College Football Picks: Week 10 Predictions for Every Game
The SEC will take center stage in Week 10 when No. 1 Alabama travels to No. 4 LSU and No. 11 Kentucky hosts No. 6 Georgia.
After those contests, two more programs could be eliminated from the College Football Playoff discussion. Throw in two other clashes between ranked teams and the season-long trend of major upsets, and the list of contenders will likely get even thinner.
This should be an exciting week.
We've provided a brief breakdown and prediction for every game on the slate that involves a Football Bowl Subdivision team.
Note: AP Top 25 teams are highlighted first within a specific time slot.
Northern Illinois (5-3) at Akron (4-3), 7 p.m. ET
In a game between two of the MAC's lowest-scoring teams, defensive efficiency should be the deciding factor. Northern Illinois defeated BYU last week 7-6. How's that for execution? It won't be pretty, but the Huskies will escape with a win.
Prediction: Northern Illinois 20, Akron 13
Ohio (5-3) at Western Michigan (6-3), 7 p.m. ET
Western Michigan will be without quarterback Jon Wassink, who's scheduled to undergo surgery on his right foot. And after the Broncos defense surrendered 51 points to Toledo, an Ohio offense that has started to match its preseason expectations will thrive in Kalamazoo.
Prediction: Ohio 45, Western Michigan 28
Temple (5-3) at No. 9 Central Florida (7-0), 7:30 p.m. ET
This would be a classic trap game for UCF if Temple hosted the matchup. However, the Knights are stellar at home, winning eight straight games over unranked teams by at least 20 points each. That remarkable trend will end because of Temple's outstanding defense, but not in a loss.
Prediction: UCF 34, Temple 20
Pitt (4-4) at No. 23 Virginia (6-2), 7:30 p.m. ET
This is a vital game for Bronco Mendenhall's team, which could improve to 5-1 in ACC action and move one stunning step closer to a Coastal Division crown. Pitt is always good for a weird upset, but Virginia's defense should win the day.
Prediction: Virginia 35, Pitt 20
Western Kentucky (1-7) at Middle Tennessee (5-3), 8 p.m. ET
For the first time against an FBS opponent in 2018, Middle Tennessee dominated on offense. The Blue Raiders torched Old Dominion for 51 points last week, and they're likely headed toward a similar day opposite Western Kentucky. The Hilltoppers rank 89th in scoring defense.
Prediction: Middle Tennessee 42, Western Kentucky 17
Colorado (5-3) at Arizona (4-5), 10:30 p.m. ET
Three straight losses have dropped Colorado from the national conversation. Last week, the Buffs squandered a 28-point lead and lost to Oregon State in overtime. The timing is poor for Colorado to face a seemingly (finally) healthy Khalil Tate in Tucson, Arizona.
Prediction: Arizona 38, Colorado 30
Top Saturday Early Games
Louisville (2-6) at No. 2 Clemson (8-0), Noon ET
Clemson is a 37.5-point favorite, per OddsShark, and that's not the least bit surprising. Louisville's ineffective offense won't do much against the Tigers, who will improve to 5-0 in the all-time series.
Prediction: Clemson 48, Louisville 10
Nebraska (2-6) at No. 8 Ohio State (7-1), Noon ET
Head coach Scott Frost's offense is steadily improving behind quarterback Adrian Martinez. The gloom of Nebraska's 0-6 start is basically in the past. However, the Huskers still haven't shown they can hang with a competent scoring attack—and Ohio State is the best one they'll have seen.
Prediction: Ohio State 49, Nebraska 28
No. 22 Syracuse (6-2) at Wake Forest (4-4), Noon ET
Winston-Salem, North Carolina, should host a scoreboard-breaker, considering Syracuse and Wake Forest have combined for seven 50-point outbursts this season. We're leaning away from Wake's dreadful pass defense, but the opposite result wouldn't be surprising in the least.
Prediction: Syracuse 52, Wake Forest 42
No. 25 Texas A&M (5-3) at Auburn (5-3), Noon ET
After three straight one-possession wins, Texas A&M dropped its Week 9 clash at Mississippi State. A third straight road contest will be challenging for the Aggies, but Auburn's surge against Ole Miss feels more like a product of a horrible Rebels defense than Auburn figuring out its struggles.
Prediction: Texas A&M 24, Auburn 20
Oklahoma State (5-3) at Baylor (4-4), Noon ET
Which offense will show up for Oklahoma State? There's the version that combined for 29 points in losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State, and the excellent unit that put 38 points on Texas last week. Here's a guess toward the latter because of Baylor's 94th-ranked defense, but OSU has proved us wrong before.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 41, Baylor 31
Michigan State (5-3) at Maryland (5-3), Noon ET
Maryland has averaged 7.3 yards per rush and 44.8 carries in wins compared to 3.8 and 30.3, respectively, in losses. Michigan State has surrendered the seventh-lowest per-carry clip in the nation. Unless Maryland pulls a surprise and runs effectively, the Spartans will win.
Prediction: Michigan State 35, Maryland 17
Iowa State (4-3) at Kansas (3-5), Noon ET
Every win for Kansas is important. However, last week's victory over TCU wasn't the start of a mini streak for the Jayhawks. Iowa State has ceded just 4.8 yards per snap, and the Cyclones shouldn't be in danger of losing unless they commit several turnovers.
Prediction: Iowa State 38, Kansas 21
Air Force (3-5) at Army (6-2), Noon ET
The second leg in the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy chase features two terrific run defenses and mediocre coverage units. This should be a 60-minute fight, but Army holds the edge thanks to a home-field advantage and a healthy Kelvin Hopkins Jr. under center.
Prediction: Army 27, Air Force 20
Other Saturday Early Games
Memphis (4-4) at East Carolina (2-5), Noon ET
East Carolina has mustered just 36 points during a three-game losing streak in which its opponent has scored 37-plus points in every contest. Memphis hasn't played much defense lately either, but quarterback Brady White should thrive against an ECU defense that has only two interceptions compared to 14 touchdowns allowed.
Prediction: Memphis 42, East Carolina 24
Rutgers (1-7) at Wisconsin (5-3), Noon ET
Wisconsin fell to Northwestern in quarterback Alex Hornibrook's absence (concussion), but the Badgers figure to have little trouble with Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights have surrendered 5.5 yards per carry, so a bounce-back performance for star runner Jonathan Taylor (46 yards last week) is likely.
Prediction: Wisconsin 31, Rutgers 10
South Carolina (4-3) at Ole Miss (5-3), Noon ET
Excluding the win over FCS school Southern Illinois, Ole Miss is 4-0 against defenses ranked 80th or worse nationally and 0-3 against top-35 units. At No. 55, South Carolina is an untested middle ground. But we're dubious about Ole Miss opposite a competent opponent—especially one that just averaged 6.7 yards per snap.
Prediction: South Carolina 31, Ole Miss 27
Central Michigan (1-8) at Eastern Michigan (4-5), Noon ET
Another week, another horrid showing from Central Michigan's offense. The Chippewas rank 128th nationally at 16.3 points per game. Eastern Michigan is prone to tight fourth quarters, but the Eagles should pull away earlier Saturday.
Prediction: Eastern Michigan 28, Central Michigan 13
Georgia Tech (4-4) at North Carolina (1-6), 12:15 p.m. ET
The triple-option attack has ripped apart UNC in recent years, and this Tar Heels defense isn't any better. Georgia Tech, meanwhile, has scored 49-plus points in three of its last four games. Head coach Paul Johnson's club should cruise on the road.
Prediction: Georgia Tech 42, North Carolina 27
Texas State (2-6) at Georgia State (2-6), 2 p.m. ET
Georgia State's offense has scored 34-plus points in consecutive weeks, but it's a mark six opponents have reached, too. If a typically quiet Texas State offense can take advantage, they have a chance. Give us the Panthers at home, though.
Prediction: Georgia State 34, Texas State 27
San Jose State (1-7) at Wyoming (3-6), 2 p.m. ET
A 50-point explosion helped San Jose State get into the win column. Wyoming scored 34 points to dispatch Colorado State. Both programs defied season trends last week, but we're hopping on the Sean Chambers bandwagon after the Wyoming quarterback collected 217 total yards and accounted for three scores in his starting debut.
Prediction: Wyoming 31, San Jose State 26
South Alabama (2-6) at Arkansas State (4-4), 3 p.m. ET
All seven of its FBS opponents have scored at least 30 points on South Alabama, which has mustered just 17 points per game on the road. Even with a struggling defense, Arkansas State shouldn't have much trouble knocking off the Jaguars.
Prediction: Arkansas State 41, South Alabama 24
Georgia Southern (7-1) at UL Monroe (4-4), 3 p.m. ET
After defeating Appalachian State, Georgia Southern has set up a likely winner-take-all showdown with Troy next week for Sun Belt supremacy. GSU must be careful not to overlook the Warhawks, but a shoddy defense won't be able to handle the Eagles' No. 4 rushing attack for 60 minutes.
Prediction: Georgia Southern 34, UL Monroe 24
Marshall (5-2) at Southern Miss (3-4), 3 p.m. ET
Marshall's three best rushing outputs of the season have happened since Alex Thomson took over at quarterback on Oct. 5. That's not a coincidence. Southern Miss has a decent run-stopping group at No. 26 overall, but Marshall should stay balanced for a road victory.
Prediction: Marshall 27, Southern Miss 22
Top Saturday Afternoon Games
No. 6 Georgia (7-1) at No. 11 Kentucky (7-1), 3:30 p.m. ET
Kentucky's defense has been excellent this year. Georgia, though, will be the unit's biggest test, and quarterback Jake Fromm recovered from his horrid outing at LSU with 10.0 yards per attempt and three touchdown passes to defeat Florida. Another efficient day will help the Dawgs topple UK and clinch the SEC East crown.
Prediction: Georgia 26, Kentucky 21
No. 12 West Virginia (6-1) at No. 15 Texas (6-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
Since this Big 12 showdown is a matchup of comparable defenses, the quarterbacks will likely decide the outcome. Though Texas signal-caller Sam Ehlinger is dealing with a right shoulder sprain, WVU QB Will Grier is liable to throw a couple of high-risk passes every game. Those mistakes will outweigh his production in Austin.
Prediction: Texas 34, West Virginia 31
No. 19 Iowa (6-2) at Purdue (4-4), 3:30 p.m. ET
Purdue came crashing down in Week 9, losing to Michigan State 23-13 only seven days after it obliterated Ohio State, 49-20. Iowa won't allow the Boilermakers easy yards, but Purdue's advantage in red-zone efficiency will atone for an uneven day on offense.
Prediction: Purdue 24, Iowa 19
No. 14 Penn State (6-2) at No. 5 Michigan (7-1), 3:45 p.m. ET
Explosive plays will likely be at a premium for both offenses. However, four straight games below seven yards per snap is highly concerning for Penn State, particularly because Michigan is almost impossible to run the ball against. The Wolverines will win a low-scoring slugfest.
Prediction: Michigan 23, Penn State 16
No. 24 Boston College (6-2) at Virginia Tech (4-3), 3:45 p.m. ET
Boston College used a whole lot of misdirection and power running to frustrate Miami during a 27-14 win last week. Virginia Tech will do more than throw slants and bubble screens to attack BC's defense—imagine that, Mark Richt!—but an uncharacteristically mediocre run defense (No. 78 overall) will be the Hokies' undoing once again.
Prediction: Boston College 31, Virginia Tech 24
Missouri (4-4) at No. 13 Florida (6-2), 4 p.m. ET
Missouri was unlucky to lose on an untimed play against Kentucky, but it was the continuation of a troubling trend for quarterback Drew Lock. He's averaged just 5.3 yards per throw against SEC competition, and Florida's poor day against Fromm was likely an outlier.
Prediction: Florida 27, Missouri 20
No. 16 Utah (6-2) at Arizona State (4-4), 4 p.m. ET
Utah has reached the 40-point plateau in four straight games and surrendered just 17.3 during that stretch. Barring a surprise surge from Arizona State, which has struggled mightily recently, the Utes will record their fifth consecutive win.
Prediction: Utah 31, Arizona State 24
Other Saturday Afternoon Games
Florida State (4-4) at NC State (5-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
Florida State needed a rescheduled game to continue its bowl streak last year. It'll probably end at 36 unless the Seminoles win at NC State. Although the Wolfpack's defense has been shaky lately, the front seven should generate enough pressure to contain FSU.
Prediction: NC State 27, Florida State 23
Navy (2-6) at Cincinnati (7-1), 3:30 p.m. ET
The switch from Malcolm Perry to Garret Lewis at quarterback has gone OK, but Navy's defense is still a disaster. Cincinnati will ride the running game to hold off the Midshipmen, who've surrendered 5.2 yards per carry this season.
Prediction: Cincinnati 34, Navy 21
Tulane (3-5) at South Florida (7-1), 3:30 p.m. ET
Although the Green Wave have a respectable run defense at No. 60 overall, each of their four least efficient days happened on the road. If that trend continues as expected, South Florida should also be able to pick apart Tulane's secondary and stave off an upset.
Prediction: South Florida 31, Tulane 24
Louisiana (4-4) at Troy (6-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
Excluding the expected losses to SEC opponents, Louisiana has gotten steady defensive performances. The drastically varying offensive outings are problematic, though, and Troy should provide the sort of resistance that has doomed the Ragin' Cajuns this year.
Prediction: Troy 28, Louisiana 20
Kansas State (3-5) at TCU (3-5), 3:30 p.m. ET
TCU has lost the turnover battle in seven straight games. That's not an automatic way to fall short, but it's a terrific blueprint. Fortunately for the Horned Frogs, K-State isn't an opportunistic team and leans heavily on its running game. That's the strength of TCU's defense.
Prediction: TCU 23, Kansas State 17
Minnesota (4-4) at Illinois (3-5), 3:30 p.m. ET
Throw out the win over Rutgers, and the Illini have ceded 46-plus points in four straight games. Minnesota has encountered its fair share of defensive issues, but the Gophers have totaled 15 red-zone opportunities in the last three contests. Converting those at a higher clip could result in a blowout win for Minnesota.
Prediction: Minnesota 42, Illinois 27
UTEP (0-8) at Rice (1-8), 3:30 p.m. ET
In the battle to avoid the Conference USA basement, two sluggish offenses will try to capitalize on shoddy defenses. UTEP's quarterback carousel is most concerning, though, and the Miners will whiff on a prime chance for a win in 2018.
Prediction: Rice 22, UTEP 21
Liberty (4-3) at UMass (3-6), 3:30 p.m. ET
During its last four outings, Liberty has topped the 40-point mark three times en route to a 3-1 record. UMass could take advantage of a weak defense, though that's contingent on the offense's red-zone success. The 20 percent touchdown rate over the last two weeks is unacceptable, but it should change Saturday.
Prediction: UMass 41, Liberty 35
Charlotte (4-4) at Tennessee (3-5), 4 p.m. ET
Both offenses are no better than average relative to their normal competition. Still, Tennessee has a distinct talent edge, so Charlotte must win the turnover battle to have a chance. Outside a horrid day against Florida, however, Tennessee has just four giveaways this season.
Prediction: Tennessee 34, Charlotte 17
Alcorn State (7-2) at New Mexico State (2-7), 4 p.m. ET
New Mexico State ranks 108th nationally in yards allowed per carry. That's a problem for this matchup and Alcorn State's run-first attack. NMSU will fall short unless quarterback Josh Adkins overwhelms the Braves through the air. And that's not guaranteed.
Prediction: Alcorn State 35, New Mexico State 28
Appalachian State (5-2) at Coastal Carolina (5-3), 5 p.m. ET
Last week, Appalachian State's defense truly struggled for the first time all season in a loss to Georgia Southern. Coastal Carolina's running game could similarly frustrate the Mountaineers, but CCU's porous defense—the third-worst in the nation as measured by yards per play—will be a decisive problem.
Prediction: Appalachian State 34, Coastal Carolina 27
Top Saturday Evening Games
No. 17 Houston (7-1) at SMU (3-5), 7 p.m. ET
SMU tends to play tolerable defense at home, so Houston shouldn't be expected to thrash the Mustangs right away. Still, quarterback D'Eriq King is playing on a different level, leading the Cougars to 40-plus points in every game. Houston's hot streak rolls on.
Prediction: Houston 43, SMU 28
No. 3 Notre Dame (8-0) at Northwestern (5-3), 7:15 p.m. ET
For better or worse, Clayton Thorson will be the difference. Northwestern's quarterback must have a near-perfect day to derail the Irish, who figure to silence a 127th-ranked NU running game. The Wildcats should keep it a low-scoring affair, but Thorson's propensity for turnovers will end the upset hopes.
Prediction: Notre Dame 27, Northwestern 20
Louisiana Tech (6-2) at No. 21 Mississippi State (5-3), 7:30 p.m. ET
If the version of Nick Fitzgerald who showed up in Week 9 reappears, Mississippi State should cruise past a solid Louisiana Tech squad. At his best, the dual-threat quarterback is a dynamic complement for a top defense. But if he's inaccurate through the air, Tech will be within striking distance late.
Prediction: Mississippi State 29, Louisiana Tech 17
Other Saturday Evening Games
Duke (5-3) at Miami (5-3), 7 p.m. ET
Over the last two games, Hurricanes quarterback Malik Rosier has mustered 5.4 yards per attempt with one touchdown and three interceptions. Yet that's not enough for head coach Mark Richt to reinstate N'Kosi Perry as the starter. Duke's recent struggles against the run will be a savior for the 'Canes—who thrive at home—but they're in danger of another bad loss.
Prediction: Miami 20, Duke 17
UConn (1-7) at Tulsa (1-7), 7 p.m. ET
We don't mean to alarm you, but Connecticut held an opponent below seven yards per snap last week. Progress! But weather played a significant role in that showing, and even a Tulsa offense that has lacked explosiveness all year should be able to shred the Huskies.
Prediction: Tulsa 34, UConn 24
UCLA (2-6) at Oregon (5-3), 7:30 p.m. ET
Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert and top receiver Dillon Mitchell are in concussion protocol. Without them, the Ducks would lack the key pieces of the passing game. It's a good thing for Oregon that UCLA is mediocre at stopping the run (No. 91 in yards per attempt), because this would otherwise have "upset" written all over it.
Prediction: Oregon 27, UCLA 21
Florida Atlantic (3-5) at Florida International (6-2), 7:30 p.m. ET
This season hasn't gone as planned for FAU, and the ineffective offense hasn't suggested it will perform well against a quality FIU defense. The Golden Panthers have limited four straight opponents to fewer than five yards per play.
Prediction: Florida International 31, Florida Atlantic 20
UTSA (3-5) at UAB (7-1), 7:30 p.m. ET
Four of UAB's last five opponents haven't cracked seven points. This is a stellar run for the Blazers defense, which should smother the nation's worst offense.
Prediction: UAB 31, UTSA 7
Saturday Night Games
No. 1 Alabama (8-0) at No. 4 LSU (7-1), 8 p.m. ET
With or without Devin White, Alabama would be the pick. However, the half-long targeting suspension for the dominant LSU linebacker only adds to the difficulty the Tigers will encounter against QB Tua Tagovailoa and a blazing Crimson Tide offense.
Prediction: Alabama 34, LSU 20
No. 7 Oklahoma (7-1) at Texas Tech (5-3), 8 p.m. ET
Texas Tech should be successful on offense, but the whole "stopping Kyler Murray" thing will be a problem. Oklahoma's baseball-bound quarterback is averaging an absurd 11.0 yards per play and will torch a decent Texas Tech defense.
Prediction: Oklahoma 49, Texas Tech 35
Stanford (5-3) at Washington (6-3), 9 p.m. ET
Despite briefly benching the quarterback in last week's loss to Cal, head coach Chris Petersen voiced his support for Jake Browning. This is an optimal chance for a bounce-back game from the senior, given Stanford's inability to generate consistent pressure. Washington should win at home, but a stellar defense can only do so much if Browning and Co. keep flailing in scoring territory.
Prediction: Washington 24, Stanford 20
USC (4-4) at Oregon State (2-6), 10 p.m. ET
Changes are happening at USC. After the team fired the offensive line coach, head man Clay Helton has taken over play-calling duties for the reeling Trojans. Porous pass defense is a glaring issue for the Beavers, but USC's defense looks uninspired. The Beavers will ride dynamic runner Jermar Jefferson to a stunning home win.
Prediction: Oregon State 34, USC 31
BYU (4-4) at Boise State (6-2), 10:15 p.m. ET
Opposing weaknesses make this an intriguing nonconference clash. Boise State's secondary has labored lately, yet BYU ranks 110th in yards per pass. We'll side with the Broncos, trusting their formidable offense at home to atone for their defensive woes.
Prediction: Boise State 31, BYU 21
San Diego State (6-2) at New Mexico (3-5), 10:15 p.m. ET
Reinforcements are coming a week too late for San Diego State, which lost 28-24 at Nevada last Saturday. Nevertheless, quarterback Christian Chapman's return from a knee injury should spark an efficient passing game that overwhelms New Mexico's 119th-ranked unit.
Prediction: San Diego State 28, New Mexico 17
No. 20 Fresno State (7-1) at UNLV (2-6), 10:30 p.m. ET
During the last four weeks, UNLV has surrendered exactly 200 points. In Fresno State's eight games, the defense has ceded 108. Don't think too hard.
Prediction: Fresno State 45, UNLV 17
Cal (5-3) at No. 10 Washington State (7-1), 10:45 p.m. ET
Two things are true: Cal has typically covered well. And, competent passing games have been in short supply. Washington and Oregon are Cal's only two prior opponents ranked better than 76th in yards per pass, and, well, Washington, yikes. While the Bears won't get rolled, Washington State's aerial attack will win the day.
Prediction: Washington State 30, Cal 21
No. 18 Utah State (7-1) at Hawaii (6-4), 11:59 p.m. ET
The high-powered scoring attack that dominated through September has disappeared. Hawaii has scored between 20 and 23 points in its last three games while allowing 40-plus each time. Utah State should pull away from the Warriors relatively quickly.
Prediction: Utah State 45, Hawaii 24