College News & Analysis

College Football Week 10 Preview: Picks, predictions, players to watch and more

Provo, UT, USA; BYU quarterback Zach Wilson (1) looks down field in the first half during an NCAA college football game against Texas State Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Provo, Utah. Mandatory Credit: Rick Bowmer/Pool Photo-USA TODAY NETWORK

Week 10 could very well be the biggest week of the entire 2020 college football regular season.

A Friday night clash with Boise State will hand BYU its toughest test of the season, with Zach Wilson getting the chance to solidify himself as QB3 in the 2021 NFL Draft and improve the College Football Playoff hopes for his squad. Then, on Saturday, we will essentially witness an SEC Championship play-in game as Florida takes on Georgia. To cap off the night, the Trevor Lawrence-less Clemson Tigers will try to avoid an upset against a Notre Dame squad that will be trying to keep their own CFP hopes alive.

Oh, and the Pac-12 is back!

With the help of PFF grades and advanced statistics — which are now available to PFF's CFB Premium Stats+ Subscribers — we can give you everything you need to know ahead of this week's top college football matchups. Please note that any picks and predictions made here are not reflective of PFF Greenline or our expert betting analysts. For this week's college football betting advice, click here!


Friday, Nov. 6 — 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

After earning a sub-65.0 passing grade in both Week 6 and Week 7, Miami quarterback D’Eriq King bounced back against Virginia in Week 8, earning an 86.6 passing grade behind a 67.7% completion percentage and a very healthy 10.4 yards per attempt. He’s the only Power Five quarterback that has a passing grade and rushing grade north of 80.0, and this week he gets an NC State defense that has been shaky at best over the first half of the year.

The Wolfpack rank third-to-last in the ACC in team defense grade and are coming off a disastrous game against North Carolina. They allowed positive expected points added (EPA) on 58% of their plays, the fourth-worst rate in an ACC game this season. NC State’s defense now has three of the 10 worst single-game performances among ACC teams in that metric this year.

Treash’s prediction: D’Eriq King runs wild and NC State loses by lots o’ touchdowns.

Seth’s prediction: Miami — Miami keeps chugging along on their quest to play in the ACC title game.

For our PFF Greenline game preview that includes win and cover probability, click here.

Sep 26, 2020; Provo, UT, USA; BYU quarterback Zach Wilson (1) warms up before the start of their NCAA college football game against Troy Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, in Provo, Utah. Credit: Rick Bowmer/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports


Friday, Nov. 6 — 9:45 p.m. ET, FS1

Zach Wilson and the BYU Cougars have a lot riding on this game — this is their opportunity to show the country that they are legit contenders.

Wilson is the highest-graded passer in college football so far this season, sitting at an incredible 93.8 PFF grade through seven starts. No quarterback has limited uncatchable passes downfield better than Wilson in 2020, as just 16.1% of his passes thrown over 10 yards downfield have been charted as uncatchably inaccurate, per PFF's ball location charting. Given the relatively poor schedule he's gone up against, there has been a lot of pushback out there when Wilson's been named among the best quarterbacks in the game, but he has done exactly what he should be doing against these inferior defenses — he's carved up each and every one.

Boise State’s defensive unit is light years better than any of the defenses the Cougars have had to face in 2020. The Broncos even fielded the seventh-highest-graded coverage unit of the week after they took on Utah State in Week 8.

As if this game wasn't already filled with matchups to watch, BYU’s defense will also have its work cut out for it, as Boise State’s offense looked near unstoppable last week with QB Jack Sears leading the way against Air Force. The graduate transfer took over for Hank Bachmeier at quarterback for his second career start (his first came in 2018 at USC), and all he did was earn a PFF grade of 93.7 to finish as the third-highest-graded quarterback of the week.

It’s unknown as of now whether it’ll be Sears or Bachmeier under center on Friday night, but one would assume Sears will take the reins after directing the program’s best single-game passing performance of the PFF College era (since 2014).

Treash’s prediction: I’m a full believer in Zach Wilson and BYU. He’s going to light it up once again and shake up the college and draft landscape.

Seth’s prediction: BYU. I'm picking BYU just because we know more about them as of right now, but Boise State has looked dominant in two games, as well. Who plays QB for the Broncos is important.

For our PFF Greenline game preview that includes win and cover probability, click here.


Saturday, Nov. 7 — 12:00 p.m. ET, FS1

The last time Indiana beat Michigan in football? Oct. 24th, 1987. If they win this one, not only would that be their first win over the Wolverines in over 30 years, but they’d be inching closer to a top 10 spot in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 1969.

The Hoosiers may be playing at home and rank 10 spots higher than the Wolverines, but they are still 3.5-point dogs.

Ever since the tail end of that Penn State game, quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been performing at the level we expected to see from him in 2020 — over the course of the last two weeks, Penix ranks sixth in the FBS in passing grade at 89.6. Last year he did everything at the quarterback position at a high level, and that hasn’t been much different in 2020.

Michigan will be looking for a huge bounce-back game after struggling on both sides of the ball in their upset loss to in-state rival Michigan State in Week 9.

Their outside cornerbacks were borderline liabilities last week, surrendering more first downs than any other unit while allowing an FBS-high 204 deep passing yards. However, the good news is that their edge duo Kwity Paye and Aidan Hutchinson — one of the best tandems in the country — have an extremely favorable matchup, as the Hoosiers offensive tackles have combined to produce the worst pass-blocking grade in the FBS. Paye, who is tied for second in total pressures generated the last two weeks (13), could be in for a big day.

Treash’s prediction: Indiana. As much as I love that Michigan edge duo, Indiana is just better at the positions that matter — quarterback and cornerback. The Wolverines' best hope is that the Hoosiers’ playcalling is conservative out of the gate, just as it was against Penn State and Rutgers.

Seth’s prediction: Indiana. If Penix Jr. continues to progress from that bad first half against Penn State, Indiana can remain undefeated.

For our PFF Greenline game preview that includes win and cover probability, click here.


Saturday, Nov. 7 — 12:00 p.m. ET, ESPN+

Shane Buechele and SMU’s deep passing attack has been rolling in 2020. Buechele is tied for sixth in deep completions with 17, fifth in deep completion rate at 55% and tied for second in deep passer rating at 139.4. Wide receiver Rashee Rice has emerged as his top deep threat with Reggie Roberson out for the year, and that Buechele-Rice connection has generated a 155.8 deep passer rating.

This week, they get to face a Temple defense that is the worst in the AAC in terms of team coverage grade at 43.5 — that’s nearly 9 grading points lower than any defense in the conference.

Treash’s prediction: SMU.

Seth’s prediction: SMU. Too much firepower for the Mustangs.

For our PFF Greenline game preview that includes win and cover probability, click here.

Dec 27, 2019; San Diego, California, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Kedon Slovis (9) throws the ball against the Iowa Hawkeyes in the first quarter during the Holiday Bowl at SDCCU Stadium. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


Saturday, Nov. 7 — 12:00 p.m. ET, FOX

USC has a rising star at quarterback and a real chance to make the CFP this season if they can steamroll the Pac-12.

Kedon Slovis dazzled in his 2019 true freshman campaign; he was the only passer to rival Joe Burrow as the most accurate passer in college football. Slovis trailed only the 2020 first overall pick in the percentage of accurate passes thrown beyond the line of scrimmage. He also maneuvered the pocket exceptionally well and made magic on long-developing plays — he earned a 90.1 PFF passing grade on pass attempts that took longer than 3 seconds from snap to pass, almost 7 grading points clear of the next returning signal-caller. Making things even scarier for the returning Pac-12, Slovis has easily the best wide receiver room in the conference at his disposal, with Amon-Ra St. Brown and Tyler Vaughns leading the way.

Arizona State, on the other hand, has some question marks hovering over its offense. Quarterback Jayden Daniels is an incredible athlete, but the passing ability is suspect — he finished 93rd among 130 FBS quarterbacks in PFF grade as a true freshman, sporting the 92nd-ranked big-time throw rate and 89th accurate-pass rate. Daniels has a big-time deep threat at his disposal with Frank Darby, but if he can’t improve as a passer, that won’t matter.

Treash’s prediction: USC by a landslide.

Seth’s prediction: USC. I'm very curious to see if Daniels progresses as a passer, but we know that Kedon Slovis is already pretty legit.

For our PFF Greenline game preview that includes win and cover probability, click here.


Saturday, Nov. 7 — 12:00 p.m. ET, FS1

Texas may have pulled off the upset over Oklahoma State last week in overtime, but quarterback Sam Ehlinger had very little to do with it. Ehlinger slumped to the second-lowest-graded game of his 2020 season as a passer (63.4), and the Longhorns had their worst game of the season from an EPA per pass standpoint. This week, they face the toughest coverage unit they'll face this season.

West Virginia boasts the best pass defense in the Big 12 and, quite frankly, it's one of the best in the country. They have earned the highest coverage grade in the FBS by a considerable margin — it features the highest-graded slot corner, Tykee Smith, as well as the third-highest-graded outside corner, Dreshun Miller.

The key for the Mountaineers in this one is for quarterback Jarret Doege to get in rhythm — he has been exceptional on such passes, ranking second in the Big 12 and 18th in the FBS in in-rhythm passing grade.

Treash’s prediction: WVU. I just don’t have a lot of confidence in Ehlinger at this point — especially against this defense — to pick Texas.

Seth’s prediction: WVU. Texas is probably not really a 4-2 team; WVU might have started to click.

For our PFF Greenline game preview that includes win and cover probability, click here.


Saturday, Nov. 7 — 12:00 p.m. ET, ACCN

This is a sneaky interesting game in Week 10.

The Liberty Flames are ranked for the first time as an FBS program, as they have yet to lose this season and have busted off six straight Ws. Starting quarterback, former Auburn Tiger Malik Willis, has been doing damage on the ground with his legs — he ranks first among FBS quarterbacks with 21 explosive runs of 10 or more yards and has broken seven more tackles than anyone else in that group, with 27. At the same time, though, Willis ranks second among the same group in fumbles.

Virginia Tech will have to shut down the run in this one, which is something they've struggled to do this season. The Hokies have the fifth-worst run-defense grade in college football and have allowed an explosive run of 10-plus yards on 23% of their snaps, the fourth-worst rate in the nation.

Still, Virginia Tech’s offense might be too much for Liberty to handle. Quarterback Hendon Hooker is the only other player at the position with a higher rushing grade than Willis, and running back Khalil Herbert has also been a big-time breakaway threat who also ranks second at his position in rushing grade.

As a result of this dominance on the ground, The Hokies lead all Power Five schools in EPA per rush play. Then, through the air, Hooker and Virginia Tech have used play-action on 52% of their pass plays — the second-highest in the Power Five — with Hooker compiling the eighth-best grade on play-action plays so far.

Treash’s prediction: Lots of points in this one — Virginia Tech.

Seth’s prediction: VT — picking VT, but this is a legitimately good QB battle between Willis and Hooker.

For our PFF Greenline game preview that includes win and cover probability, click here.


Saturday, Nov. 7 — 2:30 p.m. ET, FS1

The Minutemen are 45-point dogs to the Thundering Herd. Forty-five points.

UMass has played in just one game this year — against Georgia Southern — and they lost 41-0 while finishing in the bottom 10 of that week in both EPA per play generated and EPA per play allowed. Marshall quarterback Grant Wells is bound to have a field day in this one, just like he did in Week 1 against Eastern Kentucky and Week 7 against Louisiana Tech when he posted elite-graded games above 90.0.

Treash’s prediction: Marshall.

Seth’s prediction: Marshall — Grant Wells has been outstanding this season, and UMass is just not good.

For our PFF Greenline game preview that includes win and cover probability, click here.

Sep 26, 2020; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Kyle Trask (11) during the game against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports


Saturday, Nov. 7 — 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

This one will likely decide who the Alabama Crimson Tide will face in the 2020 SEC Championship Game.

Florida’s offense has been right there behind Ohio State and ‘Bama as the best in the Power Five. With their slew of receiving weapons and playcalling, the Gators trail only those two teams in EPA per pass play generated this season in the Power Five. That said, all of their opponents so far have come against coverage units that rank in the bottom half of the SEC in team coverage grade, and Florida will have to go toe-to-toe with one of the best defenses in the country this week against Georgia.

Kyle Trask is bound to be under pressure more than he ever has this season — the Bulldogs have the second-highest pressure rate in the SEC at 35.2%. Overall, including the Alabama game, Georgia ranks first in the SEC in EPA per pass allowed. This Georgia defense is littered with talent from edge rusher Azeez Ojulari to off-ball linebackers Monty Rice and Nakobe Dean to cornerbacks Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell.

It’s going to be a strength vs. strength battle.

Treash’s prediction: This one is truly a toss-up, in my opinion, but I am leaning Georgia.

Seth’s prediction: Florida — the Georgia injuries probably tilt this ever so slightly to UF.

For our PFF Greenline game preview that includes win and cover probability, click here.


Saturday, Nov. 7 — 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Houston’s middling offense —which ranks 55th of 98 qualifying FBS teams in EPA per play generated — will have to go up against a defense that could be considered as one of the best in the country alongside Georgia and Notre Dame.

Tune has been the third-best passer in the AAC when throwing 10 or more yards downfield in terms of passing grade, but he hasn’t quite had to face a coverage unit like Cincinnati’s. The Bearcats have earned the highest team coverage grade in the FBS when defending such targets and have also allowed the lowest passer rating at 29.0 — over 11 points better than any other secondary.

Treash’s prediction: Cincinnati. I think they’ll limit Houston to one touchdown at best, just like they did to Army, USF, SMU and Memphis.

Seth’s prediction: Cincy. Need this team to keep winning for ultimate chaos.

For our PFF Greenline game preview that includes win and cover probability, click here.


Saturday, Nov. 7 — 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler had himself another Heisman-worthy performance in Week 9 against Texas Tech, and he will likely have another one here against this Kansas defense. Rattler came away with the win and a career-high passing grade of 94.7 against the Red Raiders, bringing his season grade to 93.7 — trailing only Zach Wilson of BYU for the best in college football. He has undeniable arm talent and leads the FBS in big-time throws with 20.

The Jayhawks have put together the fourth-worst team coverage grade in the FBS. Then, on the offensive side of the ball, Kansas ranks second-to-last in the FBS in team passing grade. It didn’t seem like they could get much worse than they were last year, but they certainly have.

Treash’s prediction: Oklahoma.

Seth’s prediction: OU. Kansas ain't great.

For our PFF Greenline game preview that includes win and cover probability, click here.


Saturday, Nov. 7 — 4:00 p.m. ET, FOX

Oklahoma State’s College Football Playoff hopes practically died last week as they lost their first game of the year to Texas. The offense had one of their worst outings of the season, recording -0.13 EPA per play — only their opener against Tulsa, in which they had to trot out three different quarterbacks due to injury, had a lower mark. The defensive side of the ball looked as good as usual, though, and is bound to make it difficult for a struggling Kansas State offense to put up points.

The Cowboys rank third in the FBS among teams with 100 dropbacks faced in the successful play percentage allowed (percentage of pass plays that generated positive EPA), while Kansas State’s passing attack ranks third-to-last in that metric. Skylar Thomspon’s replacement, Will Howard, is coming off an extremely poor game against a stout West Virginia defense — he limped to a 52.4 PFF grade for the game and threw an accurate pass on just 33.3% of his attempts beyond the line of scrimmage.

Treash’s prediction: Oklahoma State.

Seth’s prediction: OK State. The Pokes played more than well enough to win against Texas. Sanders finally had a good game. This is a fun game, either way.

For our PFF Greenline game preview that includes win and cover probability, click here.


Saturday, Nov. 7 — 7:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

Mond is coming off the best game of career. Mon finished his Week 9 clash with Arkansas with a W and an astounding 94.6 PFF grade. But leading up to that game, he was one of the worst downfield passers in the SEC.

Mond had notched just one big-time throw and a 57.2 passing grade when throwing over 10 or more yards downfield in the four games before Week 9, both of which ranked dead last in the SEC. In Week 9, Mond had a 96.2 passing grade and four big-time throws on such passes. This Texas A&M team is a dangerous one if Mond can replicate the latter, but can he? It is worth noting that this is something he hasn’t quite done before.

Treash’s prediction: We are going to witness some Mond regression this week, but A&M should still win.

Seth’s prediction: TAMU — playoff Aggies???

For our PFF Greenline game preview that includes win and cover probability, click here.


Saturday, Nov. 7 — 7:00 p.m. ET, FS1

In 2018, both Charlie Brewer and Brock Purdy looked like rising stars in the Big 12, trailing only Kyler Murray and Will Grier as the highest-graded quarterbacks in the conference. Each took steps back in 2019 and even bigger ones this year in 2020 — only Kansas has a lower-graded starting quarterback than Brewer and Purdy.

The good news for the Cyclones is that they have a better defense than the Bears, and that’ll make it more difficult on Brewer than it will Purdy. Iowa State has the third-highest team coverage grade in the conference behind West Virginia and Oklahoma State, and in their last three games, they have ranked second in the conference in EPA per play allowed at -0.19.

Treash’s prediction: Iowa State. This could be an ugly offensive showing.

Seth’s prediction: Iowa State. Baylor has just looked awful. I think Iowa State has just more game-changers.

For our PFF Greenline game preview that includes win and cover probability, click here.

Oct 31, 2020; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei (5) returns the ball to a referee after a 30-yard run for a touchdown against the Boston College Eagles during the third quarter at Memorial Stadium. Credit: Josh Morgan-USA TODAY Sports


Saturday, Nov. 7 — 7:30 p.m. ET, NBC

This game carries big implications — if Clemson wins, Notre Dame’s CFP hopes are all but dead. But if Notre Dame beats Clemson, how much does the CFP committee value the win with no Trevor Lawrence?

The hope of the Irish hinges on the play of quarterback Ian Book. The fifth-year senior has the best offensive line in the FBS blocking for him, yet he has not been able to take advantage of the unit, as he has struggled to a 62.4 clean-pocket passing grade, 85th of 97 qualifying quarterbacks. Book hasn’t been able to do much downfield, either, lowering his grade rank to the eighth-worst when throwing over 10 yards downfield.

Clemson’s coverage unit didn’t have its best day last week against Phil Jurkovec and Boston College, yet they still rank second in the ACC in both coverage grade and EPA per pass allowed because they were that dominant in the weeks leading up to it. Considering they are facing a lesser quarterback who isn’t nearly as effective downfield, this could be a bounce-back game for the Tigers’ D.

Filling in for Lawrence once again is true freshman D.J. Uiagalelei, who performed fairly well in his first career start. He may not have been on Lawrence-like levels, but the former five-star earned an 83.0 passing grade for the game, ranking 19th of 91 FBS quarterbacks in Week 9.

He’ll have to face a far tougher defense this week, however. The Irish rank first in the ACC in both coverage grade and EPA per pass allowed. There is an argument to be made that the Notre Dame defense can rival Georgia's as the best in the FBS.

Treash’s prediction: Clemson, and I am expecting minimal points scored.

Seth’s prediction: Clemson. Not gonna pick Notre Dame in a huge game like this until I see them do it with my own eyeballs.

For our PFF Greenline game preview that includes win and cover probability, click here.


Saturday, Nov. 7 — 7:30 p.m. ET, BTN

Ohio State’s offense has been as vigorous as anticipated through two games. Fields — who has been nearly perfect — has put up the second-best passing grade over the last couple of weeks at 92.1 and has thrown just two uncatchable passes. That forms an uncatchable-pass rate of 3.8%, the best in the FBS in that span by over 3 percentage points.

Fields has perhaps the best wide receiver duo in college football (now that Jaylen Waddle is out) at his disposal with Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson, who rank third and second in the Big Ten, respectively, in yards per route run. The two are each route technicians who are among the best in the country against single coverage, and they will see plenty of it against the Scarlet Knights.

The key thing to watch in this one is whether or not we see a bounce-back game from cornerback Shaun Wade. He entered the year with a lot of attention from the draft community as he transitioned from the slot to the outside, and last week he got burnt by Penn State’s Jahan Dotson for six catches, 119 yards and two touchdowns. He can’t afford to have another performance like that one.

Treash’s prediction: Ohio State.

Seth’s prediction: OSU.

For our PFF Greenline game preview that includes win and cover probability, click here.


Saturday, Nov. 7 — 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Oregon's three best players — tackle Penei Sewell, safety Jevon Holland and cornerback Thomas Graham Jr — decided to opt-out of the 2020 season. The good news is that the secondary will still be good despite losing Holland and Graham, but the bad news is that the offensive line might be a bit rough for first-year starting quarterback Tyler Shough, as they will now have a new starter at every single spot along the line.

True sophomores Mykael Wright and Kayvon Thibodeaux are bound for huge breakout years after shining in their first season at the collegiate level in 2019. Wright played just 187 snaps at corner last season, but he looked like a star in the making. He saw 23 targets in coverage, allowed just eight to be caught while intercepting one and breaking up another three. As for Thibodeaux, he had an increased workload compared to Wright and was one of the top pass-rushers in the Pac-12. He has a ridiculous get-off, and after putting up a 92.2 pass-rush grade in how fifth career game, Thibodeaux went on to be the highest-graded pass-rusher in the conference.

Stanford was already not looking so hot entering the year, then they lost two of their best players — cornerback Paulson Adebo and tackle Walker Little — to opt-outs.

One player to keep an eye on is Simi Fehoko. He emerged in the second half of his true sophomore year, earning a 76.3 receiving grade from Week 6 on, fifth in the Pac-12. Fehoko is a deep weapon with an imposing 6-foot-4 frame and impressive athleticism — 57% of his targets came on passes thrown at least 20 yards downfield in 2019, the highest rate in the FBS.

Treash’s prediction: Oregon. Despite the lost talent, that defense is loaded.

Seth’s prediction: Oregon — Tyler Shough for Heisman.

For our PFF Greenline game preview that includes win and cover probability, click here.


Saturday, Nov. 7 — 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPNU

One of the hottest teams in the country is none other than the 6-0 Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. They have constructed the most efficient passing attack in the FBS among teams with at least 100 dropbacks this year— and it’s not even close.

Quarterback Grayson McCall has been nothing short of remarkable tossing the rock — he’s put together a 93.1 passing grade in five starts, trailing only Zach Wilson for the best among non-Power Five quarterbacks. From the talent they have to the scheme itself, this offense has been outstanding and rolling over every team they have faced. Granted, it has been a difficult set of defenses faced, and that won’t be much different this week against South Alabama, as the Jaguars have struggled against any somewhat decent quarterback they have faced.

Treash’s prediction: Coastal, but I’m not their No. 1 fan like Seth.

Seth’s prediction: CCU — LET'S GO CHANTS.

For our PFF Greenline game preview that includes win and cover probability, click here.

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