When it comes to the national championship picture, Week 10 may be the most important of the 2012 season.
The nation's five best teams are in action, four of which play ranked teams and two of which play each other. That means while the Notre Dame Fighting Irish will ostensibly get a bye week against the Pittsburgh Panthers, the remaining teams will be playing in hard-fought, game-of-the-week-level contests.
For those squads, the days leading up to Saturday will be nerve-wracking. For college football fans, they will only serve to make our thirst for top-notch college football even more insatiable than it already is.
With all that in mind, which teams will come out on top in these great games? Here is a look at our predictions for each of Week 10's biggest games.
No. 4 Oregon Ducks at No. 17 USC Trojans
At this juncture, even winning the rest of their games may leave Oregon out in the cold in the chase for the BCS championship.
Stuck behind the Kansas State Wildcats and Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the polls, this Saturday's game against the Trojans could not have come at a better time.
The Ducks need a massive strength of schedule boost, and three of their last four games will come against Top 25 teams, starting this week.
Though unbelievably talented, USC is also one of 2012's biggest disappointments, and comes into Week 10 reeling after a 39-36 loss to Arizona, its second inexplicable loss of the season. The Wildcats torched the Trojan defense, leaving it helpless as quarterback Matt Scott combined for 469 yards and four total touchdowns.
Luckily for Oregon, the team has its own dual-threat quarterback in Marcus Mariota, who should have a banner game on Saturday. Look for the Ducks to win and to continue their habit of winning big.
Score Prediction: Oregon 52, USC 31
No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide at No. 5 LSU Tigers
Spoiler alert: You will not have fun watching this game. Alabama-LSU will unquestionably be Saturday's most hyped game, but it won't be the prettiest or most entertaining.
However, to steal a phrase from every talking head ever, that's just the way both of these teams want it.
Neither the Tide nor the Tigers want this game to turn into a shootout, as they boast two of the 10 best scoring defenses in college football. Additionally, both sides know each other's scheme so well that it's almost inevitable that the first team to 20 points comes away victorious.
If that's the case and recent history is any indicator, it's almost impossible to pick against the Tide on Saturday. They come into Week 10 having scored no fewer than 33 points in a game this season and haven't allowed more than 14.
Meanwhile, to say the LSU offense is a work in progress is the understatement of the century. Quarterback Zach Mettenberger went a meager 11-of-29 passing for 97 yards last week against Texas A&M, and while the Aggies have a strong defense, it's nowhere near the level of Alabama's.
Saturday will come with the requisite hype of last season's epic regular-season contest, but won't end with the same result. Look for Alabama to win by a relatively wide margin.
Score Prediction: Alabama 21, LSU 7
No. 24 Oklahoma State Cowboys at No. 2 Kansas State Wildcats
Not expected to make much of a fuss in the Big 12 this season, Kansas State now has an inside track to the BCS National Championship Game.
Including this week, the Wildcats have just two games against Top 25 opponents remaining on their schedule—and the other is against a Texas team that almost lost to Kansas last week.
That means Saturday is the most important game of the season for Collin Klein and the Kansas State attack. Luckily, the Cowboys' defense has struggled mightily in 2012 against dual-threat elite quarterbacks and shouldn't present much of a challenge.
Had J.W. Walsh not suffered a season-ending injury, I would be tempted to pick the Cowboys to make an upset in a shootout. But with Wes Lunt at quarterback, it seems unlikely that Oklahoma State can keep up with Klein and his high-powered attack.
The Wildcats will continue their storybook season, and Klein will continue etching his name on the Heisman Trophy.
Score Prediction: Kansas State 38, Oklahoma State 20