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MC&J: The Red River Rivalry dominates the Week 6 college football slate

The two future SEC teams square off as Big 12 foes for the last time.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 30 Kansas at Texas Photo by David Buono/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last week ATS: 7-8 (2-7 National, 5-1 B1G)

Season ATS: 47-49 (19-28 National, 28-21 B1G)

The Big Ten schedule may have been ugly last week, but at least I was able to pick the majority of the games right. The 5-1 record in Big Ten games saved my bacon since my national picks were ugly. There is still a lot of games left to pick this year, so being two games under .500 right now isn’t the worst spot to be in.

National games

No. 12 Oklahoma v. No. 3 Texas (-6.5) - 12:00 p.m. ET - ABC

This will always be the Red River Shootout to me. This is the final year these two teams will meet as Big 12 teams, as next year they’ll embark on their first season in the SEC. After a mediocre season in Brent Venables first year as head coach, the Sooners have started off this season hot. Not only can Dillon Gabriel spin it at quarterback, Oklahoma has a defense that has allowed just 54 points through their first five games.

As good as the Sooners have been this year, Texas has been even better. I thought last week the Longhorns might be looking ahead last week to Red River, but Steve Sarkisian’s team handled their business against Kansas in Austin. Running back Jonathon Brooks was a beast against the Jayhawks, rushing for 218 yards and two scores in the 39-14 win.

Even though Oklahoma has improved from what we saw from the team last year, some of how good the Sooners have looked can be attributed to a really weak schedule. If Texas can get through this game, it feels like the Longhorns can pretty much coast to a spot in the College Football Playoff. While the Sooners will give Texas a game, the Longhorns create a little separation in the second half and go on to win by double digits.

Texas 34, Oklahoma 24

No. 23 LSU (-6.5) v. No. 21 Missouri - 12:00 p.m. ET - ESPN

Imagine how scary LSU would be if they had a defense. The Tigers have already given up 30 or more points in three of their five games this season, and are coming off a dreadful performance where they allowed 55 points last week in the loss to Ole Miss. You’d have to think that Jayden Daniels would be in the Heisman conversation if LSU hadn’t already lost two games this year, as the quarterback has already thrown for 1,710 yards and 16 touchdowns while adding another three scores on the ground.

I’m not sure which coach is more detestable in this game. On one side you have Brian Kelly, who loves to blame everyone but himself when his team fails. Going up against Kelly is Eli Drinkwitz, who whines so much it makes you want to stuff him in a locker. Aside from Drinkwitz, Missouri is a fun team, led by quarterback Brady Cook and wide receiver Luther Burden III.

LSU just hasn’t impressed me much this year. Cook, Burden, and the rest of the Missouri offense should do a lot of damage against a terrible defense. I know Daniels will put up some numbers, I just think Missouri gets enough stops to not only keep this game close, they could even pull the “upset” here.

Missouri 38, LSU 35

No. 13 Washington State v. UCLA (-3.5) - 3:00 p.m. ET - Pac-12 Network

The Cougars and Bruins each enter this game coming off a bye after two very different results in their last games. Washington State jumped out on Oregon State in Pullman two weeks ago, withstanding a late comeback by the Beavers to stay undefeated this season. Cam Ward continues to dazzle, throwing four touchdowns for the second consecutive game, running his total to 13 passing touchdowns this year. So far in 2023, Ward has attempted 142 passes and has yet to throw an interception.

Last time out UCLA lost to Utah 14-7 in Salt Lake City. Freshman quarterback Dante Moore wasn’t terrible against the tough defense of the Utes, but he also wasn’t all that good either, hitting on just 15 of his 35 pass attempts in the game. I’m still not sold on the Bruins, since aside from Utah they haven’t really played anyone of note. Even though the battle between Ward and Moore will be fun to watch, the wrong team is favored here.

Washington State 31, UCLA 27

No. 11 Alabama (-2.5) v. Texas A&M - 3:30 p.m. ET - CBS

Texas A&M took a big hit when they lost starting quarterback Connor Weigman to injury during the Auburn game, but at least the Aggies had an experienced backup ready to go. Former LSU quarterback Max Johnson threw 27 touchdowns for the Tigers before transferring to Texas A&M last season, and has thrown four touchdowns over the last two games. Johnson actually played in 2020 and 2021 against the Crimson Tide while he was with the Tigers.

Honestly, I’m still not exactly sure what Alabama is this year, or is trying to be. Nick Saban’s team has a stout defense, and then I guess it’s just Jalen Milroe trying to ad-lib on offense? It’s just weird to see an Alabama team that struggles so much to move the football. Things aren’t going to get any easier against a Texas A&M defense that has come together after Miami put up 48 points on them last month. In a game where scoring is going to be tough for both sides, I’ll take the unranked home underdog to hand the Crimson Tide their second loss of the season.

Texas A&M 23, Alabama 20

Syracuse v. No. 14 North Carolina (-8.5) - 3:30 p.m. ET - ESPN

Last week Syracuse was dominated at home by Clemson. The Orange couldn’t stop shooting themselves in the foot, turning the football over three times. I don’t see them being as careless with the football again against a North Carolina defense that isn’t quite at the same level as the Clemson defense. Plus, Drake Maye hasn’t been that sharp this year, and it feels like North Carolina is the college football version of the Los Angeles Chargers, since they love to make things a lot tougher than they need to be.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Syracuse pull the upset here, as I think the Tar Heels are overrated.

Syracuse 38, North Carolina 31

No. 20 Kentucky v. No. 1 Georgia (-14.5) - 7:00 p.m. ET - ESPN

Georgia would be in a lot of trouble if it wasn’t for Brock Bowers. If we’re being honest, the Bulldogs shouldn’t be ranked in the top-five right now, since what have they actually done this season? Luckily for Georgia they don’t have much on the schedule that can actually challenge them, so as long as they don’t drop a game, they should be able to cruise into the CFP as two-time defending champions.

When you play Kentucky, you better bring your lunch. Just ask Florida, who just got rolled by the Wildcats in Lexington. Even though I imagine the Bulldogs are going to fare better than the Gators did, Mark Stoops’ team is a handful. Running back Ray Davis is coming off a 280-yard performance last week, while the Wildcats have an experienced quarterback in NC State transfer Devin Leary. 14.5 feels like a lot to be laying with a Georgia team that hasn’t put together a full game in the two games they have played in conference so far.

Georgia 24, Kentucky 17

No. 10 Notre Dame (-6.5) v. No. 25 Louisville - 7:30 p.m. ET - ABC

I would like to thank those in charge of the rankings for slipping Louisville into the top-25 so that might improve Notre Dame’s strength of schedule, in turn making Ohio State’s win over the Fighting Irish look better. Also, kudos to Marcus Freeman for making sure Notre Dame had 11 players on the field during important points in last week’s nail-biting win over Duke.

Playing at Louisville at night isn’t going to be easy. Then again, it’s not the toughest environment Sam Hartman and Notre Dame have seen. After losing to the Buckeyes last month, Freeman knows his team will have to beat USC if they want to have any shot at the playoff. Last week the Fighting Irish were taken to the limit by Duke. I think they have an easier time this week against a Louisville squad that is undefeated, but has been inconsistent at times in Jeff Brohm’s first season as head coach.

Notre Dame 31, Louisville 20

Arkansas v. No. 16 Ole Miss (-11.5) - 7:30 p.m. ET - SEC Network

You have to feel for KJ Jefferson. He has been playing quarterback at Arkansas since 2004 and the Razorbacks just can’t get over the hump. Sam Pittman’s team looks lost, as they have dropped their last three games by a combined 22 points. As fun as Arkansas was to watch over the last few years with Jefferson running the show, the Razorbacks have struggled to get much going on offense, averaging just 342 yards per game so far this year.

If Ole Miss could ever get their defense to match up with their offense under Lane Kiffin, the rest of the SEC would definitely be on notice. Last week the Rebels were able to grab the victory in the track meet with LSU, rolling up 706 yards of offense in the 55-49 win. The scary thing is Ole Miss is only going to get better as the season goes on, as Quinshon Judkins is hitting his stride after notching his first 100-yard rushing game of the season. These two teams are heading in opposite directions, so I’ll side with the home team that has pop on offense.

Ole Miss 41, Arkansas 23

No. 15 Oregon State (-9.5) v. Cal - 10:00 p.m. ET - Pac-12 Network

Not that I didn’t think Oregon State wasn’t a tough team, I just thought heading into last week’s game that Utah was tougher. I certainly was wrong there. The Beavers just bullied the Utes in Corvallis. I’m still not big on D.J. Uiagalelei, but he is the perfect quarterback if you have designs on going like 9-3 or 10-2 in the regular season. That feels right about where Oregon State will be since they can use their strong running game to take some of the pressure off the former Clemson quarterback.

Shut down running back Jaydn Ott and it shouldn’t be all that tough to beat Cal. Whether Sam Jackson V or Ben Finley starts at quarterback for the Golden Bears on Saturday, I don’t think it’s going to matter. Oregon State is nasty on defense and should make it a long night for whoever is taking the snaps. The Beavers should win this one by at least two touchdowns.

Oregon State 30, Cal 14