Temple Owls (3-2) @ Cincinnati Bearcats (4-0) – Nippert Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
Saturday 9th October – 12am (UK)
Cincinnati 29 point favourites at the time of writing
Despite the huge point spread, this game should be fun to watch with both teams having a lot of offensive talent. Unfortunately for Temple, their talent level isn’t quite at the level of Cincinnati, and so despite some fireworks, this should be a fairly easy win for the fifth ranked team in the country.
The Owls come into the game off the back of a good win against Memphis. After being down by 17 points at halftime, they fought their way back for a memorable win thanks to a huge play by the lightning quick Amad Anderson. Anderson is joined by Jayden Blue and Jordan Smith in a strong receiver room, but they come up against the incredibly highly rated Ahmad Gardner and a dominant Bearcats secondary.
The reason that the Owls’ Receiver room is getting so many plaudits this year is the play of QB, D’wan Mathis. The former four star recruit has played consistently at a high level, completing more than 60% of his passes with a 5-1 touchdown to interception ratio and proving why he had offers from the likes of Ohio State and Oregon coming out of High School. If he can continue to play up to the early standards he’s setting, he could find himself in the same position as the man leading the offense on the other side of the field on Friday night.
Desmond Ridder is a real feel-good story for Cincinnati, the three star prospect has helped transform his programme along with Head Coach, Luke Fickell. Now, as a four year starter, he has a real chance to make a career for himself on Sundays. After a big win against Notre Dame last weekend Ridder finds himself against the 8th ranked passing defense in the country this week, but it would take a brave man to bet against him getting the job done.
Stanford Cardinal (3-2) @ Arizona State Sun Devils (4-1) – Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona
Saturday 9th October – 3.15am (UK)
Arizona State 13 point favourites at the time of writing
One for those of you who are either up way too early on a Saturday, or those who have fully committed to the American sports life and are pulling an all-nighter to watch this Pac-12 matchup.
Arizona State are the 22nd ranked favourite as they welcome Stanford to the heat and humidity of Tempe. Other than a week three stumble against BYU, the Sun Devils have looked good this season. They ran up 42 points on UCLA last weekend, utilising the one-two punch of Rachaad White and DeaMonte Trayanum to grind the Bruins into submission.
There’s a good level of draftable talent across the Sun Devils’ team, from the Cornerback tandem of Chase Lucas and Jack Jones through to White and standout Left Tackle, Kellen Diesch. Signal caller, Jayden Daniels, is probably the most exciting talent on the roster, utilising a dual threat skill set to beat opposition defenses in the manner in which they’re least expecting.
However, this won’t be an easy game for ASU. Stanford have proven to be the playoff dream destroyer so far in 2021, trampling USC and getting Clay Helton fired, before sneaking past Oregon last week thanks to some dodgy officiating. In Tanner McKee they’ve found a really strong option at Quarterback to replace Davis Mills, and through five games he has been dealing.
The Cardinal defense have also been sneaky good this year, not allowing more than 28 points in any one game all season. They are, however, susceptible against the run, and with Daniels and White on the other side of the ball you’d expect Arizona State to get the job done eventually in this one.
Oklahoma Sooners (5-0) @ Texas Longhorns (4-1) – Cotton Bowl Stadium, Dallas, Texas
Saturday 9th October – 5pm (UK)
Oklahoma 3.5 point favourite at the time of writing
It’s Red River Rivalry time! One of the most anticipated games in the whole of the College Football season has finally made its way back onto our screens, and the stage is set for a really competitive game.
Prior to the season the hype was fully behind the Sooners and their high-powered offense. However, despite the 5-0 record, it just hasn’t felt right in Norman so far in 2021. The Oklahoma crowd has chanted for a QB change, the offense has struggled against West Virginia and Nebraska, and everyone has been disappointed by pedestrian performances of Eric Gray – who was tipped to do big things after transferring from Tennessee.
Defensively the Sooners were expected to be fairly average this season, but they’ve been strong – especially in the run game. The combination of Perrion Winfrey and Isaiah Thomas has been excellent on the defensive line, limiting opposition rushers to just 79 yards per game and making the Oklahoma run defense the seventh best in the country.
Of course, that run defense is set to match up against the best Running Back in College Football this week. Bijan Robinson is having a monster season, he’s already racked up 819 yards from scrimmage, 9 TDs and 6.2 yards per carry – and he doesn’t look like he can be stopped whenever he has the ball in his grasp. Despite the mean opposition, Steve Sarkisian will be more than willing to turn to his superstar in the making whenever the chains need to be moved, it’ll be up to Alex Grinch’s defense to stop him.
Both Quarterbacks are at different stages of their career in this one. Spencer Rattler was anointed as the first overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft before this season had even begun, it’s fair to say that he hasn’t lived up to that yet, but the potential is very much there. Casey Thompson lost the camp battle for the Texas starting job but his patience paid off and he’s since grasped the opportunity that has been presented to him.
Oklahoma have stuttered and stumbled to 5-0 this week, the Rivalry game would be the perfect time for them to snap into the team that everyone expected them to be. However, with the best RB in the college game and Steve Sarkisian’s offensive mind, the Longhorns feel like the best bet in this one.
Michigan Wolverines (5-0) @ Nebraska Cornhuskers (3-3) – Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Nebraska
Sunday 10th October – 12am (UK)
Michigan 3.5 favourites at the time of writing
The points spread doesn’t make a lot of sense in this one. Michigan are coming off the back of a victory in which they showed they could move the ball through the air when their run game stalled. Nebraska haven’t been able to put up points on above average defenses all season. Yet the Wolverines enter as just 3.5 point favourites.
Many have questioned Jim Harbaugh since he took the Michigan in 2015, but the 2021 Wolverines seem to have found a balance on offense that hasn’t been there in previous years. The rushing tandem of Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum have been thoroughly dominant in every game other than last week’s win over Wisconsin, Cade McNamara has kept the offense ticking over at QB, and the offensive line has been aggressive on every snap.
Harbaugh will be trying to dampen talk of the playoffs in the run up to this game, but it isn’t hard to look at this Wolverines team and think that they’ve got serious potential to challenge at the top end of the rankings come December. Aidan Hutchinson is right up there with the best draft prospects in this year’s class, and he should make mincemeat of a Nebraska line that has been shaky all season long. Brad Hawkins is consistently underrated at Safety, but he’s already beaten his season best for passes defended and will be looking to get his first career INT against Adrian Martinez this week.
Martinez and co have blown hot and cold all year, from stinking the place out against Illinois in the opener to a 56-7 rout of Northwestern last week. If they’re to get anything from this one they’ll rely on the three headed monster in the backfield, with Jaquez Yant, Rahmir Johnson and Martinez all effective on the ground. If they do fall behind early then the player to watch on the Cornhuskers offense is undoubtedly Samori Toure (WR) who has been a consistent big play threat all season long.
Given the form of Michigan it’s hard to see anything other than a win for the Wolverines in this one – there’s definitely value in increasing the handicap as well.
Alabama Crimson Tide (5-0) @ Texas A&M Aggies (3-2) – Kyle Field, College Station, Texas
Sunday 10th October – 1am (UK)
Alabama 18 point favourites at the time of writing
The spread on this one has grown gradually all week, with punters seemingly happy to take Alabama -16, -17 and -18. The reason for this is obviously the Crimson Tide’s dominant start to the season.
A brief blip against the Gators had a lot of people excited for last week’s matchup with Ole Miss, but in reality the game was never close – Bryce Young and the Crimson Tide offense ran up the score, whilst the defense stifled Matt Corral without much trouble.
After week three the excitement level ahead of this game would also have reached fever pitch, but with back to back defeats all of the air in the Texas A&M balloon has seeped out. A 20-10 defeat to Arkansas was followed up by a 26-22 defeat to Mississippi State, and Zach Calzada has really struggled to take the reins of the Aggies’ offense and make anything happen.
Against a loaded Alabama defense including star power such as Josh Jobe, Henry To’oTo’o and Phidarian Mathis – Calzada isn’t going to have any more fun this week against Alabama. The best chance he’s got of buying some time to make a play or two is for Jimbo Fisher to utilise Isaiah Spiller and Ainias Smith as a one-two punch out of the backfield, before going to the play-action game. In reality, the score differential could be so great at the half that Fisher has no choice but to spread the offense out and abandon the run game entirely.
With Georgia’s defense the talking point of College Football through the first five weeks of the season, ‘Bama will be keen to reposition themselves as the standard to beat this week. That could be dangerous for A&M, which is why Alabama and the points makes nothing but sense.
By Andy Moore (@ajmoore21)