We've finished the first full month of the college football season, and betting lines are beginning to reflect some adjustments as we head into Week 6. The results haven't always been there for us -- this column is 19-15 -- but I didn't have much difficulty finding plays and angles to attack. Most of the time, I had problems whittling down the plays I liked to only six to fit into the column.
That's not the case this week. While I like all six plays included below, they weren't nearly as easy to find. Sportsbooks are learning as much about these teams every week as we are. They aren't perfect -- they can be too slow to react or hesitant to react to smaller sample sizes -- but the lines are tightening up now that we're over a month into the season. That means we'll have to work a little harder than we have been to find winners. No worries, I don't mind getting my hands dirty. It only makes the victories sweeter.
Odds via SportsLine consensus
Games of the Week
No. 12 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Texas: I've included this game in The Six Pack every year because, no matter when it's being played, it's one of the biggest games of the week. I've learned some valuable lessons, too. The biggest is that no matter what the numbers say is most likely to happen, you can't take anything for granted in this game. I don't think there's a rivalry out there less predictable from a betting perspective. If one of these teams has been great in one area of the game all year, there's a good chance it'll be terrible at it in this game, and vice versa.
Both teams are off to a fantastic start, but when I look at my numbers, everything pushes me in Texas' direction -- even if it's not a decided advantage. But, again, expect the unexpected in this rivalry. The good news is there is one thing we can almost always count on when these teams meet: Points. Last year's 49-0 Texas win was the lowest-scoring affair between these teams since a 24-17 Texas win in 2014. The eight meetings since (including the 2018 Big 12 Championship Game) have averaged 76 points. Pick: Over 60 (-110)
No. 10 Notre Dame at No. 25 Louisville: If there's ever been a time for Louisville to prove me wrong, it's this week, and I'm very much open to being convinced. To this point, I am not. I know the Cardinals are 5-0, but I don't think this team is nearly as good as that record would suggest. This isn't to say they haven't played well or don't deserve to be ranked. It's more that they've faced two good defenses and struggled to move the ball in both games, even if they ultimately won. Notre Dame will be the best defense they've seen, and while the game is at home, I don't think that'll be enough.
The Fighting Irish were favorites of roughly the same size on the road last week against Duke and covered. Duke is a better team than Louisville, particularly on defense. While Ohio State and Duke were able to get stops against the Irish, I'm not as confident in the Cardinals defense. Louisville gets plenty of pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but it seldom gets home. This Notre Dame offensive line is far and away the best one the Cardinals have faced. I wouldn't be surprised if this looks like last week's game, with the Irish making more plays in the fourth quarter than Louisville does to close it out. Pick: Notre Dame -6 (-110)
Lock of the Week
Arkansas State at Troy: I mentioned up top that it's getting harder to find teams the market hasn't caught onto yet, but we might have one with Arkansas State. In Week 2, I took Memphis against the Red Wolves in this column and talked about Arkansas State as a team we might attack every week. Memphis covered for us, but things have changed since. Arkansas State might have found a gem in freshman quarterback Jaylen Raynor, who first saw action against Stony Brook and started the last two games. He's been outstanding with nearly 700 yards passing, 10 touchdowns and only one interception.
This will be his toughest test to date. While Troy isn't as good as the team we saw last year, it's still the best defense the Red Wolves and Raynor will have faced. I expect the Trojans to make life difficult, but this spread isn't giving Arkansas State nearly enough credit. I have Troy closer to a 10-point favorite than the 17 we're getting here. Pick: Arkansas State +17 (-110)
Under of the Week
No. 11 Alabama at Texas A&M: There's a lot of season left to be played, but this game could prove to be decisive in the SEC West. The Aggies are unranked, but the last time they were, they were torn apart by Miami 48-33. They've been much better since, particularly on the defensive side, which is why I'm leaning toward a lower-scoring affair in this one.
I don't know how well either of these teams will finish drives. Texas A&M ranks only 63rd nationally in red zone TD rate while Alabama ranks 105th. Conversely, A&M's defense ranks eighth in red zone TD rate against and Alabama is 27th. We have a battle of two offenses that can't finish drives going against two defenses that force you to settle for field goal attempts. Oh, and they're both deliberate on offense, with neither team ever in a hurry. Pick: Under 47 (-108)
Over of the Week
No. 23 LSU at No. 21 Missouri: I'm open to auto-firing on the over in every LSU game for the rest of the season. LSU is a perfect blend of explosive offense and Swiss cheese defense. That's why the over is not only 5-0 in LSU games this season, but the average LSU game has finished 16 points over the total. Missouri hasn't been a slouch in this department, either; the over is 4-1 in its games.
What I really love about this play is that quarterback Brady Cook and wide receiver Luther Burden lead Mizzou's offense. Burden leads the nation with 644 yards receiving, and he's facing an LSU defense that ranks 110th nationally against the pass at 260.2 yards per game. The Mizzou pass defense hasn't been outstanding, either, but it hasn't faced a passing offense in the same universe as this LSU unit. This game could look like last week's LSU game against Ole Miss. Pick: Over 64.5 (-110)
Gut Play of the Week
Purdue at Iowa: Hawkeyes starting quarterback Cade McNamara is out for the season. Iowa's offense had been terrible with McNamara, and it's hard to imagine things will improve now. Backup Deacon Hill is big and has a rocket arm, but he doesn't have much experience, nor does he move well in the pocket. Meanwhile, the Purdue defense he'll see Saturday had an abysmal start to the season but has come along come with each passing week.
While the secondary is prone to mistakes (that happens when you play as much man as Purdue does), I'm not convinced Iowa has the playmakers on the perimeter to take advantage of it. Meanwhile, Purdue's front seven has done a better job of generating pressure on opposing quarterbacks in recent weeks without bringing additional men. I don't think this is an excellent matchup for Hill in his first start. As for the Purdue offense, Hudson Card has been a little too turnover-prone, which is never good news against Iowa, but the Boilermakers have begun to find more success on the ground and should be able to take some of the load off Card's plate in a tough road start. My gut tells me Purdue wins this game, though my head has convinced it to take the points instead. Pick: Purdue +2.5 (-110)
Games of the Week
Lock of the Week
Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 6, and which underdogs will win outright? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned more than $2,000 in profit over the past seven-plus seasons -- and find out.