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MC&J: Week 6’s national schedule has three ranked battles

Saturday’s slate has a number of interesting matchups outside the Big Ten.

NCAA Football: Iowa State at Kansas William Purnell-USA TODAY Sports

Last week ATS: 8-6 (4-3 B1G, 4-3 National)

Season ATS: 40-46-3 (21-25-1 B1G, 19-20-2 National)

This week’s Big Ten slate can be found here.

National games:

(All lines courtesy of Draftkings Sportsbook.)

No. 8 Tennessee (-3) v. No. 25 LSU - 12:00 p.m. - ESPN

It feels like there is no way this game doesn’t end in shenanigans since Tennessee always loves to Tennessee things and LSU is annually in the running for the weirdest team in college football. Tennessee enters this game with one of the top offenses in the country. If Hendon Hooker keeps playing the way he has in the first five games of the season, he’ll be a Heisman finalist in December.

After a loss to Florida State, which doesn’t look as bad now as when it initially happened, LSU has reeled off four straight wins, including victories over Mississippi State and Auburn. Jayden Daniels is settling in at quarterback for the Tigers, while the defense is its usually stingy self.

At first I was thinking that Tennessee might have too much offense for LSU here, but I was thinking the same thing when the Tigers played Mississippi State last month with a similar line. I’ve learned my lesson. It’s tough to go down to Baton Rouge and leave with a victory. Tennessee is on their way back, they just aren’t quite ready to win a game like this.

LSU 34, Tennessee 31

No. 17 TCU (-6.5) v. No. 19 Kansas - 12:00 p.m. - FS1

The turnaround by Kansas from one of the worst teams in the country to a ranked team is incredible. It the athletic department of the Jayhawks was smart, they’d give Lance Leipold a blank check, especially with Nebraska and Wisconsin expected to be sniffing around Leipold for their coaching vacancies.

TCU blitzed Oklahoma, which now leaves us to wonder if the Horned Frogs are real or if the Sooners are massively overrated. One thing that has been impressive about TCU is their offense, which is averaging 550 yards per game this year. Max Duggan gives the Horned Frogs the veteran leadership that makes this offense tick, tossing 11 touchdowns this year.

The start to the season by Kansas has been a great story. Unfortunately this is where the fairy tale ends. TCU is just too good in this matchup. Maybe Kansas hangs around for a bit on the adrenaline they’ll get from the fans. In the end the Horned Frogs win this by at least a touchdown.

TCU 42, Kansas 30

Texas (-9) v. Oklahoma - 12:00 p.m. - ABC

It’s odd to see Texas come into the Red River Shootout (yes, I still call it that) as the favorite. The Sooners have dominated the rivalry of late, winning six of the last seven meetings. Things are a little different this year, though. Brent Venables has hit a rough patch after opening the season 3-0. Last week saw Oklahoma rolled by TCU 55-24, losing Dillon Gabriel in the game to a concussion. It is unknown if Gabriel will play Saturday, but it doesn’t sound promising.

While Oklahoma has injury issues at quarterback, Texas is seeing theirs clear up some. Quinn Ewers is expected to return on Saturday after he was injured against Alabama. Ewers was impressive prior to the injury, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can continue that upward trajectory. It doesn’t hurt that Ewers has running back Bijan Robinson and wide receiver Xavier Worthy to work with.

Trusting Texas to win against the Sooners is dangerous, and it feels like asking them to win by at least 10 is insane. Let’s get wild this week. Oklahoma is in a bad place right now. Their offense is hard to have any confidence in without Gabriel, while the defense is a train wreck. Texas takes out some of their frustrations from recent losses in the series on the Sooners.

Texas 38, Oklahoma 24

Arkansas v. No. 23 Mississippi State (-9) - 12:00 p.m. - SEC Network

This is a real bad spot for Arkansas. The Razorbacks have lost to Texas A&M and Alabama, and next week they head out to Provo to take on BYU. Add to the brutal schedule, KJ Jefferson is banged up. I just wonder how much the losses to the Aggies and Crimson Tide took out of Sam Pittman’s team.

Aside from a loss to LSU last month, Mississippi State has been rolling. Will Rogers already has 19 touchdown passes, while the defense of the Bulldogs isn’t giving up much. Arkansas will test Mississippi State with their balanced offense, I’m just not sure how much gas is left in the tank for Arkansas. The Razorbacks are getting gashed by opposing offenses. Rogers is too good to not exploit the weak Arkansas defense.

Mississippi State 41, Arkansas 27

Texas Tech v. No. 7 Oklahoma State (-9) - 3:30 p.m. - FS1

If there is one issue that Texas Tech has had this year, it has been turnovers. Quarterback Donovan Smith has been intercepted seven times this year already. Luckily for the Red Raiders, Oklahoma State hasn’t been quite as feared on defense this year without defensive coordinator Jim Knowles and safety Tanner McCalister.

I’ve done well siding with Oklahoma State so far this year, picking them to cover against Arizona State and Baylor. I’m not going to press my luck, since I see this being a tough game against the Red Raiders. The Cowboys might be a tad overrated, which probably feels crazy to say after they beat a ranked team last week. Even if Texas Tech doesn’t win, they keep it close.

Oklahoma State 38, Texas Tech 35

No. 11 Utah (-3.5) v. No. 18 UCLA - 3:30 p.m. - FOX

Utah always seems to lose in early September and then later in the year you are asking yourself “how did this team lose then?”. That is again the case this year. The Utes lost in Gainesville to Florida, and since then they had only allowed 43 points over the last four games. Cam Rising has 13 touchdown passes this year, while on the ground the Utes are averaging 203 yards per game.

UCLA is a nice story this year, playing competitive football a few years before they are slated to move to the Big Ten. Beating an undefeated Washington team with a new coach and quarterback is one thing. Beating the defending Pac-12 champs that are returning a lot of contributors from last year’s team is a whole different story. If this spread was a little bigger I might like the Bruins, I just don’t think they are ready to beat this Utah team.

Utah 35, UCLA 20

Washington State v. No. 6 USC (-13) - 7:30 p.m. - FOX

Is USC a College Football Playoff contender? There’s no question about that. It doesn’t mean the Trojans don’t have areas that can be taken advantage of. I’m not convinced the USC defense is quite as good as the stats might show. It has helped that the offense of the Trojans has built some big leads, which has taken opponents out of their game plan early.

Washington State already has experience going on the road and earning a tough win, since the went into Madison and beat Wisconsin earlier this year. Quarterback Cam Ward has held his own after transferring in from Incarnate Word, although he hasn’t been perfect, tossing seven interceptions so far. The Cougars aren’t giving up much on defense so far, but they’ll be tested on Saturday night against Caleb Williams and Jordan Addison.

I’m not going to be so bold as to call a Washington State upset. I do think the Cougars can stay in the area, though. Washington State will provide a little more resistance on defense than USC is used to almost two touchdowns is a lot in a game between two good teams.

USC 37, Washington State 27

Florida State v. No. 14 NC State (-3) - 8:00 p.m. - ACC Network

Florida State was back for a few weeks. Now it’s time for the Seminoles to come back to reality a bit. That process started last week with a loss to Wake Forest, and it’s going to be more of the same this week in Raleigh. Jordan Travis has been pretty good this year, the problem is he is going against a really tough NC State team.

The Wolfpack have to be angry after missing their shot to knock off Clemson. The season isn’t over Dave Doeren’s team, as they can still find their way possible to the ACC Championship Game and a New Year’s Six bowl depending on how the rest of the regular season plays out. I like Devin Leary and the Wolfpack to get back to their winning ways this week.

NC State 28, Florida State 17

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.