Top storylines for college football Week 6

By Jesse Reed
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After last weekend’s handful of monster games, the schedule in college football Week 6 seems to lack the same level of intrigue. However, there’s more going on than you might suppose.

From the Red River Showdown to a massive SEC clash in Gainesville to a huge road test for a burgeoning SEC powerhouse, there’s plenty to look forward to this weekend.

Here’s what we’re focusing on in college football Week 6.

Another glorified practice session for Alabama

Arkansas isn’t a scheduled cupcake like some of the teams Alabama faces every year. The Razorbacks are an SEC opponent, after all, albeit a pushover right now. So far this year, they have won just a single game, taking out Eastern Illinois in Week 1.

Since then, the Razorbacks have lost their last four games by an average score of 34-16.

They’ll give the Crimson Tide no more trouble than a mosquito trying to penetrate the iron scales of a dragon.

The only real concern here is that the Crimson Tide will likely get so far ahead early in the game that Tua Tagovailoa won’t be allowed to pad his stats, thus potentially harming his Heisman bid.

High-stakes Red River Showdown

One of the most entertaining games every year, the Red River Showdown has provided fans with high drama the past two seasons. Oklahoma has come out on top in these past two contests, but they’ve been nail-biters until the end.

We might see yet another close game on Saturday when the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners square up at the Cotton Bowl. The Longhorns feature a darn good defense that’s allowed under 20 points per game this year. On the other side, Kyler Murray leads one of the most explosive offenses in the nation.

It’s no surprise that the Sooners are favored to win by more than a touchdown. That being said, don’t be shocked if Texas’ defense makes a game out of this, allowing Sam Ehlinger an opportunity to take advantage of some short fields.

Another chance for Will Grier to solidify Heisman campaign

West Virginia’s Week 6 opponent is an interesting one. Kansas has won just two games, but it features an underrated pass defense that’s allowed just over 200 yards per game.

Will Grier leads one of the most electric passing offenses in the nation. He averages nearly 372 yards and over four touchdowns per game. If he’s able to keep that pace on Saturday against the Jayhawks, it will certainly bolster his already strong Heisman resume.

The one thing that is a bit troublesome, however, is that the Mountaineers have a tendency to take their foot off the gas pedal, which nearly hurt them last weekend against Texas Tech. It would be a heck of a lot of fun to see Grier get the green light to keep firing away all game long.

Can Maryland shock another ranked opponent?

Given the way Michigan has played so far this year, nobody should be surprised if Maryland gives the Wolverines a scare Saturday in Ann Arbor.

Jim Harbaugh’s team fell into a 17-0 hole last weekend on the road against Northwestern, which is hardly a powerhouse, and only barely won, 20-17. The Terps have already knocked off one ranked team this year, beating Texas for the second season in a row, and have put up at least 42 points in their last two wins.

Michigan could be without defensive standout Rashan Gary, who’s questionable after he suffered a shoulder injury that’s forced him to exit the past two games early. If the Terps can get the ground game going, then they can possibly stun the Wolverines in their own house.

NC State looks to stay perfect 

One of the most underrated programs in the nation, the NC State Wolfpack enters Week 6 without a blemish on their record. They enter Saturday’s game against Boston College ranked for the first time this year, and it’ll take nothing less than a stellar game to maintain that heading into Week 7.

It was only a couple weeks back that the Eagles were ranked, after all. Following their upset loss to Purdue, they bounced back with a big win last weekend against Temple and feature an offense that’s averaged more than 43 points per game in 2018.

Given the way the Wolfpack has performed on the defensive side of the ball, especially in the red zone and against the run, it seems likely that they’ll come out on top once again.

Trevor Lawrence expected to play after Week 5 scare

Clemson Nation is breathing a huge sigh of relief. After Trevor Lawrence’s scary injury in Week 5 which knocked him out of the game against Syracuse, he’s expected to start for the Tigers in Week 6 against Wake Forest.

This is huge, because while Chase Brice did make a couple of big throws late, he generally was not able to generate a passing game for the Tigers in Lawrence’s stead.

The Demon Deacons don’t feature a strong defense, which lends itself to a huge bounce-back game for Lawrence and his offense. It would be a shock of the Tigers didn’t cover the spread, which at this point is close to three touchdowns.

Slugfest extraordinaire taking place in Gainesville

As LSU attempts to keep pace with Alabama in the SEC West, the Tigers will face their third ranked opponent in the first six weeks of the 2018 season. So far, they’ve passed every challenge with aplomb, ripping Miami to shreds and then eking out a huge win over Auburn.

The next huge test for Ed Orgeron and Co. takes place in Gainesville this Saturday afternoon as they attempt to take out the Gators in The Swamp.

These two teams both feature lethal defenses that don’t yield points easily — Florida ranks eighth nationally with 14 points allowed per game, and LSU ranks 12th with 15 points allowed per game. Needless to say, this game will likely involve some heavy hitting, some key turnovers and figures to remain tight until the end.

Buckle up your chinstraps, folks.

Can FSU possibly challenge Miami?

Probably, the answer to this question is a big fat no.

Sure, the Seminoles have bounced back somewhat after getting throttled in Week 1, winning three games. However, the flip side of that is the only two really competitive teams they’ve faced have beat them by a combined score of 54-10.

Miami, meanwhile, has been downright dominant ever since being taken out by LSU in Week 1. And given what the Tigers have done since then, that loss isn’t exactly a dark cloud hanging over the Canes.

In truth, the turnover chain figures to get a heavy workload Saturday when the Hurricanes host their in-state rival. It’s very likely that Deondre Francois and Co. limp home after experiencing another bad loss.

Ohio State can get back to pounding opponents again

One week after surviving the biggest road test they’ll face all year, the Ohio State Buckeyes head back home for a date with Indiana.

Talk about going from one extreme to the other. No offense to the Hoosiers, but this isn’t even fair. The Buckeyes will clamp down on Indiana’s rushing attack in the same way they shut down Miles Sanders last Saturday, and Peyton Ramsey will find himself under pressure all game long.

We all know how potent the Buckeyes offense is with Dwayne Haskins pulling the strings. He’s magnificent and showed it with his second-half comeback last weekend against a darn good Penn State defense.

All that to say that it would be stunning if Ohio State doesn’t win by three-plus touchdowns at home Saturday.

Colorado on upset alert at home against ASU?

The Sun Devils have a real shot to improve to 4-2 this Saturday on the road against an overrated Colorado squad that hasn’t beaten anyone of consequence.

The Buffaloes (No. 21 in the nation) are coming off a 38-16 win over UCLA, but just a couple weekends back they barely beat Nebraska. Needless to say, it’s hardly surprising that they are less than a field-goal favorite at home to beat the Sun Devils.

One reason to tune into this game if you have the Pac-12 Network is that N’Keal Harry and Laviska Shenault Jr. (check out this play) are two of the most exciting receivers in college football today.

Kentucky with another chance to prove it is elite

The Wildcats (No. 13 in the nation) have provided us with one of the biggest surprises of the season so far. They enter Week 6 with a perfect 5-0 record, having beaten two ranked SEC teams along the way.

Next up is a massive road test against Texas A&M, which is favored to win by nearly a touchdown.

The game itself should be a ton of fun to watch. Kellen Mond is a gamer, and he’s one of the most exciting young dual-threat quarterbacks in the nation. On the other side, Kentucky’s Benny Snell Jr. is one of the best running backs in college football, and the Wildcats play a fierce brand of defense that complements him to perfection.

A road win against the Aggies at Kyle Field would further quicken Kentucky’s rise up the national ranks.

Georgia must avoid falling into a trap

Nobody expects Georgia to lose to Vanderbilt at home on Saturday. The Bulldogs haven’t really been challenged once yet this season, beating all five of their 2018 opponents by at least two touchdowns.

On paper, Vanderbilt is doomed. But in college football there is no upset that is not possible — just ask Old Dominion. On top of that, there’s always a slight chance that the Bulldogs could get caught looking ahead to next weekend’s high-stakes battle with LSU.

Kirby Smart just needs to keep his team from falling into a classic trap game here. If he does that, then they Bulldogs will be just fine.

Need to see more from Auburn’s offense

If Auburn is going to avoid losing its second game of the season, then the offense needs to step up in a big way.

Jarrett Stidham opened the season with a rock-solid game against a vaunted Washington defense. But in the past three games he’s been awfully shaky, throwing three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Last weekend, Auburn managed just 341 yards and 24 points…against Southern Mississippi.

Now Stidham and the Tigers will be going up against the No. 8 scoring defense in the nation. Time to fix things, and fix them fast, or Mississippi State’s defense will feast.

UCLA appears doomed to lose big again

The Bruins have floundered badly in Chip Kelly’s first year, losing their first four games by an average score of 17-38. That massive spread doesn’t figure to improve this Saturday when they host No. 10 Washington, either.

No team in the nation allows fewer points than the Huskies do. This Washington defense also allows just 281 yards per game, which ranks 10th nationally.

Meanwhile, the Bruins can’t stop the run. Myles Gaskin should have a field day as the Huskies romp to another big win.

Nebraska, too

It’s pretty crazy how bad Nebraska has been in Scott Frost’s first year. The only team the Cornhuskers have been remotely close to beating was Troy, which pulled off a big upset in Week 3.

Now they head into Madison for a date with powerhouse Wisconsin, which features one of the most potent rushing attacks in college football. One would expect Jonathan Taylor and Wisconsin’s NFL-caliber offensive line to run roughshod over Nebraska en route to a blowout victory.

Last huge test for Notre Dame for a while

After lambasting Stanford on national television last Saturday night, the Fighting Irish appear poised to make a run at the College Football Playoff.

Saturday night, they’ll head to Blacksburg for a date with Virginia Tech, which bounced back beautifully last weekend after a Week 4 disaster. The real interesting thing about this game is the strength-versus-strength battle between the Hokies’ run defense (No. 4 nationally) against Notre Dame’s rushing attack.

If the Hokies can stuff the Irish on the ground and force them into a one-dimensional offense, it could lead to Ian Book (now the official starter) finally succumbing to some mistakes through the air.

Can Stanford stop the bleeding?

Here’s a stunning factoid for you: Stanford ranks 124th nationally with just 94.4 rushing yards per game.

Yes. Stanford.

Bryce Love is a phenomenal player, and one must respect his decision to stay in school, rather than come out last year for the NFL draft. He’s aiming to become a pediatrician, after all. That said, it’s undeniable that this season has been very harmful to his NFL draft stock, and now he’s dealing with another ankle injury.

This is important to note because Utah is the next Cardinal opponent, and the Utes are phenomenal at shutting down the run. This means it’s going to be up to K.J. Costello, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Co. to keep this offense going and avoid falling into a two-game losing streak.