Kansas State vs. Oklahoma State & Nebraska vs. Illinois Week 6 college football predictions and previews

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Week 6 Friday games feature Kansas State vs. Oklahoma State and Nebraska vs. Illinois

Friday Night Lights: College Football Edition is back, this time with a couple of major conference games, as we’ll see Kansas State take on Oklahoma State and Nebraska battle Illinois. We don’t often get Big 12 or Big Ten action on Fridays, but we’ve got some here and four teams that people are very familiar with should generate a lot more interest in these two games.

 

Let’s break ‘em both down and see if there’s a good bet to be had.

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Kansas State Wildcats (-11.5, 53.5) at Oklahoma State Cowboys

Both teams are on extra rest for this matchup in Stillwater, as Kansas State last played back on September 23 and beat UCF, while Oklahoma State suffered another setback with a loss to Iowa State. To this point, the Cowboys have only beaten FCS Central Arkansas and Arizona State in a game that featured a total of 581 yards of offense.

The Wildcats’ only blemish came against former conference foe Missouri, as the Tigers kicked a 61-yard field goal for the win at the buzzer. Kansas State led 24-17 going into the fourth quarter, but could only manage a field goal, while the Tigers scored 13 points.

It is kind of astonishing to see how far the Okie State program has fallen. This is the biggest favorite role for the Wildcats over the Cowboys since 2014 when the Wildcats won 48-14 in Manhattan. This is the first road favorite role for K-State since 2003 in this head-to-head series and they were only -2.5 in that game. In fact, this is the biggest road favorite role for the Wildcats in Stillwater since 1995.

Given that Oklahoma State ranks 117th in the nation in yards per play with 4.94, you can see why the men of Manhattan are favored by so much here. Kansas State ranks 33rd in YPP with just shy of 6.5. Defensively, both teams are on fairly equal foot, as the Cowboys have allowed about .3 yards per play more, but that huge offensive discrepancy accounts for the point spread here.

I don’t have a bet in this one, but I can certainly see and justify Kansas State being this big of a favorite.

Nebraska Cornhuskers at Illinois Fighting Illini (-3.5, 43)

We’ve got a battle between Nebraska and Illinois here, as both teams are coming off of blowout losses. The difference is that Nebraska got crushed by a consensus top-five Michigan team and Illinois got embarrassed by Purdue and former defensive coordinator Ryan Walters. Purdue won 44-19 and won the second half by a 28-6 margin to really put the rivalry game away.

Nebraska was no match for Michigan from the jump with a 45-7 loss. But, this is a big step down in class. The Cornhuskers are really reliant on QB Heinrich Haarberg now, as he leads the team in passing yards and also rushing yards after taking over for Jeff Sims. The Huskers have rushed for 5.5 yards per carry and have used the QB a lot in the running game, both with Sims and now Haarberg. 

Illinois’s rush defense surrendered 189 yards on the ground over 45 carries last week. The Fighting Illini have allowed 5.62 yards per play overall on defense. Nebraska is actually a borderline top-25 unit in yards per play allowed with 4.77. 

The two offenses are basically even in terms of yards per play on offense and the strengths of schedule are not all that different. Per Jeff Sagarin, Illinois has actually played the 10th-ranked schedule, while Nebraska’s slate ranks 26th, though Colorado seems to be continuously dropping in ratings systems.

Nevertheless, at least Nebraska is showing signs of potential improvement, while Illinois is a shell of the 8-5 team that we saw last season. My Power Ratings actually have Nebraska a very small, half-point favorite in this one. I’ll trust the numbers, especially north of a field goal.

Pick: Nebraska +3.5 (would play to +3)