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College Football Week Six Picks

Jared Goff
5 Utah Utes vs. 23 California Golden Bears 9:00 pm (CT) on ESPN
I don't think anyone at the start of the year would predict that these two teams would be the last two undefeated teams in the Pac-12. But yet, here we are, the 4-0 and fifth-ranked Utes going up against the 5-0 Golden Bears. Cal features one of the nation's most explosive and pass-happy offenses, one led by NFL prospect Jared Goff at quarterback. The junior has thrown for 1,630 yards and 15 touchdowns in just five games, spreading the ball around to a number of big play threats that include leading receiver Kenny Lawler. While Cal has proven they can score points in bunches (nearly 360 pass yards a game, averaging 43 points per game) Utah has proven they can win in really the complete opposite way. Utah has been fantastic defensively all season long, and their offense is predicated around a power running attack that is far from flashy. The Utes' defense is led by a pair of impact linebackers, in Jared Norris and Gionni Paul, which have 32 tackles on the year. The pair will try to stop a sneaky effective Cal rushing attack but will also need to bring support in coverage. Goff will also have to be weary about defensive back Marcus Williams, who already has three interceptions on the year and will look to add to that total. Offensively, the Utes run a powerful and methodical offense. Back Devontae Booker won't break out many big runs but he is a workhorse who is a proven contributor for the Utes. The offense has also taken a big step from last year thanks to great play from Travis Wilson. Wilson doesn't have anything close to Goff's huge arm, but he has made the smart decisions, completing 68% of his passes with just one interception on the season. He also could give Cal's defense issues because of his running abilities (202 yards and three touchdowns with his legs so far this year). In whole, this game faces a game of completely contrasting styles that should be very intriguing. Utah is hoping to add to an impressive resume and establish themselves as the clear favorite in the Pac-12, while Cal is hoping to emerge from a crowded Pac-12 North and earn bowl eligibility for the first time since 2011, a Holiday Bowl loss to Texas. The Utes have already proven they can shut down explosive offenses (held Oregon to 20) and got a bye this past week, which should help with them preparation. Add in the fact they are the home team, and the Utes should end Saturday 5-0.
Utah, 34 California, 24

13 Northwestern Wildcats vs. 18 Michigan Wolverines 2:30 (CT) pm on Big Ten Network
While Utah and Cal certainly have been the surprises of the Pac-12, Northwestern and Michigan have been the surprises of the Midwest, entering this game with decent Playoff possibilities, particularly with Ohio State and Michigan State not playing very well. Both teams are built on defense, particularly Northwestern, who is coming off a 27-0 shutout of Minnesota. The Wildcats also held Stanford (who is putting up 40 points regularly now) to just six points, and stifled Duke. On the other side, Michigan has been on fire since a season-opening loss to Utah, evidenced by a 31-0 beatdown of BYU just a few weeks ago. The Wildcats defense will be facing a Michigan offense that isn't bad by any means, and has proven it can score in bunches. Iowa transfer Jake Rudock has looked great since the opener and the ground game has taken major strides, led by speedy De'Veon Smith. Northwestern, though, do a great job of switching up schemes and confusing opposing offenses and have one of the nation's premier linebackers in Anthony Walker, who does it all (44 tackles, seven tackles for loss). The Wildcats are also terrific at forcing turnovers, worrying for Michigan and Rudock, who had three picks in the opener. Offensively, the Wildcats are led by a superb running game led by Justin Jackson. An explosive athlete, Jackson has 636 yards on the year and has also proven to be a quality receiver out of the backfield. Young quarterback Clayton Thorson has also been very good so far this season and could present a dual threat weapon. The Wolverines defense, led by fantastic linebacker Desmond Morgan, exciting Jabrill Peppers and a strong rush defense, could certainly have their hands full. This game appears to be a very evenly-matched game. Both teams have had success in similar ways, and both are playing extremely well right now. Though, the Wolverines' offense has more consistent throughout the year and considering they are at home, they are going to be the pick. Though, if Northwestern can thwart Michigan's running game and force Rudock to throw, they may have a chance at a huge victory.
Michigan, 27 Northwestern, 21

12 Florida State Seminoles vs. Miami Hurricanes 7:00 pm (CT) on ABC
The primetime game of the week is sure to be an intriguing one, between two long ACC rivals who have not had a particular great start to the year. Florida State is still undefeated, but it is hard to get excited about who they have beaten so far (Texas State, South Florida, Boston College, Wake Forest) and the offense has faded as of late. On the other side, Miami sits at 3-1 but has significant pressure opening their conference schedule. Al Golden is widely seen as one of the nation's top hot seat coaches and another unsuccessful meeting against an archrival could only dig a greater hole for the head coach. The Seminoles are getting great production from their running attack, led by junior Dalvin Cook. Cook has 570 yards and six touchdowns on the year and has shown a knack for the big run. Unfortunately, he is listed as questionable in this game due to a hamstring injury. Plus, his backup, Mario Pender, isn't coming back any time soon with a collapsed lung. Florida State's passing game has lagged behind. Notre Dame transfer Everett Golson hasn't been bad, but hasn't been great either. He has made some poor reads and still doesn't look completely comfortable. Though, Miami's defense as a whole isn't exactly shutdown, so it could be a coming out party for Golson and the rest of the 'Noles' offense (which has managed 14 points and then 24 in their two recent wins over BC and Wake). For Miami, the Hurricanes will look to have a big day from sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya, who played well in the matchup last year. He will be joined by sophomore back Joseph Yearby in the backfield, who has also proven he can make the big play. Those two give the Hurricanes a fighting chance, but the Seminoles' defense is no joke. Defensive back Jalen Ramsey continues to dominate. The game-changing athlete can become a help in run support, a pass rusher or make plays by forcing turnovers. Either way, Miami will certainly attempt to get the ball away from him as much as possible. With Clemson's big win over Notre Dame this past weekend, the pressure is on for Florida State to keep up. A win here wouldn't be absolutely huge, but it would add a quality win to FSU's resume, which would certainly help.
Florida State, 30 Miami, 17

Other Picks
10 Oklahoma, 35 Texas, 20
6 Clemson, 27 Georgia Tech, 23
21 Oklahoma State, 35 West Virginia, 33
2 TCU, 45 Kansas State, 24
15 Notre Dame, 28 Navy, 21
Current Picks Record: 29-11

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