No. 1 LSU at No. 2 Alabama is of course the granddaddy of them all. One-loss Kansas State at No. 3 Oklahoma State is certainly a high-stakes inner-conference marquee matchup as well. Another pair of SEC heavyweights exchange blows in Little Rock, AK and Texas A&M pursues redemption from last week’s blunder against the 6th-ranked Sooners in Norman, OK.
That’s just a small sample of the eye-catching action on tap this Saturday. Here’s my latest batch of college football predictions for Week 10. Hope you enjoy!
Last Week: 12-7 (148-32 Overall)
Note: Remember, these are not your AP, Coaches Poll or BCS rankings. There are conducted weekly by your’s truly. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, for the first time, I had to announce our latest batch over Twitter.
No. 25 Southern Miss (7-1) at East Carolina (4-4) (4:00pm EST)
This Conference USA clash doesn’t attract much of a spotlight on the national level. However, it’s an extremely critical game for both teams, as the winner takes sole possession of the lead in the C-USA East.
The Pirates have faced some tough teams in the eye, including North Carolina, Virginia Tech, South Carolina and Houston and were competitive against each of those opponents except for the latter. The Golden Eagles are equipped with one of the most balanced and potent offenses in the country, averaging over 200 yards on the ground and through the air every week.
Southern Miss has a distinct edge on offense facing a poor Pirates rush defense. The matchup between Southern Miss’s 10th-ranked pass defense and East Carolina’s 11th-ranked air attack will be incredibly interesting to watch, nonetheless. Prediction: Southern Miss 34, East Carolina 21
Indiana (1-8) at No. 24 Ohio State (5-3) (12:00pm EST)
Ohio State has won 66 of the 83 all-time meetings with Indiana. The Buckeyes are beginning to catch fire in all phases of the game. Unless they get their heads stuck in the clouds following back-to-back impressive wins over Illinois and Wisconsin, or get distracted by the upcoming competition against Michigan and Penn State, the Hoosiers will have no answers. Dan Herron just needs to pound the rock for 32 more yards to reach the 2,500-yard career mark. Prediction: Ohio State 31, Indiana 3
Louisville (4-4) at No. 23 West Virginia (6-2) (12:00pm EST)
Someone should write a book on “Understanding Big East Football.” Of course, they’d have to put it together quickly, since conference realignment seems to be changing by the hour. Nonetheless, I believe this conference, packaged in parity, can stand the test of time and constant oscillation.
I also suspect the Mountaineers will climb back to challenge the Bearcats for the top spot before officially leaving. The overpowering “MountainAir” offense is tough to stop and the most points the Cardinals have scored all year was 27 vs. Syracuse last week. Prediction: West Virginia 27, Louisville 13
No. 22 Arizona State (6-2) at UCLA (4-4) (7:30pm EST)
The preeminent key to this matchup might actually be a two-headed sword. The Sun Devils lead the nation in penalty yards (80.1 per game). This alone gives Kevin Price and the Bruins at least a fighting chance.
The Devils’ devious defense has picked off 25 passes this season and looks to send the “Fear The Fork” message to the Bruins and force Price to think twice about taking off up field on his feet. UCLA also has the home-field edge and in addition to fighting for the Pac-12 South Title, the Bruins are also vying to remain relevant and become bowl-eligible. Prediction: Arizona State 30, UCLA 16
No. 20 Florida State (5-3) at Boston College (2-6) (Thurs, 8:00pm EST)
The ‘Noles lead a taut 5-4 series over the Eagles. The six meetings as conference rivals have been split and have all been decided by 11 points or less. Rivals.com has the answer to this interesting trend.
“The Eagles follow the same script each time. They play ball control, throw short conversion passes, run the ball right at FSU’s defensive front and flip the field position with their kicking game efforts. They have also been adept at producing turnovers.”
Florida State is the first team on upset alert this week. Expect yet another tight-knit affair. The Seminoles have been hitting on all cylinders with E.J. Manuel back in the lineup, but they’re on a short week and don’t have a very good history playing on Thursday night.
Since falling to Oklahoma 23-13 and Clemson and Wake Forest 35-30 back-to-back, the ‘Noles smashed the Blue Devils and Terrapins 41-16 and just shutout N.C. State 34-0. That’s a head-scratching score inclination…you don’t think they’ll beat BC 34-0, too, do you? Not a chance, but FSU prevails. Prediction: Florida State 24, Boston College 18
Update: The Seminoles smashed the Eagles 38-7. Whoops, well at least I got the pick right.
No. 18 Houston (8-0) at UAB (1-7) (7:00pm EST)
The Cougars are working overtime in style points, record-setting and poll-watching. Case Keenum is the one pulling most of the strings and shattering records nearly every week. UAB actually leads Houston 4-3 in the series, but the Blazers are going to burst into flames here. Prediction: Houston 64, UAB 21
New Mexico State (3-5) at No. 17 Georgia (6-2) (12:30pm EST)
What an upset this would be…oh, nevermind. I haven’t heard a peep about the Mark Richt hot seat in a long time. Get used to hearing the crickets for at least another week. The Bulldogs extend the series lead to 4-0 with conviction. Prediction: Georgia 35, New Mexico State 6
No. 13 Michigan (7-1) at Iowa (5-3) (12:00pm EST)
For the third time this season, the Wolverines are on upset alert—the second team this week. Michigan is winning the old-fashion way with great balance, good defense and a strong ground game, which is made possible by the O-Line knocking opposing defenses off the line. The elusive star sophomore Denard Robinson stands behind the philosophy.
Following the 36-14 dismantling of Purdue, Robinson said, “We run the ball well and our offensive line always will open up the passing game, so we just have to keep doing it week in and week out.”
However, the Wolverines shouldn’t enter this week feeling too warm and fuzzy. Michigan is 1-1 on the road this season and that win came from a 28-0 second-half comeback against Northwestern. The Hawkeyes are 5-3 and 5-0 on their field. The series has been historically coerced by the Wolverines, as they uphold a 40-12-4 all-time lead.
The Wolverines are 16-5-1 on the road at Iowa, but the Hawkeyes have won the past two overall meetings. In addition, momentum is with Michigan, but the Hawkeyes are in a foul mood after falling to the Golden Gophers. The run game becomes the Wolverines’ saving grace. Prediction: Michigan 27, Iowa 24
Purdue (4-4) at No. 12 Wisconsin (6-2) (3:30pm EST)
The Badgers have scored a minimum of 48 points in every home game this year. The Boilermakers are 0-3 on the road and have been outscored 83-54 by Rice, Penn State and Michigan. Wisconsin leads the series 41-29-8. This team had Big Ten Title and National Championship aspirations two weeks ago and was considered a top frontrunner to do so as well. Now, after back-to-back last-second road losses, the Badgers need to run the table to have any chance at playing for the conference championship. Russell Wilson and company get things rebooted and play with a vengeance in Madison. Prediction: Wisconsin 41, Purdue 10
Minnesota (2-6) at No. 11 Michigan State (6-2) (12:00pm EST)
Mark Dantonio has turned the Spartans’ fate around fundamentally in the month of November. After an inevitable slip-up versus the Huskers, Michigan State returns home to East Lansing for a date with the newfound confident Golden Gophers. Sparty gets up quick and dominates all game. Prediction: Michigan State 38, Minnesota 17
Northwestern (3-5) at No. 9 Nebraska (7-1) (3:30pm EST)
Perhaps a possible trap for Nebraska, Northwestern compiled 616 yards of total offense last week in a 59-38 romp over Indiana, the Wildcats’ first conference win of the season. Dan Persa and Kain Colter are versatile, athletic and tough to stop when they’re in the field of play. The ‘Cats also traded punches with the Hawkeyes, Nittany Lions, Wolverines and Fighting Illini and went toe-to-toe with each of those four foes for quite a while. The biggest question in this game is if the ‘Huskers can avoid an emotional letdown. Nebraska leads the series 3-1 and Northwestern is historically a good road team. Prediction: Nebraska 42, Northwestern 28
No. 8 Oregon (7-1) at Washington (6-2) (10:30pm EST)
Washington maintains a 58-40-5 lead over Oregon in the head-to-head series. However, the Ducks have forced the Huskies into some tough sledding over recent years, winning the last seven straight meetings. Away from Autzen Stadium, and Quack Attack perhaps focused some on Stanford, look for an entertaining conference collision between two finesse Pac-12 foes. Prediction: Oregon 41, Washington 30
No. 15 South Carolina (7-1) at No. 7 Arkansas (7-1) (7:15pm EST)
Arkansas has won its last two games against Ole Miss and Vanderbilt by just eight points combined both in come-from-behind fashion. South Carolina, without the much-needed services of Marcus Lattimore, has been limited to just 14 points in each of its last two games. The Gamecocks’ stout defense hasn’t surrendered 21 points since Week 3 against Navy and not only leads the nation in pass defense, but also ranks second in pass efficiency. Tyler Wilson has been hitting on all cylinders, however. Interesting enough, both of these teams are adept in playing from behind. Something’s gotta give. Prediction: Arkansas 27, South Carolina 20
No. 19 Texas A&M (5-3) at No. 6 Oklahoma (7-1) (3:30pm EST)
The Sooners are the third team on upset alert this week. The angry Aggies were stunned in the heart-wrenching overtime loss to Missouri and Oklahoma enters the week following a 58-17 dismantling of Kansas State. OU earns its 19th victory in the 30th meeting in a Big 12 shootout. Prediction: Oklahoma 31, Texas A&M 24
No. 5 Boise State (7-0) at UNLV (2-5) (10:30pm EST)
The Rebels play much better at home, but this is Boise State coming off bye week. Kellen Moore, 45-2 as a starter, looks to surpass Colt McCoy as the record-holder for most wins at the quarterback position in FBS history in commanding fashion. Prediction: Boise State 54, UNLV 10
No. 4 Stanford (8-0) at Oregon State (2-6) (3:30pm EST)
A blowout on paper, this Pac-12 affair might come with a warning label. The Cardinal possess the nation’s best 16-game winning streak and after winning a 3OT thriller over USC, Stanford faces these Dam Workers before dueling it out with Quack Attack. With Andrew Luck under center, I can’t see this team losing one to lowly Oregon State, but it could be a struggle. Prediction: Stanford 48, Oregon State 17
No. 14 Kansas State (7-1) at No. 3 Oklahoma State (8-0) (8:00pm EST)
The Cowboys lead the series over the Wildcats 35-22. K-State ranks fourth in the country in time of possession (34:25) with a run-heavy offense led by QB Colin Klein. I look for the Wildcats to hang around longer than expected, but the pokes pull it out in Stillwater. Prediction: Oklahoma State 34, Kansas State 23
No. 1 LSU (8-0) at No. 2 Alabama (8-0) (8:00pm EST)
Dubbed the “Game of the Week,” “Game of the Year,” “Game of the Century,” etc. If you’re not watching this game, you better save at least set your DVR. Even cavemen are tuning in. SI.com’s Stewart Mandel described the scene on Twitter as he entered town on Friday.
“It’s like a Gameday on University in Tuscaloosa. Traffic at a standstill. Never seen so many fans out the day before a game.”
I’m not the least bit surprised. It’s the SEC. It’s the two best teams in the country. Two legendary iconic head coaches. Two rosters that combine for likely five first-round draft picks in the 2012 NFL Draft.
The Tigers’ road record under the lights is off-the-charts and the Crimson Tide has won 25 of their last 26 games in T’Town. With the recent tragedy on April 27th and with everything on the line, expect Bama to play incredibly inspired. Still, this should go right down to the end of the wire…perhaps even in overtime.
Special teams, Trent Richardson, clock management, quarterback performances, and oh yeah, the defenses, will determine the outcome. There’s a chance these two teams could meet again in the BCS National Championship as well. But that’s another argument for another day…probably Sunday after the game. A ton of fun-to-watch matchups. I’ll be glued to my seat….when I’m not standing up of course. Enjoy this one, folks! Prediction: Alabama 21, LSU 17
Verse of This Piece: “A gentle answer will calm a person’s anger, but an unkind answer will cause more anger.”—Proverbs 15:1