Last week saw numerous upsets of undefeated teams, and suddenly we are left with just five. Western Michigan’s 52-20 blowout of Ball State on Tuesday assures we’ll have at least one after this week, although on paper it appears unlikely any of the other four will fall.
This being said, there are numerous games on the schedule with ambitious spreads, making Week 10 a good opportunity to recover from Week 9's craziness.
No. 1 Alabama at No. 13 LSU
Line: Alabama, -7.5
In four SEC contests, LSU QB Danny Etling has completed just three attempts of at least 20 yards through the air out of 18 tries. Without the threat to stretch Alabama vertically, the Crimson Tide will crown the box and make for another tough day on the ground for RB Leonard Fournette, who managed just 31 yards on 19 carries against Alabama last year. Another comfortable win for the best team in the country this week and we can start to look forward to what is sure to be another outstanding Iron Bowl.
Prediction: Alabama 33, LSU 16
No. 10 Nebraska at No. 6 Ohio State
Line: Ohio State, -17
The Nebraska defense continues to play outstanding, but the focus remains on the struggles of QB Tommy Armstrong Jr., who has thrown six interceptions in his last four contests. He could be due for a big rebound game this week, however, especially if the Buckeyes don’t match up one of their top corners against Jordan Westerkamp in the slot (Northwestern’s Austin Carr tore up Ohio State from the slot last week with eight catches and 158 yards). Give the Buckeyes the edge for being at home at night, but this will be another close one.
Prediction: Ohio State 17, Nebraska 16
No. 8 Wisconsin at Northwestern
Line: Wisconsin, -7
Vegas is showing Northwestern more respect than they did last week when they were a 26.5 point dog in Columbus, but considering they’re home this week they’re still very capable of covering this much smaller spread. Not only is the Wildcat defense playing well, but WR Austin Carr ranks fourth in the country in yards from the slot and second in yards per route run. While Wisconsin will do a better job of shutting him down than Ohio State did last week, this will be another fight to the last possession.
Prediction: Wisconsin 17, Northwestern 13
No. 14 Oklahoma at Iowa State
Line: Oklahoma, -20.5
While last week’s blowout over Kansas prevented WR Dede Westbrook from getting the volume he needed to post his fifth-straight 100-yard game (he caught all five targets his way for 99 yards), but he did for a staggering seven missed tackles after the catch. Oklahoma will win big again, but this time Westbrook will stay in the game long enough to get back into triple digit yardage.
Prediction: Oklahoma 47, Iowa State 19
UCLA at No. 21 Colorado
Line: Colorado, -13
Colorado gets a huge break, as UCLA QB Josh Rosen’s season is over due to a shoulder injury. The Buffaloes come in fresh off their bye, and are well-positioned to get to the Pac-12 title game in December. CBs Chidobe Awuzie and Ahkello Witherspoon have combined to give up just one TD through the air this season, and won’t be giving up a second tonight.
Prediction: Colorado 28, UCLA 10
San Jose State at No. 24 Boise State
Line: Boise State, -29.5
This will be Boise State’s first double-digit win in a month, despite being favored to do just that against each of its last three opponents. This being said, San Jose State QB Kenny Potter is coming off his best performance of the season (he completed seven of 13 throws at least 10 yards through the air for for 197 yards and two touchdowns against UNLV last week), and I don’t think the Broncos are playing well enough right now to cover such a large margin.
Prediction: Boise State 34, San Jose State 17
No. 4 Texas A&M at Mississippi State
Line: Texas A&M, -13.5
LT Martinas Rankin has already yielded four sacks and 12 total pressures for Mississippi State this season, and considering he’ll be facing the likes of Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall this week (who have combined for eight sacks and 66 total pressures), those totals are likely to go up.
Prediction: Texas A&M 36, Mississippi State 18
No. 7 Louisville at Boston College
Line: Louisville, -25
Boston College heads home after posting its first conference win since 2014, but don’t expect a back-to-back effort. While Louisville QB Lamar Jackson has a QB rating of just 63.1 this season when under pressure (something he is likely to see on Saturday), the Eagles won’t be able to stop his formidable ground game.
Prediction: Louisville 36, Boston College 13
Georgia Tech at No. 21 North Carolina
Line: North Carolina, -10.5
DT Patrick Gamble is the only Yellow Jacket with more than one sack this season, and he's managed just 10 total pressures. North Carolina QB Mitch Trubisky has thrown for 16 touchdowns and just two interceptions with a clean pocket this season, and has an overall QB rating of 112.8. North Carolina will win comfortably and stay in contention for the ACC championship.
Prediction: North Carolina 31, Georgia Tech 13
Maryland at No. 3 Michigan
Line: Michigan, -31
Maryland has rushed for a combined 561 yards and forced 13 missed tackles on the ground the past two weeks. While the Wolverines missed a combined 10 missed tackles against the Spartans last week, they had previously missed just 19 on the season, and should be able to return to prior form. Without a viable passing threat, Maryland won’t be able to move the ball on Michigan.
Prediction: Michigan 35, Maryland 7
Syracuse at No. 2 Clemson
Line: Clemson, -27
Despite being at home, this game has hangover written all over it. Syracuse has had two weeks to prepare for this game, and has the fire power on offense to keep this one close longer than the Tigers want. Enjoy the matchup of Clemson CB Cordrea Tankersley and Syracuse WR Amba Etta-Tawo, as they are two of the country’s best at their respective position.
Prediction: Clemson 41, Syracuse 26
No. 19 Virginia Tech at Duke
Line: Virginia Tech, -11.5
Duke lost top RB Jela Duncan to a torn Achilles last weekend, and they will sorely miss his 5.1 yards per carry and 18 forced missed tackles. With the Hokies getting two extra days of rest after defeating Pitt last Thursday and in the hunt for the ACC championship game, don’t expect a hiccup this week.
Prediction: Virginia Tech 38, Duke 10
No. 18 Oklahoma State at Kansas State
Line: Kansas State, -2.5
Mason Rudolph was absolutely on fire last week, as his six incompletions consisted of one inaccurate ball, one drop and four throw-aways. Considering how much trouble Kansas State had with Iowa State’s passing offense last week, expect the Cowboys to continue their push toward Bedlam, which could decide the Big 12 championship.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 36, Kansas State 23
TCU at No. 17 Baylor
Line: Baylor, -7.5
TCU has missed a combined 38 tackles its last two games. With Baylor’s explosive spread offense and ability to run the ball, the Horned Frogs have almost no chance of covering this generous spread, which seems like an overreaction to the Bears’ Week 9 loss to Texas.
Prediction: Baylor 38, TCU 16
No. 11 Florida at Arkansas
Line: Florida, -5.5
The Gators have been the beneficiaries of a very vanilla schedule thus far, and the Razorbacks appear to be getting good news on the injury front this week. Arkansas QB Austin Allen has completed 59 percent of his throws longer than nine yards through the air, which is a dynamic the Gators simply haven’t seen yet. I don’t see Florida covering this spread, and would not be at all surprised to see them lose outright.
Prediction: Florida 24, Arkansas 23
Vanderbilt at No. 9 Auburn
Line: Auburn, -25.5
Yes, Vanderbilt again has a solid defense, led by our top-graded ILB Zach Cunningham. However, having faced the likes of South Carolina, Florida, Kentucky and Georgia thus far in SEC play, the Commodores simply haven’t seen a team the caliber of Auburn. Cunningham missed 13 tackles in 2015, and currently sits at 12 this year; expect him to add a couple more on Saturday and surpass last year’s number.
Prediction: Auburn 37, Vanderbilt 11
Arizona at No. 25 Washington State
Line: Washington State, -17
The Cougars have struggled to cover manageable spreads in recent weeks, which means this week it’d make perfect sense for them to cover a large one. Nothing is clicking on offense right now for the Wildcats, and considering they have their pass rush grades only 10th in the conference and coverage just ninth, expect Washington State QB Luke Falk to have a big day.
Prediction: Washington State 38, Arizona 20
Kansas at No. 20 West Virginia
Line: West Virginia, -34.5
Kansas hasn’t been within 35 points of a team on the road yet this season, and there’s no reason to believe that will start this week. West Virginia WR Daikiel Shorts Jr. has converted 76.5 percent of his targets into catches this season (39 catches on 51 targets), and should come close to reaching last week’s total of eight.
Prediction: West Virginia 48, Kansas 7
No. 22 Florida State at North Carolina State
Line: Florida State, -5.5
North Carolina State seems like a dangerous road opponent, but the fact of the matter is they haven’t reached 20 points in a game since hosting Wake Forest in Week 5. QB Ryan Finley is completing just 48.4 percent of his throws under pressure this season — something he is sure to face a ton of on Saturday.
Prediction: Florida State 31, North Carolina State 14
No. 5 Washington at Cal
Line: Washington, -16.5
Cal has struggled on defense all season, and making matters worse is the fact their only two viable pass rushers have gone cold. In the past three games, James Looney and Cameron Saffle have combine for just four total pressures. This will not suffice against Washington QB Jake Browning, who should be much more involved in the Heisman discussion than he already is.
Prediction: Washington 48, Cal 27
Iowa at No. 12 Penn State
Line: Penn State, -7.5
After their second home Big Ten loss of the season in week nine, the Hawkeyes are being written off in the conference. Yes, Penn State has been on a significant upward trajectory, but Iowa has a distinct advantage at the line of scrimmage on each side of the ball. Look for the Iowa defensive line to get a significant push, which will allow inside backer Josey Jewell to improve upon his already fifth-ranked (nationally) run stopped percentage.
Prediction: Iowa 20, Penn State 17