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Stan Becton | | October 11, 2021

The college football fan's guide to Week 6 games

College football rankings: Iowa, Cincinnati move up in AP poll

Week 6 of college football looks to continue a chaotic season filled with upsets and surprises. Last week saw a season-high nine losses by ranked teams, with four top-10 teams losing on the same day for the first time since Oct. 13, 2018. Entering Week 6, ranked teams should be on high alert.

There is one top-5 matchup this week: No. 4 Penn State against No. 3 Iowa. Overall, four games this week feature two ranked opponents. Here are some other games you shouldn't miss.

Week 6 preview: Games to watch

Friday, Oct. 8

Stanford at No. 22 Arizona State | 10:30 p.m. | ESPN

Stanford enters Week 6 fresh off its second win against a ranked opponent, defeating then-No. 3 Oregon. The Cardinal will get a chance at a third ranked win against Arizona State, a new entrant to the AP Top 25. The Friday night matchup will see two of the Pac-12's top quarterbacks face off in Stanford's Tanner McKee and Arizona State's Jayden Daniels. This game may be an early preview of the Pac-12 Championship.

Players to watch: QB Tanner McKee (STAN), RB Austin Jones (STAN), DL Thomas Booker (STAN), DB Kyu Blu Kelly (STAN), QB Jayden Daniels (ASU), RB Rachaad White (ASU), DL Tyler Johnson (ASU), DB Chase Lucas (ASU)

SPOOKY SZN: 6 questions we're asking entering college football's scariest month

Saturday, Oct. 9

No. 6 Oklahoma vs. No. 21 Texas (Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas) | 12 p.m. | ABC

Although Oklahoma is undefeated, the last three wins have not come easy. Two weeks ago against West Virginia, preseason Heisman Trophy favorite QB Spencer Rattler received boos from the home Sooner crowd. Last week against Kansas State, Rattler struggled with downfield passes, completing zero passes with one interception on throws of 20 or more yards. Struggles aside, Oklahoma’s record remains unblemished entering the Red River Showdown.

On the other side of the rivalry, Texas has rebounded nicely since a Week 2 loss. The Longhorns have averaged 53.3 points in their last three games, highlighted by potential Heisman candidate RB Bijan Robinson’s 570 total yards and six touchdowns. Texas’ improvement is right on time as the Longhorns search for their first victory over Oklahoma since 2018.

Players to watch: QB Spencer Rattler (OU), RB Kennedy Brooks (OU), DE Isaiah Thomas (OU), QB Casey Thompson (TEX), RB Bijan Robinson (TEX), LB DeMarvion Overshown, DB Anthony Cook (TEX)

No. 13 Arkansas at No. 17 Ole Miss | 12 p.m. | ESPN

Arkansas and Ole Miss will look to bounce back after each suffered a disappointing loss last week to the nation’s top two ranked teams. Arkansas hopes its offense can rebound after being held scoreless against Georgia. Ole Miss hopes its offense can get back to its explosive ways after struggling against Alabama. The Razorbacks and Rebels each have a chance at redemption against a competitive SEC opponent.

Players to watch: QB KJ Jefferson (ARK), RB Trelon Smith (ARK), WR Treylon Burks (ARK,) DL Tre Williams (ARK), DB Montaric Brown (ARK), QB Matt Corral (MISS), WR Dontario Drummond (MISS), DL Sam Williams (MISS), LB Chance Campbell (MISS), DB Keidron Smith (MISS)

SURPRISE: 7 of the biggest September surprises in college football

UConn at UMass | 3:30 p.m. | FloSports/NESN

Come Saturday, UMass’ last win will have been 742 days ago. UConn’s last win was against UMass 714 days ago. UConn and UMass will have the chance to break 10- and 16-game losing streaks, respectively, when they meet. 

By the numbers, UMass allows the second-most yards per game in the FBS at 517.8; UConn allows the 11th-most yards per game in the FBS with 462.5. Each team ranks in the bottom six in the FBS for scoring offense

Despite the two teams' poor performances, this game could be competitive as these are comparable teams. With wins hard to come by, the Huskies and Minutemen will leave it all on the line to pick up their first win in a long, long time.

Players to watch: RB Nathan Carter (UConn), RB Kevin Mensah (UCONN), LB Jackson Mitchell (UCONN), QB Brady Olson (MASS), RB Ellis Merriweather (MASS), WR Jermaine Johnson (MASS), LB Da’Shon Ross (MASS)

No. 2 Georgia at No. 18 Auburn | 3:30 p.m. | CBS 

After a dominating top-10 win, Georgia gets another chance to flex its muscle against a ranked opponent, Auburn. This week, the Bulldogs will have to stop Auburn quarterback Bo Nix. Nix is coming off a 329 total yard performance in a thrilling comeback victory over LSU. On defense, the Tigers may get a boost if All-SEC linebacker Owen Pappoe makes his return after missing last week.

Also potentially returning this week is Georgia quarterback JT Daniels. Even if Daniels misses time again, QB Stetson Bennett has shown he can manage a game effectively. Whoever starts at quarterback will have the help of a dominant defense; the Bulldogs allow 4.6 points per game, good for first in the country by seven points. Against Auburn, Georgia's defense has the chance to hold an SEC team scoreless for the third consecutive week. 

Players to watch: QB JT Daniels (UGA), QB Stetson Bennett (UGA), RB Zamir White (UGA), LB Nakobe Dean (UGA), LB Nolan Smith (UGA), QB Bo Nix (AUB), RB Tank Bigsby (AUB), S Smoke Monday (AUB)

RECAP: How Georgia dominated Arkansas

No. 4 Penn State at No. 3 Iowa | 4 p.m. | Fox Sports

The Big Ten is home to the week's biggest game as No. 4 Penn State visits No. 3 Iowa. The Nittany Lions are amid a remarkable turnaround, becoming the first team since 1989 Tennessee to start 5-0 after starting the previous season 0-5. A big part of the turnaround has been the Penn State defense; the Nittany Lions tote the second-best red zone defense while allowing 24 total points less per game through five games compared to the 2020 Nittany Lions.

Meanwhile, all Iowa's defense has done is force seven turnovers (six interceptions) in their last outing. CB Matt Hankins allowed zero catches last week; he and CB Riley Moss form one of the nation's top cornerback duos. With a strong defense and a rushing attack powered by RB Tyler Goodson, the Hawkeyes have found success using an old-school style of football.

We may be in for a low-scoring, classic Big Ten affair in Iowa City when these top-five teams meet.

Players to watch: QB Sean Clifford (PSU), RB Noah Cain (PSU), WR Jahan Dotson (PSU), LB Ellis Brooks, S Jaquan Brisker (PSU), RB Tyler Goodson (Iowa), C Tyler Linderbaum (Iowa), DE Zach VanValkenburg (Iowa), S Jack Koerner (Iowa)

Big Week 6 questions

What’s next for Cincinnati?

After beating Notre Dame, No. 5 Cincinnati has its second-ever top-five poll appearance (the first was in 2009). With the third- and fourth-ranked teams playing this week, the Bearcats could be in the top four come next week, a prime position for the College Football Playoff.

Yet, Cincinnati has only one opponent remaining on its schedule that is currently ranked or received votes in this week's AP Poll. The Bearcats will play No. 24 SMU on Nov. 20. The game is a long way away, but it may be Cincinnati's only chance to add to their Playoff resume. In the meantime, the Bearcats will try to take care of business, remaining unbeaten.

RANKINGS: All major college football polls

The SEC and Big Ten have stood out as the nation’s top two conferences, but which conference is better?

In the latest AP Poll, the SEC has seven ranked teams, while the Big Ten has five ranked teams. A closer look shows all five Big Ten teams ranked in the top 11. Each conference has two top-five teams. The SEC's total record is 48-21, while the Big Ten's total record is 47-24. The SEC has three of the top-eight scoring offenses. The Big Ten has three of the top-six scoring defenses.

The SEC and Big Ten have similarities across the board. With big games on par this week and beyond, there soon may be clarity on who is the nation’s best conference. 

SCHEDULE: Full FBS TV schedule and times

AP Poll Ranking Coaches Poll
Alabama 1 Alabama
Georgia 2 Georgia
Iowa 3 Iowa
Penn State 4 Penn State
Cincinnati 5 Oklahoma
Oklahoma 6 Cincinnati
Ohio State 7 Ohio State
Oregon 8 Michigan
Michigan 9 Oregon
Michigan State 11 Michigan State
Oklahoma State 12 Oklahoma State
Arkansas 13 Notre Dame
Notre Dame 14 Kentucky
Coastal Carolina 15 Coastal Carolina
Kentucky 16 Arkansas
Ole Miss 17 Ole Miss
Auburn 18 Florida
Wake Forest 19 Auburn
Florida 20 Wake Forest
Texas 21 Clemson
Arizona State 22 NC State
NC State 23 Texas
San Diego State 25 Arizona State

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