Upset Alert was back on its game again last week, landing upsets in four of its five games picked. That included a hit on the Wild Card game of Texas-TCU, where the Longhorns were ripe for upset despite heading into the game as 11.5-point favorites.
And it sets up a wild Week 6. With more college teams playing, we usually try to pick five games, one of which is a Wild Card, or a game with a bit higher point spread between the two games. This week, there will once again be five games picked, but two of the five will hit the Wild Card threshold—in both, odds makers gave the favorites an edge of double-digit points.
For those counting, we went 2-of-3 in our first week picking — we went with four games instead of five because there were fewer teams playing and one of the games was postponed — then hit an 0-fer in Week 4, with all five favorites avoiding upset (some narrowly). With Week 5’s 4-of-5, that brings the total up to a solid 6-of-13. Remember: the main point here is to pick teams games and teams where an upset has a legitimate chance of occurring.
On to Week 6.
*Betting lines are courtesy of BETMGM Sportsbook*
VIRGINIA TECH AT NORTH CAROLINA
Latest Line: North Carolina by 5
Why it’s upset-worthy: Because Virginia Tech’s offense is playing pretty well. The Hokies are averaging 41.5 points and 491 yards per game despite opening with two ACC opponents, and that includes 319 rushing yards per game at seven yards per carry. A big part of that has been explosive running back Khalil Herbert, who transferred from Kansas and is averaging 156 rushing yards per game and 12.0 yards per carry. North Carolina’s offense has been just a little bit off; if Virginia Tech continues to score and North Carolina doesn’t quite play to potential, there’s some upset factor here.
North Carolina coach Mack Brown certainly doesn’t seem to be taking Virginia Tech lightly.
“(Va. Tech) should be a top 10 team. They’re really good,” Brown said. “They’re 2-0 and they’ve had a lot of people out so they are really underrated. And that shows you the fallacy of early season ratings in my estimation. Our players won’t have to worry about a change in the game plan from Virginia Tech. They’re really good and they’ll line up and they’ll run the ball. They’re physical on offense. They’ve got three good quarterbacks that can run it and throw it. Khalil Herbert, their transfer from Kansas, He’s got 316 yards in two games. He’s averaging 12 yards per carry. I’ve never seen anything like that. It’s unbelievable. And this guy is a great player. He’s a lot of fun to watch. And then they’ve got the big, tall, fast wide receivers.
“Their defense is very similar to what it was. They’re gonna be very aggressive. They’re gonna disguise a lot. They’re gonna come after you. Three players that I remember standing out from last year is Rayshard Ashby, No. 23, he’s huge. He’s an outstanding player, middle linebacker. No. 5 Jarrod Hewitt, a big defensive lineman that knocked us around last year. And No. 8 Emmanuel Belmar, a defensive end. All three of those guys are NFL superstars in the future. And they’ve got a lot of other guys on defense that will be stars. But those are three guys that just, I remember standing on the sidelines watching them early in the game last year and being so impressed with their physical presence, much less the way they play with their aggressiveness.”
TEXAS VS. OKLAHOMA IN DALLAS
Latest Line: Oklahoma by 2
Why it’s upset-worthy: Because 1) this should probably be a pick ‘em and 2) historically, the team that has run the ball better has had a high level of success. Most indicators would seem to point to Texas having an advantage in that area. Texas looked better against TCU than it did against Texas Tech, but had a break or two go against the Longhorns — including a game-sealing fumble at the goal line on first-and goal — that cost Texas the game. There’s a chance that Spencer Rattler is brilliant, Oklahoma’s offensive line comes together as expected and the Sooners start to look more like what people thought before the season. But that’s far from a sure thing.
For what it’s worth, ESPN NFL Draft analyst Todd McShay believes that Oklahoma will eventually get there.
“The struggles they’re having this year, let me just put it very simply: They are so talented. They really are,” McShay said. “They’ve got so many great offensive skill players. They’re just so young, and that’s kind of the issue. They’re making young mistakes. Spencer Rattler is going to be a great quarterback. He made a lot of big plays in that game, and he has throughout the season.
“But Lincoln Riley said it. He’s like, ‘I looked up in the fourth quarter two games ago and I’ve got a redshirt freshman at quarterback; I’ve got a true freshman at wide receiver who’s my go-to guy; I’ve got a true freshman at running back.’ That jumped out, and then the other thing is they’re just not as strong and physical up front as they have been in recent years.
“And we all get caught up in Lincoln Riley’s offense and the quarterbacks and number one overall picks, but really their bread and butter has been running the football and wearing you out and then working everything off of that. And they’re just not able to do that at the same high level at this point, but they will develop because, again, they are so talented.”
MIAMI AT CLEMSON (-14)
Latest Line: Clemson by 14
Why it’s upset-worthy: Clemson’s dominance over the ACC has been well documented. But during that time period, the Tigers haven’t faced many teams playing as well as Miami currently is. The Hurricanes enter the contest with three double-digit wins, and were able to take a bye week after thrashing rival Florida State 52-10. The Hurricanes face an uphill battle to get to 4-0, but Miami has enough pieces to make this game more interesting than the two-touchdown line. Additionally, a dual-threat quarterback can be a great equalizer, and D’Eriq King’s ability to make plays with his legs as well as his arm could come in handy.
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has been a fan of King’s play so far this season.
“He’s a great quarterback,” Swinney said. “He can do it all. There’s really nothing he can’t do. He can make all the throws and when he runs it, he’s a running back. He’s got that mindset of a running back too. He’s averaging 5.4 yards after contact, so this a very physical player. He’s averaging 15 yards a scramble. Has made some huge plays in the passing game. … He can throw it on the run, push it down the field.
“He’s a dangerous player.”
King has had two games where he’s rushed for at least 65 yards and a touchdown, while he threw for 325 yards and three scores in the other.
TENNESSEE AT GEORGIA
Latest Line: Georgia by 12.5
Why it’s upset-worthy: Look, this game is a wild card for a reason: Georgia is a nearly two-touchdown favorite and based on what the Bulldogs have shown this year, it’s warranted. But Tennessee is riding some kind of momentum right now, winning its last eight games and nine of its last 10, with the lone loss during that stretch coming at Alabama a year ago. The Volunteers weren’t perfect in their opener against South Carolina, but looked much cleaner in a 35-12 victory over Missouri. Doing anything against Georgia’s defense is tough sledding, but if Ty Chandler and Eric Gray can give the Tennessee offense just enough cover and the Tennessee defense enough of a break, the Volunteers could cover and make this game interesting.