Breaking down Week 6 of the 2021 college football schedule

By Amy Daughters -

If you enjoyed watching four Top Ten teams freefall in the rankings last week, you’re going to love the Week 6 college football schedule.

Of the 17 undefeated teams remaining in the FBS, six hold the No. 1 through No. 6 spots in the current AP. Of these, four are playing a ranked opponent this Saturday. Of the two with “easier” matchups, one – (1) Alabama – gets a worthy league foe (Texas A&M, which just dropped from the rankings) on the road.

Overall, it’s a season-low 51 total games with a season-high 28 clubs taking the week off.

THIS is why you bought the kegerator.

WHAT TO WATCH

Thursday, Oct. 7

7:30pm ET – ESPNU (15) Coastal Carolina at Arkansas State

Arkansas State’s prolific passing attack is ranked No. 5 in the FBS, making for a real heavyweight battle against a Coastal Carolina D ranked No. 3 in the nation vs. the pass. But wait! There’s more. The Chanticleers’ high-powered ground game (ranked No. 6 in the FBS) vs. a Red Wolves’ defense ranked a dismal No. 129 vs. the run – only one team in the nation has allowed more rushing yards.

7:30pm ET – ESPN – Houston at Tulane

Friday, Oct. 8

7pm ET – ESPNTemple at (5) Cincinnati

10:30pm ET – ESPNStanford at (22) Arizona State

Saturday, Oct. 9

Noon ET – ABC – (6) Oklahoma vs. (21) Texas (at Dallas, Texas)

After rushing for 170 yards in the opening win over Louisiana and dropping to a season-low 138 ground yards in the loss at (13) Arkansas, Texas has averaged 345 rushing yards in its last three outings and is currently ranked No. 5 nationally in rushing offense. It sets up for a Battle Royale against Oklahoma, currently No. 7 in the FBS vs. the run, giving up, on average, 83.4 ground yards per game. The Sooners’ D is far and away the best the Longhorns have faced thus far. Check out Texas sophomore RB Bijan Robinson (#5), currently the No. 2 back in college football.

Noon ET – FOXMaryland at (7) Ohio State

Noon ET – ESPN (13) Arkansas at (17) Ole Miss

(1) Alabama (ranked No. 24 in the FBS in pass D) held Ole Miss to a season-low 213 air yards last Saturday. This week, the Rebels host Arkansas, which despite getting blanked by (2) Georgia last week, is the owner and operator of the No. 2 pass defense in all of America. Where Ole Miss is averaging 308 air yards per game, the Hogs are allowing a paltry 130.

Noon ET – Big Ten Network – (11) Michigan State at Rutgers

Noon ET – FS1 – West Virginia at Baylor

3pm ET – ACC Network – Virginia at Louisville

3:30pm ET – CBS – (2) Georgia at (18) Auburn

3:30pm ET – ABCBoise State at (10) BYU

Though the sexier option is on CBS, don’t sleep on this one which comes complete with two potential mismatches: (1). Boise State’s No. 18 ranked passing attack taking on a BYU defense that’s No. 98 vs. the pass – and – (2). Cougar sophomore RB Tyler Allgeier (#25) (currently ranked No. 9 in the nation in rushing yards per game) vs. a Bronco D ranked No. 108 in the FBS against the run.

3:30pm ET – ESPN – Florida State at North Carolina

After coming into 2021 ranked No. 10 in the preseason AP poll, North Carolina is 3-2. Despite the unmet expectations, the Tar Heels still have a high-powered passing attack, currently ranked No. 15 nationally and No. 3 in the ACC. It’s a concrete strength that might make UNC look like it’s righted the ship against a Florida State defense that’s No. 103 nationally and No. 12 in the ACC vs. the pass.

4pm ET – FOX – (4) Penn State at (3) Iowa

4pm ET – SEC Network – North Texas at Missouri

Though they’re 19-point favorites and ought to be out for revenge after getting smashed 62-24 by Tennessee last week, Missouri’s biggest weakness could be further exposed by – yes, I’m going to say it – North Texas. Where the Mean Green are a top rushing team (No. 1 in the C-USA and No. 26 overall), no team in the FBS has given up more ground yards this year than have the Tigers. While you’ve got to figure that the gap in talent between the two programs – with far different access to resources – will prevent an upset…this is why they play the game. It’s reality TV at its finest! Keep an eye on North Texas senior RB DeAndre Torrey (#3) – the No. 3 back in the FBS.

7pm ET – ESPN – TCU at Texas Tech

7:30pm ET – ABC – (9) Michigan at Nebraska

7:30pm ET – ACC Network – (14) Notre Dame at Virginia Tech

7:30pm ET – SEC Network – LSU at (16) Kentucky

8pm ET – CBS – (1) Alabama at Texas A&M

8pm ET – FOX – Utah at USC

Where USC’s passing attack is the best in the Pac-12, Utah’s pass D is the third best in the league. It sets up for a solid strength vs. strength matchup for two teams – which after starting the season in the Top 25 and combining for a 5-4 mark thus far – desperately needing a Week 6 win to keep hope alive.

10:30pm ET – ESPN – UCLA at Arizona

10:30pm ET – CBSSN – New Mexico State at Nevada

If you’re up late and want to add a splash of yardage to your final beverage of the evening, tune into this sleeper to watch New Mexico State’s defense (which gave up 382 and 352 passing yards respectively in back-to-back games vs. New Mexico and FCS South Carolina State) try and stop a Nevada offense averaging 331 air yards per game (No. 9 in the FBS).

OFF THIS WEEK (28)

  • ACC: Boston College, Clemson, Miami Fla., (23) NC State, Pitt
  • American: South Florida
  • Big Ten: Indiana, Minnesota, Northwestern, Purdue
  • Big 12: Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, (12) Oklahoma State
  • C-USA: Louisiana Tech, Rice
  • Independents: Army
  • MWC: Fresno State, Hawaii, UNLV, Utah State
  • Pac-12: Cal, Colorado, (8) Oregon, Washington
  • SEC: Mississippi State
  • Sun Belt: Appalachian State, Louisiana

REUNITED…And it feels so good   

  • Middle Tennessee at Liberty (only-ever meeting in 1982)
  • North Texas at Missouri (only-ever meeting in 1995)

STREAKERS

7: Washington State has won 7-straight over Oregon State (last loss in 2013)

7: (20) Florida has won 7-straight over Vanderbilt (last loss in 2013)

7: (25) San Diego State has won 7-straight over New Mexico (last loss in 2008)

8: (1) Alabama has won 8-straight over Texas A&M (last loss in 2012)

9: USC has won 9-straight home games over Utah (only loss there in 1916)

NEVER-LAND

  • Charlotte has NEVER beaten FIU (0-5)
  • Maryland has NEVER beaten (7) Ohio State (0-6)
  • Old Dominion has NEVER won AT Marshall (0-3)
  • South Alabama has NEVER won AT Texas State (0-3)
  • Texas A&M has NEVER beaten (1) Alabama at home (0-5)
  • Virginia has NEVER won AT Louisville (0-4)

PERFECT STORMS

Vanderbilt at (20) Florida (Saturday, Noon ET, SEC Network)

Not only do the Gators have the best rushing attack in the SEC, their 292 yards per game earns them the No. 3 rank in the FBS. Only option-centric Army and Air Force have averaged more. Florida hung up 244 ground yards on (1) Alabama, a defense that on average has given up 111. It sets the stage for a rush-fest vs. Vanderbilt, the second-most-generous rushing defense in the SEC, ranked No. 112 nationally and allowing 203 ground yards per game. Look for Florida to bounce back in a big way vs. the Commodores.

Virginia at Louisville (Saturday, 3pm ET, ACC Network)

If you haven’t heard, Virginia is ranked No. 2 – in the nation – in passing yards per game. Cue up Louisville, the bottom team in the ACC vs. the pass and this could be one of the most entertaining games of Week 6. Where the Cavaliers are averaging 398 air yards per game, the Cardinals are allowing 261. Keep an eye on Virginia’s dynamic duo of junior QB Brennan Armstrong (#5) (No. 2 in the FBS in passing yards per game) and sophomore WR Dontayvion Wicks (#3) (No. 9 in the FBS in receiving yards per game and No. 7 in yards per catch).

HARDWARE UP FOR GRABS

THE GANSZ TROPHY – (24) SMU at NavySaturday, 3:30pm ET, CBSSN – series started in 1930 – Navy leads 13-9 but the two have split the last four, the home team winning on each occasion.

First awarded in 2009, the Gansz Trophy honors Frank Gansz, a highly regarded, longtime special teams coach in college and the NFL. Gansz played at Navy from 1957-59, was an assistant coach there from 1969-72 and then was the special teams coach at SMU from 2008 until he passed away in 2009. Navy has won seven Gansz’s vs. SMU’s two.

THE GOLDEN HAT TROPHY – (6) Oklahoma vs. (21) Texas (at Dallas, Texas) – Saturday, Noon ET, ABC – series started in 1900 – Texas leads 62-49-5 but Oklahoma has won five of the last six.

Awarded to the annual winner of the Red River Showdown (a.k.a. the Red River Rivalry/Classic/Shootout), the Golden Hat dates to 1941 when the Texas State Fair presented it to the rivalry.  Originally called the “Bronze Hat,” it was upgraded to the gold standard in 1969. According to legend, it’s one of the few long-standing traveling awards that has never been stolen, lost, broken or vandalized. The Longhorns have worn the hat 40 times vs. the Sooners’ 38. The 1995, 1984 and 1976 games ended in ties.

THE SADDLE TROPHY – TCU at Texas TechSaturday, 7pm ET, ESPN – series started in 1926 – Texas Tech leads 32-28-3 but TCU has won three of the last four.

A renewed tradition, the Battle for the Saddle was reignited in 2017. The original prize dates to 47-years ago, in 1961 (Tech’s second season in the Southwest Conference), when the Lubbock Avalanche Journal and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram combined forces and tagged the rivalry “The West Texas Championship of the Southwest Conference.” The original Saddle was in use until 1970 when it mysteriously disappeared after each school had won it five times. When TCU joined the Big 12 in 2012 there was a push to resurrect the award. The Horned Frogs have won the new Saddle three times vs. the Red Raiders’ once.

MIND-BLOWER

(9) Michigan’s visit to Nebraska this Saturday night marks only the third time in history that the Wolverines have played in Lincoln. Given that the first two trips resulted in a loss (23-9 in 2012) and a tie (6-6 in 1911) it’s also an opportunity for Michigan to score its first ever win at Nebraska.

Not surprisingly, it’s the only current Big Ten venue that the Wolverines have never won at.

The only other current Power 5 destinations that Michigan has visited previously but never scored a victory at are (8) Oregon and Utah. The Wolverines made the trek to Eugene just once, in 2003, when at No. 3 in the AP they fell to the No. 22 ranked Ducks 31-27. They’ve also visited Salt Lake City on only one occasion, in the 2015 season opener, a 24-17 loss to the Utes.

The reality is Michigan has only traveled to other Power 5 venues sporadically throughout its football history. The conference it’s visited the most frequently is the Pac-12, where it’s played roadies at eight out of the 12 current destinations. Other than their 0-1 records at Oregon and Utah, the Wolverines are 3-1 at Cal, 2-2 at Washington, 2-1 at Stanford, 2-1 at UCLA, 1-0 at Colorado and 1-0 at USC.

From the ACC, Michigan has only ever visited Syracuse (2-3), Boston College (2-0) and Duke (1-0). As for the SEC, it’s only Vanderbilt (2-0-1) and South Carolina (1-0). Michigan has never visited a current Big 12 venue.

Historical data courtesy of Sports Reference-College Football. Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com. Odds courtesy of Oddshark.com.

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Comments (2)

@AmyDaughters,

Dan-ke for your well researched Weekly Feature.

I especially enjoy the matches which haven’t been played very often.

Regarding those matchups outside a P5s Region, when they profess to be a national brand & nationally relevant but they don’t have to risk going outside their same ole lineup of In-Conference Midmajors, Doormats & Nonconference Patsies (whom they play approximately every 3-4 Years) allows for some fresh chatter in place of the yearly playback Loop. Examples, AL, GA, PA State, OK, OH State, OR, MI, MI State, ND, Auburn, FL, TX.