Winning a game on the road in college football is tough enough, but that's even more true when two teams are evenly matched.
In one of the more anticipated rivalry games this season, the Michigan Wolverines will hit the road to take on the Michigan State Spartans Saturday in what could be a game that has major implications for the Big Ten championship game down the road.
After a disappointing loss to West Virginia late in September, the Oklahoma State Cowboys have won three games in a row and will look to continue their push on the road against a Texas Tech Red Raiders squad is coming off a loss to Oklahoma.
The Wisconsin Badgers have righted their ship after losing to Ohio State in late September, having since won two games in a row by a combined score of 91-38. Granted, their last win was against a lowly Illinois team, but that gives the Badgers some momentum going into their matchup with the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Let's break down all three of these games to find out why each of the road teams will escape with a win.
Week 10 CFB Picks for Top 25 Teams
|No. 4 Ohio State||Purdue||Ohio St.|
|No. 17 Northern Illinois||Massachusetts||Northern Illinois|
|No. 24 Wisconsin||Iowa||Wisconsin|
|Mississippi St.||No. 14 South Carolina||South Carolina|
|No. 8 Clemson||Virginia||Clemson|
|No. 21 Michigan||No. 22 Michigan St.||Michigan|
|Navy||No. 25 Notre Dame||Notre Dame|
|No. 11 Auburn||Arkansas||Auburn|
|No. 18 Oklahoma St.||No. 15 Texas Tech||Oklahoma St.|
|Colorado||No. 20 UCLA||UCLA|
|No. 7 Miami (FL)||No. 3 Florida St.||Florida St.|
|UTEP||No. 12 Texas A&M||Texas A&M|
|Nevada||No. 16 Fresno St.||Fresno St.|
No. 21 Michigan at No. 22 Michigan State
This will be a game between two teams that are polar opposites of each other. On one side, you have the Wolverines, who can play offense and put points on the board. On the other side, the Spartans are a squad who can play great defense, but can't do much offensively.
The biggest key for Michigan will be in stopping a tough Michigan State defense from abusing its offensive line. Also, in years past, the Spartans have manhandled the Wolverines and have proven to be the tougher team.
If Michigan can match Michigan State's toughness, it'll be a huge hurdle overcome by head coach Brady Hoke's squad.
When given time to throw the ball, Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner can make plays with his arm and legs while running back Fitzgerald Toussaint's production on the ground is key to keeping the Spartans honest on defense.
Spartans quarterback Connor Cook has done a good in job taking care of the ball with just two picks this season and he must do the same on Saturday. He can't afford to give Michigan a short field and make it easier for the Wolverines to score points because Michigan State simply can't score enough to get into a shootout.
In what will be the biggest game of his career, Cook must overcome the inconsistency he has fought this season, but it remains to be seen if he can do so. It won't be pretty, but the Wolverines have the edge in experience where it matters and should pull out a tight win on the road.
Final Score: Michigan 17, Michigan State 14
No. 18 Oklahoma State at No. 15 Texas Tech
The Red Raiders will get their second-biggest challenge of the season when they welcome the Cowboys to town on Saturday.
In their last big test, the Red Raiders failed miserably, allowing the Oklahoma Sooners to drop 38 points on them and expose a major flaw in Texas Tech's defense.
The Cowboys will do much of the same. Oklahoma State owns the 23rd-best scoring offense in the nation and is coming off a 58-27 romp over Iowa State. Led by quarterback J.W. Walsh and running back Desmond Roland, the Cowboys sport a versatile offense that can beat teams in many ways.
Texas Tech can't say the same. Its passing attack, led by quarterback Davis Webb, ranks No. 3 in college football, but the Red Raiders' ground game is 106th. That kind of imbalance will prove to be a disaster, as the Cowboys' stingy defense (ranked 19th in points allowed) can cheat against the pass because it quite simply doesn't have to respect the run.
That should lead to more mistakes from Webb, who has thrown seven picks in seven games this season. In one of those games, Webb only threw four times and in another, six times, so it's actually seven picks in five full games for the freshman.
Interceptions for Webb are inevitable, especially against his Week 10 opponent. Oklahoma State will take advantage of those extra possessions and abuse the Red Raiders' defense en route to the victory.
Final Score: Oklahoma State 34, Texas Tech 20
No. 24 Wisconsin at Iowa
Wisconsin must win this game if it hopes to stay ranked going into Week 11, but Iowa won't be a pushover by any means.
Iowa sports the 12th-ranked defense in the nation for points allowed and has been effective in both the pass and run, ranking No. 86 and No. 47, respectively. Iowa's defense hasn't faced many tough opponents, however, as the only ranked team that the Hawkeyes have played was Ohio State in a game where Iowa allowed 34 points.
In fact, Iowa allowed 26 points in a losing effort to Michigan State's shaky offense.
Wisconsin owns one of college football's premier rushing attacks, ranking eighth in the nation. Besides running backs Melvin Gordon and James White, quarterback Joel Stave and wide receiver Jared Abbrederis have been a great complement to the Badgers' stellar ground game.
All of these weapons spell trouble for an Iowa defense that has proven to have issues with more talented squads, and even less talented ones.
Not to mention that the Badgers are allowing the sixth-fewest points per game in the country to go along with an offense that ranks 17th in points per contest. That's a combination that the Hawkeyes will be unable to keep up with on Saturday.
Final Score: Wisconsin 30, Iowa 13