CFB uk tv game previews: week 6
By Joshua Edwards
5 live CFB games this weekend for UK viewers, including a blockbuster on Saturday night with Florida hosting Auburn. Josh Edwards does his thing in a quick-fire preview article for week six:
(18) UCF @ Cincinnati
The only blemish on UCFs record in 2019 is a tight, 35-34 loss on the road to Pitt. The Knights are 4-1 with wins against Florida A&M, Florida Atlantic, Stanford and UConn and have put up an average of 52 points in those victories. On Friday night they go on the road to a 3-1 Cincinnati team who are coming off a 52-14 blowout win over Marshall in West Virginia last week. The Bearcats have also beaten UCLA (in a week one upset), and Miami (OH), but were roundly thumped by Ohio State in a shutout 42-0 loss in week 2.
UCF have won 17 straight in conference regular season games but this could be their toughest test for a while. Last week they looked absolutely unstoppable against UConn, scoring 56 unanswered points, with QB Dillon Gabriel throwing three first half touchdowns to wide receiver Gabriel Davis. In its loss to Ohio State Cincinnati was 3 of 14 on third down and the Bearcats will have to improve on that when they face a UCF defense which is allowing just 27% of third down conversions.
The Knights might be out of CFB Playoff consideration after the loss to Pitt but they are a formidable force nonetheless and will likely be too good for Cincinnati. The Bearcats have lost 12 straight to ranked teams and I like UCF to cover.
Prediction: UCF 45-30 Cincinnati
(6) Oklahoma @ Kansas
The 6th ranked, 4-0 Sooners head to Kansas to face a 2-3 Jayhawks team struggling to yet find a consistent identity under first year head coach Les Miles. Alabama transfer quarterback Jalen Hurts could not be more at home in Lincoln Riley’s offense, throwing for 1295 yards and 12 touchdowns in 4 games as well as leading the team in rushing with 443 yards and 5 scores. The Sooners have beaten Houston, South Dakota, UCLA and Texas Tech and a win on Saturday would be their 15th straight over Kansas.
The Jayhawks are in transition mode, having fired David Beaty at the end of last year and hired ex-LSU/Oklahoma State HC Les Miles as well as two new co-ordinators in Les Koenning and DJ Eliot. The highlight of their season so far was the week 3, 48-24 win over Boston College, their first on the road victory against power 5 conference opposition in 49 attempts. Khalil Herbert and Pooka Williams JR provide a decent one-two punch at running back but there is not consistency in the Jayhawks offense yet under Miles.
Given how much of a mess Kansas were defensively last week against TCU, they are unlikely to provide much opposition to the Oklahoma offensive juggernaut, though over 30 points on the road is a huge spread to overcome. I like the Jayhawks to just about cover as the Sooners roll to 5-0 before heading to Texas for the Red River Shootout against Texas next week.
Prediction: Oklahoma 48-19 Kansas
(11) Texas @ West Virginia
3-1 West Virginia have enjoyed a solid opening to 2019 under first year coach Neal Brown (formerly of Troy) with wins over James Madison, NC State and Kansas. Their sole loss was against Missouri (38-7) in week two, but given the transitional element to their season, both in terms of coaching staff and the sheer amount of on field talent having moved on, the Mountaineers will be relatively pleased with the start.
Texas may well rue their tight, 45-38 week two loss to LSU. Sam Ehlinger and co. performed admirably but were ultimately beaten out by the Tigers in a humdinger of a primetime game. Their 3 wins on the year came against lesser opposition (Louisiana Tech, Rice and Oklahoma State) but the Longhorns have been impressively balanced on offense with Ehlinger throwing for 1237 yards and 15 scores, and running back Keaontay Ingram averaging 5 yards per rush on 55 carries.
Not a lot to say about this one other than that Texas are a much better team who shouldn’t have much trouble in Morgantown. I like the Longhorns to win and cover.
Prediction: Texas 34-20 West Virginia
(7) Auburn @ (10) Florida
Two 5-0 teams face off on Saturday night in primetime at the Swamp in Gainesville. Florida host Auburn in a rivalry game with College Game Day in attendance in the first meeting between the two teams since 2011. Auburn beat 11th ranked Oregon in the opener and haven’t looked back, beating another ranked team in Texas A&M (17) in week 4 and impressing everyone with their defense. Florida might not have faced a ranked team yet but they’ve been good too, especially defensively and especially against Kentucky in Lexington.
Auburn’s offensive line has given freshman QB Bo Nix all day to throw this season and it’s paid off – last week Nix averaged 16 yards per completion against Mississippi State and he seems to be growing in confidence and composure each game. The Tigers ground game is exceptional, too, with JaTarviuos Whitlow averaging over 5 yards per carry and the team averaging over 250 yards per outing. But it’s the defense which is their most dominant unit. Auburn is only allowing 3 yards per carry and hasn’t had a team break over 120 yards against them yet, which is mighty impressive when you consider the calibre of their opponents’ rush attacks (Texas A&M, Mississippi State, Tulane and Oregon).
When Florida backup quarterback Kyle Trask stepped in for the injured Feleipe Franks in week 3 no-one knew what to expect. Trask saved the day against Kentucky and had a couple of much simpler outings against Tennessee and Towson to help prepare himself for the Tigers, his first real test. On defense the Gators have been great, holding teams to fewer than 9 points per game with no opponent scoring more than 21 on them, and this week they get a couple of stars returning from injury (pass rusher Jabari Zuniga and CB CJ Henderson) to help their cause.
Still, even if Trask can defy the odds and move the ball effectively, it’s unlikely that the Gators can hang with Auburn in their current mood. I like the Tigers to get to 6-0 before their bye week.
Prediction: Auburn 25-21 Florida
(25) Michigan State @ (4) Ohio State
Michigan State started the year ranked 18th in the AP Poll but have slipped to 25 and are dangling on the precipice. They might be 4-1, having beaten Tulsa, Western Michigan, Northwestern and Indiana, but a shock week 3 loss against Arizona State has left a serious blotch on their record. The Spartans had a chance to tie the game up and send it to overtime but were subsequently penalised for fielding 12 men during the field goal, with the kicker missing the re-attempt. Senior QB Brian Lewerke has played well so far, throwing for 1325 yards, 10 touchdowns and just 1 interception on the season.
Ohio State are rolling at 5-0, averaging 52 points on offense and conceding just 8.6 per game. Last week they went into Lincoln and unceremoniously dispatched Nebraska in primetime, beating the Huskers a whopping 48-7. Justin Fields the Georgia transfer quarterback has been a revelation and has picked up where Dwayne Haskins left off with aplomb. He’s thrown for 1092 yards and 16 scores, rushed for another 7 scores and is yet to turn the ball over. The Buckeyes are ranked 4th in the country and seeking their first CFB Playoff appearance since winning the inaugural championship back in 2015.
As usual, any chance of a Spartan upset rests squarely on the shoulders of their impressive defense. The Buckeyes have looked pretty special offensively, but this week they get a proper litmus test – Michigan State are allowing less than 2 yards per carry defensively and no-one apart from Penn State has rushed for over 200 yards against them the past two seasons. The Spartans linebacker corps is one of the best in the nation, led by senior Joe Bachie and junior Antjuan Simmons, who have combined for 80 tackles on the year already.
Even though the Spartans line has been improved and is giving Lewerke more time to throw nowadays, they’re not keeping up with the Buckeyes, who have too much firepower and are clicking too well to be threatened on Saturday night, especially at home.
Prediction: Michigan State 16-37 Ohio State
JOSH IS A CFB SPECIALIST, LONG SUFFERING RESKINS FAN AND BUDDING HISTORIAN OF THE GAME BASED IN LONDON. CHECK OUT HIS ARTICLES HERE AND FOLLOW HIM @JOSHWA_1990 ON TWITTER.