College Football Week 10 Preview: Storylines, matchups and predictions for the five biggest games

2T4BKKM Palo Alto, USA. 28th Oct, 2023. Washington Huskies quarterback Michael Penix Jr. (9) looks to the sideline during a college football regular season game against the Stanford Cardinal, Saturday, October 28, 2023, at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, CA (Brandon Sloter/Image of Sport) Photo via Credit: Newscom/Alamy Live News

• No. 12 Missouri-No. 2 Georgia: The defending back-to-back champs will try to reclaim their No. 1 ranking in their toughest test of the season.

• No. 14 LSU-No. 8 Alabama: The Crimson Tide’s elite defense will look to slow down Jayden Daniels and the best offense in college football.

• No. 5 Washington-No. 20 USC: Expect a shootout between Caleb Williams, last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, and Michael Penix Jr., potentially this year’s winner.

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes


Cancel your Saturday plans.

There are five games between ranked opponents in Week 10, and each features at least one College Football Playoff contender.

Here are the storylines to know, matchups to watch and predictions for those five massive showdowns.


NO. 23 KANSAS STATE WILDCATS AT NO. 7 TEXAS LONGHORNS (12 P.M. EST ON FOX)

Storyline to know: Will Texas be without Quinn Ewers again?

Texas starting quarterback Quinn Ewers suffered a Grade 2 AC joint sprain to his throwing shoulder in a win over Houston a couple of weeks ago. ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported at the time that Ewers was expected to miss 2-4 weeks with the injury, meaning there’s a slight chance he can suit up against Kansas State.

However, it’s most likely that Maalik Murphy will make his second career start for the Longhorns. The redshirt freshman had an up-and-down performance in a win over BYU last week, posting a 60.9 passing grade with three big-time throws and two turnover-worthy plays. He can’t afford to have another rollercoaster performance against a much better Kansas State team.

Matchup to watch: Can Kansas State stop Jonathon Brooks?

Texas can lessen the pressure on Murphy through superstar running back Jonathon Brooks. The redshirt sophomore is currently the top running back prospect on PFF's 2024 NFL Draft big board and paces the Power Five with 58 forced missed tackles this season.

The Wildcats, meanwhile, place just 97th nationally in run-defense grade (70.2), allowing the ninth-most yards per attempt in the Power Five (5.03). Kansas State needs to focus its defensive attention on Brooks and put the game in Murphy’s inexperienced hands.

Prediction: Texas 28, Kansas State 23

The Longhorns ride Brooks to victory and keep their playoff hopes alive.


NO. 12 MISSOURI TIGERS AT NO. 2 GEORGIA BULLDOGS (3:30 P.M. EST ON CBS)

Storyline to know: Time for Georgia to reclaim No. 1

The sole reason for the defending back-to-back champions not topping the initial College Football Playoff rankings is that their resume doesn’t stack up as well as Ohio State’s. None of Georgia's eight victories have come against a current top-30 team in PFF’s power rankings.

The Bulldogs have an opportunity to take back the “No. 1” next to its name over the next three weeks, as they face No. 12 Missouri, No. 10 Ole Miss and No. 17 Tennessee. Making matters even more difficult for Georgia that star tight end Brock Bowers could miss all three of those games with an ankle injury.

Matchup to watch: Missouri’s passing attack vs. Georgia’s secondary

While Georgia will be without its top pass-catcher in this matchup, Missouri will need its star receiver to step up. Luther Burden III leads all Power Five wide receivers with 3.92 yards per route run and 525 yards after the catch this season. His quarterback, Brady Cook, is tied for third among all signal-callers with 20 big-time throws this season. He’s aided by a Missouri offensive line that has allowed the 10th-lowest pressure rate in the Power Five this season (15.1%).

While Georgia’s defense places only 82nd in the nation in pressure rate (29.4%), the Bulldogs’ secondary remains one of the best in college football. Georgia has allowed just 4.54 yards per coverage snap, ranking third among all teams in college football. The star of that unit is sophomore Malaki Starks, the only safety in the country to place inside the top 15 for both coverage grade and run-defense grade.

Prediction: Georgia 34, Missouri 24

The Bulldogs beat the Tigers and create a compelling case for why they deserve to, once again, be the top-ranked team in America.


NO. 9 OKLAHOMA SOONERS AT NO. 22 OKLAHOMA STATE COWBOYS (3:30 P.M. EST ON ABC)

Storyline to know: The final Bedlam game for the foreseeable future

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have met every season for the past 113 years, tied for the second-longest uninterrupted rivalry in FBS history.

Longest Uninterrupted Rivalries in FBS History
Game Continuous Since…
Wisconsin-Minnesota 1907
Oklahoma-Oklahoma State 1910
N.C. State-Wake Forest 1910

However, this year’s version of Bedlam will be the final duel for a potentially long time, as the Sooners depart the Big 12 for the SEC following the 2023 season. The rivalry is sure to go out with a bang, though, as both teams are ranked and Oklahoma’s playoff dreams would be crushed with another loss.

Matchup to watch: Can Ollie Gordon II carry the Cowboys to victory?

Ollie Gordon II is on fire. The true sophomore leads the nation with 1,087 rushing yards despite receiving just 19 total carries in the first three games of the season. He has rushed for 978 yards in the five games since, including a ridiculous 553 over the past two weeks. Gordon should be seen as the favorite for the Doak Walker Award right now, given to the best running back in the country.

Leading Power Five Rushers Over Past Two Weeks
Name Yards
Ollie Gordon II 553
Ollie Gordon II after contact 315
Kyle Robichaux 277

He likely won’t be able to run wild on Oklahoma, though, as the Sooners’ 90.1 run-defense grade ranks eighth in the Power Five. Oklahoma also leads the nation with 76 tackles for loss no gain this season.

Prediction: Oklahoma 33, Oklahoma State 27

Oklahoma slows down Gordon just enough to keep its College Football Playoff aspirations from flatlining.


NO. 5 WASHINGTON HUSKIES AT NO. 20 USC TROJANS (7:30 P.M. EST ON ABC)

Storyline to know: Two teams that are playing with fire

Both Washington and USC have been involved in several close finishes this season. After winning their first four games by an average of 32.8 points, the Huskies have won their past four by just a 6.8-point average. Washington beat Arizona State and Stanford, its most recent opponents, by a combined 17 points despite being favored by a combined 55.5 points.

While Washington remains unscathed, USC has been burned a couple of times already. Four of the Trojans’ past five contests have been one-possession games — the outlier being when Notre Dame destroyed USC, 48-20.

While USC likely isn’t fighting for a playoff spot, as Washington currently is, the Trojans’ hopes for a Pac-12 championship are still alive since only one of their two losses was in-conference.

Matchup to watch: Last year’s Heisman winner versus this year’s?

If you enjoy points, tune in to this game. The over/under is currently set at 76, the highest of all FBS games this weekend. While some of that is because Washington's and USC’s defenses place just 73rd and 83rd, respectively, in expected points allowed per play, it’s also because of the two likely first-round quarterbacks set to face off.

Caleb Williams is likely going first overall, and his 93.3 grade since entering college in 2021 is tied with Bryce Young for the highest among FBS quarterbacks. His 2,660 passing yards this season trails only Michael Penix Jr.’s 2,950 yards. Penix also leads the nation with a 91.4 passing grade in 2023.

Prediction: USC 38, Washington 35

In a game that could come down to whichever quarterback has the ball last, USC squeaks by and gets its season back on track.


NO. 14 LSU TIGERS AT NO. 8 ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE (7:45 P.M. EST ON CBS)

Storyline to know: Will it be déjà vu?

Alabama sported a 7-1 record entering last year’s Week 10 matchup with LSU, which carried a 6-2 record. The Tigers effectively ended the Crimson Tide’s College Football Playoff chances with a thrilling 32-31 overtime victory. LSU also seized control of the SEC West while Alabama and Ole Miss trailed closely behind with the same conference record.

The two meet again in Week 10 this season in nearly identical circumstances. LSU likely can’t make the playoff at 6-1, but the team can again essentially eliminate the Crimson Tide, who are 7-1. If LSU wins, a chaotic three-way tie would ensue atop the SEC West between them, Alabama and Ole Miss. The Rebels beat the Tigers but lost to the Crimson Tide and would have the same conference record if they take down Texas A&M on Saturday.

Matchup to watch: LSU’s passing attack vs. Alabama’s defense

The must-see matchup of possibly the entire season is the nation’s most electric passing offense against the best secondary in the country.

LSU ranks second in the nation in expected points added per pass this season, trailing only Michigan, a team that has played a much easier schedule. Jayden Daniels’ 92.3 grade this season is tied with J.J. McCarthy for the highest among FBS quarterbacks. His top target, Malik Nabers, leads all wide receivers with a 92.0 grade and 981 receiving yards. LSU No. 2 receiver Brian Thomas Jr. has 11 touchdown catches — tied for the most in the nation. If Daniels beats Alabama again, he’ll become the clear frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy.

 

That won’t be easy, though, as Alabama paces the FBS with a 93.0 coverage grade this season. Three Crimson Tide defensive backs have 80.0-plus grades this season: safety Caleb Downs and cornerbacks Kool-Aid McKinstry and Terrion Arnold. No other school has more than two. Alabama also boasts one of the nation’s best edge duos. Dallas Turner ranks sixth among Power Five edge defenders with a 21.9% pressure rate this season, while Chris Braswell is tied for third with nine sacks.

Prediction: Alabama 31, LSU 30

The Crimson Tide exact revenge on the Tigers and stave off playoff elimination.

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