up, but when getting plus odds in a toss-up situation that equates to value. It seems to be of even more value when one team is accustomed to winning, while the other is accustomed to losing. When things are tight in the fourth quarter, I’d rather rely on the team that knows what it takes to leave the field victorious.