College football upset alert: Expert picks for Week 6 underdogs with best odds to win



Someone turned the faucet of upsets in the college football world way down in Week 5. It didn’t slow to a trickle by any means, as Oregon and Florida went down, among others. But the pace was way off from earlier in the season. We’ll see whether it was a one-week blip or the linesmakers figuring out this shifting 2021 landscape.

Your Sporting News prognosticators felt the effects last week, combining to go 2-for-12 in calling upsets, which is actually closer to what it should be rather than the fast first month we put together.

Reminder on the contest’s rules: Each expert picks three underdogs to win straight up. If it hits, the expert receives the amount of points that team was an underdog.

MORE: Picks against the spread for Week 6 games | Bowl projections

We have a three-way tie for first in first after five weeks:

1 Zac Al-Khateeb 8-7 39
2 Bill Bender 7-8 39
3 Bill Trocchi 6-9 39
4 Mike DeCourcy 6-9 27

On to the upsets.

Odds courtesy

Bill Bender, college football lead writer

No. 4 Penn State (+2.5) at No. 3 Iowa

This isn’t really an upset when you’re dealing with two top-five teams, but the Nittany Lions are a short underdog like they were at Wisconsin earlier this season. It’s going to be a slugfest, but Penn State’s defense might not be getting enough attention here. The Nittany Lions have won their past three trips to Iowa City.

MORE: Betting trends to know for Penn State-Iowa

Buffalo (+5.5) at Kent State

The Flashes will look for payback after losing 70-41 to the Bulls last season, but that’s part of the reason we believe in Buffalo here. The Bulls have one-score losses against Coastal Carolina and Western Michigan, and the running game can frustrate opponents.

Wyoming (+5.5) at Air Force

The Cowboys are among the surprise unbeaten teams in the G5, and now they face a challenge in stopping the Falcons on the road. Wyoming is 4-2 against Air Force under Craig Bohl. It’s a defensive struggle, but Xazavian Valladay comes up with the game-winning TD in the fourth quarter.

Mike DeCourcy, senior writer

LSU (+3.5) at Kentucky

Is this where I remind everyone that half the field in this contest failed to pick a single winner last week — and I was not in that group? Damn right it is. When you’re in last place, you have to celebrate the small victories. And don’t think it’s like doing a touchdown dance when you’re down 40 points; I’m not that far behind. And after the Tigers go into Lexington and do their best to stop the #OrgeronOut discussions, maybe I’ll no longer be in the cellar.

MORE: Could Urban Meyer be on the LSU sideline next year?

Memphis (+3.5) at Tulsa

No, Emoni Bates isn’t available to help the Tigers recover from the disappointment of their trip to Temple, but this still is the Memphis team that took down Mississippi State not long ago. They maybe have celebrated that occasion for a bit too long, and the defense has to get at least semi-serious about stopping somebody. But QB Seth Henigan has 12 touchdown passes and only one interception. He may need a dozen in this game to keep pace with Tulsa, but Memphis seems like it has a chance.

Rutgers (+5.5) vs. Michigan State

Just when the Scarlet Knights were starting to believe in their 2021 season, along came the Buckeyes to wreck those dreams. Hey, they’re not the first team that’s happened to, just the first this season. It’s certainly asking a lot of the Knights to go from Michigan to Ohio State to Michigan State in three consecutive weeks, but at least they get the comfort of home. Rutgers is good enough to win this game.

Bill Trocchi, senior editor

Getty Images

No. 21 Texas (+3.5) vs. No. 6 Oklahoma

Texas has covered in seven of the past nine matchups, and one of the ones they didn’t cover was last year’s four-overtime loss. Point? The Longhorns tend to overperform in this game, and if they do that this week against an OU team that is surprisingly still trying to find itself a month into the season, it will mean a victory for Bevo.

MORE: Bijan Robinson could have his Heisman moment vs. OU

Boise State (+5.5) at No. 10 BYU

This pick is being made on the theory that BYU isn’t going undefeated, and this is as good a place as any for the Cougars to stumble. Boise has three losses, but one was to undefeated Oklahoma State by one point. The Broncos are still formidable, and while BYU has impressed, I just can’t see them continuing to stack W’s against this challenging schedule.

UTSA (+3.5) at Western Kentucky

The Roadrunners (5-0) are the better team. UTSA boasts one of the nation’s top running backs in Sincere McCormick, and tons of experience. After a 21-point comeback at Memphis, UTSA survived a letdown game against UNLV. It should be all systems go this week at Western Kentucky, which is 0-3 vs. FBS opponents this season.

Zac Al-Khateeb, content producer

No. 21 Texas (+3.5) over No. 6 Oklahoma

The Longhorns and Sooners face off in what could be the last Big 12-themed Red River Showdown. This game’s getting the “College GameDay” treatment, and Oklahoma has gone 3-2 in those matchups as the higher-ranked team. But the Sooners have looked perpetually out of order this season, stumbling to four wins of only a possession. Texas isn’t there yet with Steve Sarkisian, but running back Bijan Robinson — 652 yards, 6.2 yards per carry, seven touchdowns — could be the best player on the field come Saturday. He should lead Texas to a big win over the Sooners.

MORE: Betting trends to know for Oklahoma-Texas

No. 18 Auburn (+15.5) over No. 2 Georgia

Do I think Auburn’s going to beat No. 2 Georgia? No. But I’m not particularly enthused by many games this week, so I figured I’d go big. This game takes place in Jordan-Hare Stadium, one of college football’s notoriously difficult venues (just ask Alabama). Tigers quarterback Bo Nix will need the game of his life — not unlike the one he had in a comeback win vs. LSU — but has the maddening, playmaking ability that can give defenses fits. Auburn is 8-6 in top-25 meetings with Georgia when it’s the lower-ranked team, including a 3-3 record when it’s the home team.

LSU (+3.5) over No. 16 Kentucky

Another game I’m not super keen on, but I’ll admit it’s weird seeing LSU take on the underdog role. Kentucky deserves to be favored after starting 5-0, including a shocking upset of No. 10 Florida in Lexington. But the Wildcats haven’t blown opponents out of the water, scratching out single-possession victories in their past four games, including Missouri, Chattanooga and South Carolina. LSU took a devastating loss to Auburn, but let them back into the game after taking 13-0 and 19-10 leads. The Tigers won’t be caught off guard by the Wildcats like the Gators were.


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