At a time when all the attention in college football appears to be focused on the Big Ten and SEC, it's a definite change of pace when the biggest games of the weekend are taking place in the Pac-12 and Big 12.
That's the case for Week 6, which leads with a headline matchup featuring No. 11 Utah visiting No. 19 UCLA. The Utes, despite an early loss to Florida, remain one of the Pac-12 favorites with Southern California. But the calculation of who will finish atop the league has changed with the surprising start of the Bruins, who have reeled off five wins and could take a giant step toward the conference title game with a victory.
Even with UCLA's impressive start, the Bruins aren't the best story in college football. That honor is reserved for No. 17 Kansas, which is 5-0 and joined the Top 25 coaches poll this week for the first time in 13 years. The Jayhawks host fellow unbeaten No. 18 TCU with College GameDay in attendance in what should be a memorable day in Lawrence.
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The final ranked matchup sees No. 23 Mississippi State get a visit from No. 25 Arkansas. The Bulldogs are off an impressive win against Texas A&M, while Razorbacks are off consecutive losses to the aforementioned Aggies and Alabama. Someone will get a key win to keep their hopes of a high finish in the SEC West alive
Week 6 college football bold predictions
UCLA takes down Pac-12 favorite Utah
The top two defenses in the Pac-12 square off when Utah takes on surprising UCLA. Both also score more than 41 points a game, so something has to give. Look for UCLA to continue its hot play and after they beat the conference favorite, also look for the Bruins' viability as a fringe playoff contender. To beat Utah, Dorian Thompson-Robinson must have a 300-yard day through the air and add another 75 on the ground. It's also important for UCLA to come out of the game injury free, even though they have a week off before they travel to Oregon on Oct. 22. -- Scooby Axson
TCU spoils the amazing start by Kansas
The Red River Rivalry renews on Saturday but, improbably, the yearly showdown between Texas and Oklahoma is not even the biggest Big 12 matchup being staged at the same time. That distinction goes to No. 18 TCU vs. No. 17 Kansas. The surprising 5-0 Jayhawks already have their most wins in a season since 2009 and are seeking to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2008. The Horned Frogs, meanwhile, are off to a 4-0 start under first-year coach Sonny Dykes that includes last week’s demolition of the Sooners. Kansas has certainly captured the imagination of college football Twitter and the team should be commended for the real progress it has made in Year 2 under coach Lance Leipold. That being said: I think TCU is probably still better and will play spoiler on Kansas’ big day, which includes a first-ever visit from College GameDay. -- Jace Evans
LSU knocks off Tennessee in Death Valley
LSU figures out how to slow down Hendon Hooker and knocks off Tennessee for the first marquee win of Brian Kelly’s tenure. (No offense to Mississippi State.) It would be even bolder to predict Jayden Daniels to outplay Hooker after Daniels had just 80 passing yards in last week’s win against Auburn, so I won’t go that far. But given the Volunteers’ explosive offense, the key to an LSU victory is winning the turnover battle – so it’s a good thing Daniels is one of just four Power Five quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts to not throw an interception. One of the others is Hooker, so I’m prepared to have this pick blow up in my face. -- Paul Myerberg
No easy day for USC
Besides a difficult victory at Oregon State, Southern California has had mostly smooth sailing during Lincoln Riley's first season and with Caleb Williams at quarterback. Washington State comes to town and this might seem like a comfortable win for the Trojans ahead of their showdown with Utah next week. However, the Cougars are more than capable of an upset if USC is looking ahead. They already narrowly lost to Oregon at home in a game they led throughout. Cameron Ward has been impressive in his first year at quarterback. If Washington State can avoid the turnover bug that has bitten other Trojans' opponents, this stands to be a nail-biter. -- Erick Smith
BYU hits Las Vegas jackpot with Notre Dame win
Legendary BYU coach LaVell Edwards once quipped that when Cougars’ fans traveled to their bowl destination, they’d bring with them a $100 bill and a copy of the Ten Commandments – and break neither. Even so, there should still be a significant crowd advantage Saturday as the Cougars will be much closer to home when they take on Notre Dame in Las Vegas, even if the BYU faithful won’t be visiting the casinos.
The real edge for the Cougars, however, will be the aerial attack. Notre Dame is one of just four FBS teams yet to intercept a pass this season – Ohio, Michigan State and Fresno State are the others –, and Jaren Hall has been picked off just once in 171 attempts thus far. The Fighting Irish still won’t have a pick, and the Cougars will have another win after Saturday’s encounter. -- Eddie Timanus
Florida State rebounds at North Carolina State
The Seminoles put forth a frustrating performance last week against Wake Forest, losing 31-21 despite playing decently well in a lot of areas. Wake Forest’s maturity and experience showed on third downs, converting 10-of-18 while Florida State was just 4-of-11. But that game was just a play or two from being really interesting at the end, and it should be a good learning experience for a Seminoles team that maybe needed a little taste of reality after a 4-0 start. This is a good spot for Florida State to take a leap forward and catch an North Carolina State team that might be questioning itself a little bit after a 30-20 loss at Clemson that wasn't as close as the final score. Florida State will go on the road and win, setting up a huge showdown in Tallahassee on Oct. 15 with Clemson. -- Dan Wolken
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: LSU upsets Tennessee? College football Week 6 expert picks, predictions