College Football Picks: Week 10 Predictions for Every Game
With only two games between ranked opponents, this week is essentially the fall break for a lot of teams before the big finale.
Just one of those games (Georgia vs. Florida in Jacksonville) is between Power Five opponents. The other ranked showdown is a marquee AAC game between undefeated SMU and a one-loss Memphis team that's fortunate to be where it is thanks to Tulsa's missed last-second, chip-shot field goal Saturday.
Also, four of the top five teams in the Associated Press rankings are idle this weekend, so there's not a ton of elite action.
There are still plenty of games worth watching, though, including some key conference battles. Let's make predictions for every game in the country coming up in Week 10, with analysis of notable matchups.
The predictions are organized based on AP ranking in ascending order, and the remainder are listed chronologically after a preview of the five best games between unranked teams. All odds are courtesy of Caesars and accurate as of Monday night, and all game times are ET.
AP Nos. 25-21
No. 25 San Diego State (idle)
The Aztecs are consistently one of the sneaky-good Mountain West teams that get little pub. They get a much-needed bye week before a tough end of the season that features games against Nevada, Fresno State, Hawaii and BYU. The good news is all of those besides a trip to the islands are at home.
No. 15 SMU at No. 24 Memphis, 7:30 p.m. (Memphis -6)
For prediction, see No. 15 SMU.
North Carolina State at No. 23 Wake Forest, noon (Wake -7.5)
All eyes will be on the quarterback position in this game, and rightfully so. Wake Forest is hoping Jamie Newman returns after missing time with a banged-up shoulder suffered against Louisville. If so, the Demon Deacons are likely to best NC State and redshirt freshman signal-caller Devin Leary.
Prediction: Wake Forest 37, NC State 24
No. 22 Kansas State at Kansas, 3:30 p.m. (K-State -5.5)
What can the Wildcats do for an encore after a resounding upset of Oklahoma? They have to travel to play the rival Jayhawks after their triumphant last-second, do-over victory over Texas Tech. These two programs are on an upward trajectory, and this game should be a lot of fun. But give me Les Miles and his suddenly high-flying offensive attack.
Prediction: Kansas 33, Kansas State 30
No. 21 Boise State at San Jose State, 10:30 p.m. (Boise -17)
Whether Chase Cord or Hank Bachmeier starts at quarterback for the Broncos, it's not going to be fun to be San Jose State this week after Boise's frustrating three-point loss to BYU two weeks ago. There's just too much firepower for a much-improved Spartans team to deal with.
Prediction: Boise State 40, San Jose State 24
AP Nos. 20-16
No. 19 Iowa (idle)
The Hawkeyes are perhaps the most underappreciated team in the Big Ten, sitting at 6-2 with narrow losses to Michigan (10-3) and Penn State (17-12). Iowa is capable of beating anybody at any time with its grind-it-out brand of football, and the Hawkeyes get a much-needed break before next weekend's tilt with Wisconsin.
No. 18 Wisconsin (idle)
If there's any team in the nation that needs a break to regroup, it's the Badgers. They went from being one of the biggest early-season surprises just three weeks ago to an embarrassing road loss to Illinois before getting wiped by Ohio State. The defense and star running back Jonathan Taylor have let them down lately. Things don't get easier against Iowa, but at least they're back at home.
No. 17 Cincinnati at East Carolina, 7 p.m. (Cincy -24)
The only loss the Bearcats have suffered came at the hands of Ohio State. By the end of the season, that's a distinction they'll share with many. Right now, they look like the nation's best Group of Five team, with competition from SMU. They'll definitely be the superior team this weekend.
Prediction: Cincinnati 30, ECU 13
Virginia Tech at No. 16 Notre Dame, 2:30 p.m. (ND -17)
It's regrouping time for the Irish after getting demoralized in the Big House, but a better-than-you-think Hokies team awaits. They're 5-2 and coming off a win over North Carolina and then a bye week. Coach Justin Fuente's team is sixth nationally in red-zone offense, and Notre Dame has been awful defensively inside the 20. This game is going to be much closer than folks think.
Prediction: Notre Dame 27, Virginia Tech 24
AP Nos. 15-11
No. 15 SMU at No. 24 Memphis, 7:30 p.m. (Memphis -6)
Memphis is having a nice season but is nowhere near as explosive offensively as it's been in recent years. There's just something about that Mustang magic this season too. There's no question the Bluff City will be hype with ESPN's College GameDay crew coming to town, but SMU is going to pull the upset on the road.
Prediction: SMU 40, Memphis 37
No. 14 Michigan at Maryland, noon (Michigan -18.5)
The win over Notre Dame may have been the most complete effort coach Jim Harbaugh's team had in the past calendar year, and it was much needed with the consternation around Ann Arbor. The Wolverines have to tune things up the rest of the way before the season-ending tilt with Ohio State. This week's game will be a laugher.
Prediction: Michigan 38, Maryland 13
No. 13 Minnesota (idle)
Coach P.J. Fleck's team is undefeated but has played an incredibly weak schedule. That's the reason the Golden Gophers aren't ranked higher. They'll get a golden opportunity to show just how strong the program is when they host Penn State following this week's bye. That's going to be a fun one.
Ole Miss at No. 11 Auburn, 7 p.m. (AU -17.5)
The Tigers come back home after last weekend's tough trip to Baton Rouge, where they found out what everybody else is realizing: The Bayou Bengals are for real. Ole Miss will be an easier test. The Rebels are improved defensively from a season ago, but it's going to be tough to generate points against AU's stout D.
Prediction: Auburn 27, Ole Miss 13
AP Nos. 10-6
No. 10 Oklahoma (idle)
Maybe if the Sooners win out, last weekend's loss to Kansas State will look better since they fought nearly all the way back before losing 48-41. But that was a red-flag game for the defense if there ever was one. They'll get a bye before an end-of-year gauntlet that features games against Iowa State, at Baylor, TCU and at Oklahoma State.
No. 9 Utah at Washington, 4 p.m. (Utah -3.5)
Much of the early-season talk in the Pac-12 centered on Oregon and its stellar defense. But after the Ducks' escape against Washington State last weekend, Utah's defense sits at the top of the league in scoring defense and total defense. This weekend will be a tough test against Jacob Eason, though. Look for the Huskies to get their best win of the year in an upset.
Prediction: Washington 27, Utah 23
No. 8 Georgia vs. No. 6 Florida, 3:30 p.m. (Jacksonville) (UGA -6)
For prediction, see No. 6 Florida.
No. 7 Oregon at USC, 8 p.m. (Oregon -5.5)
The Ducks were fortunate to outlast Washington State when basically nothing went right. While the Trojans were able to come back and beat Colorado, they have too many injuries to hang with a team as complete as Mario Cristobal's Oregon team. It won't be a blowout, but the Ducks will handle business.
Prediction: Oregon 34, USC 24
No. 8 Georgia vs. No. 6 Florida, 3:30 p.m. (Jacksonville) (UGA -6)
Neither of these teams has looked impressive offensively in the past couple of games, but coming off bye weeks, they may have fixed some things. The Bulldogs need to get back to what made them a feared team early in the year, and it starts with Jake Fromm and his young receiving corps. They need to get back on track, and UGA will pull out a close win.
Prediction: Georgia 31, Florida 26
AP Nos. 5-1
No. 5 Penn State (idle)
The biggest surprise this season for Penn State is a scoring defense that is second nationally behind Ohio State. The Nittany Lions are inconsistent offensively but still have plenty of weapons around first-year starting quarterback Sean Clifford. They'll try to expose Minnesota on the road next week and gear up for the home stretch.
Wofford at No. 4 Clemson, 4 p.m. (off)
This is a bad time to catch the Tigers, who look like they're (finally) getting their sea legs after an ugly start to the season offensively. The Terriers aren't going to pose much of a threat past the first quarter. This is an opportunity for Dabo Swinney to see a lot of his young toys in action.
Prediction: Clemson 59, Wofford 3
No. 3 Ohio State (idle)
The Buckeyes probably have a better set of talented weapons on both sides of the ball than anybody in the nation. While Alabama, LSU and Clemson can match the offensive stars, the Buckeyes counter with elite defenders, and that may ultimately set them apart. They'll polish some things and get ready for the end of the season with an off week.
No. 2 Alabama (idle)
The bye week couldn't come at a better time for the Crimson Tide, who were without Heisman Trophy hopeful Tua Tagovailoa in last weekend's dominant win over Arkansas. Mac Jones more than held his own against the Hogs, but UA needs a healthy Tua to hang with LSU's air attack next week in the game of the year.
No. 1 LSU (idle)
Ed Orgeron is 8-3 against AP Top 10 opponents in his time as LSU's head coach, but all three of those losses were to Nick Saban's Crimson Tide. Do you know how much that irks him and the LSU faithful, who want nothing more than to dethrone their former coach? The prime chance comes next week in a No. 1 vs. 2 showdown. Things set up nicely for both teams with an off week.
The 5 Best Unranked Battles
Miami at Florida State, 3:30 p.m. (FSU -4)
There's no question this game has lost luster from years past, and plenty of frustration surrounds the tenure of Willie Taggart at FSU, but he needs a victory in this winnable game to regain a modicum of support in Tallahassee. For Manny Diaz, it's the opportunity to get a "name" win in Year 1. Both teams are trying to get to 5-4.
Prediction: Miami 30, Florida State 27
TCU at Oklahoma State, 3:30 p.m. (OSU -3)
These are two of the best unranked teams out there and two of the most fun to watch. After last weekend's huge win over rival Texas, the Horned Frogs are riding high. But this game is in Stillwater, and running back Chuba Hubbard is going to be the difference against the Big 12's top defense.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 34, TCU 30
Virginia at North Carolina, 7:30 p.m. (UNC -1.5)
This game is for first place in the Coastal Division. Who would have thought the Tar Heels would be in this position in Mack Brown's first year? They're 4-4 and one of the best stories in college football. This is a big ACC stage, and the Heels are ready for it in what will be a defensive showdown.
Prediction: North Carolina 24, Virginia 22
Oregon State at Arizona, 4:30 p.m. (Arizona -6)
Kevin Sumlin fired defensive coordinator Marcel Yates and linebackers coach John Rushing this week; the Wildcats rank 119th in total defense and 118th in scoring defense. Former NFL hard hitter Chuck Cecil will call the plays, so look for Arizona to be more aggressive. Still, this has the potential for a lot of points.
Prediction: Arizona 42, Oregon State 37
UAB at Tennessee, 7 p.m. (UT -10.5)
A strong, 6-1 UAB team travels to Neyland Stadium to try to duplicate what Group of Five opponent Georgia State did to start the season: upsetting the Vols on the road. UT is playing better of late and could make a bowl with a favorable late-season schedule. Don't count out Bill Clark's Blazers, though.
Prediction: Tennessee 31, UAB 20
The Rest of the Slate (1/3)
Houston at Central Florida, noon (UCF -23.5)
Prediction: UCF 44, Houston 27
Buffalo at Eastern Michigan, noon (EMU -2)
Prediction: Eastern Michigan 37, Buffalo 34
Northern Illinois at Central Michigan, noon (Even)
Prediction: Northern Illinois 26, Central Michigan 23
Nebraska at Purdue, noon (Nebraska -2.5)
Prediction: Purdue 37, Nebraska 35
Boston College at Syracuse, noon (Syracuse -2.5)
Prediction: Boston College 27, Syracuse 17
UTSA at Texas A&M, noon (A&M -38)
Prediction: Texas A&M 48, UTSA 13
Old Dominion at Florida International, noon (FIU -16.5)
Prediction: Florida International 30, Old Dominion 14
Liberty at UMass, noon (Liberty -22)
Prediction: Liberty 40, UMass 20
Akron at Bowling Green, 2 p.m. (BGSU -6)
Prediction: Bowling Green 36, Akron 20
The Rest of the Slate (2/3)
Troy at Coastal Carolina, 3 p.m. (Even)
Prediction: Troy 27, Coastal Carolina 23
Arkansas State at Louisiana-Monroe, 3:30 p.m. (ASU -1.5)
Prediction: Arkansas State 41, Louisiana-Monroe 30
Marshall at Rice, 3:30 p.m. (Marshall -10.5)
Prediction: Marshall 31, Rice 23
UTEP at North Texas, 3:30 p.m. (UNT -23)
Prediction: North Texas 38, UTEP 13
Army at Air Force, 3:30 p.m. (AF -14)
Prediction: Air Force 30, Army 17
Middle Tennessee at Charlotte, 3:30 p.m. (MTSU -2.5)
Prediction: Charlotte 32, MTSU 28
UNLV at Colorado State, 3:30 p.m. (CSU -9.5)
Prediction: Colorado State 37, UNLV 31
Rutgers at Illinois, 3:30 p.m. (No Line)
Prediction: Illinois 31, Rutgers 12
Mississippi State at Arkansas, 4 p.m. (MSU -7.5)
Prediction: Mississippi State 28, Arkansas 17
Pittsburgh at Georgia Tech, 4 p.m. (Pitt -8)
Prediction: Pittsburgh 26, Georgia Tech 16
The Rest of the Slate (3/3)
Florida Atlantic at Western Kentucky, 4 p.m. (WKU -1.5)
Prediction: Western Kentucky 35, FAU 31
Tulsa at Tulane, 4 p.m. (Tulane -10.5)
Prediction: Tulane 27, Tulsa 24
Texas State at Louisiana, 5 p.m. (ULL -22.5)
Prediction: Louisiana 35, Texas State 20
Northwestern at Indiana, 7 p.m. (IU -12.5)
Prediction: Indiana 27, Northwestern 17
Vanderbilt at South Carolina, 7:30 p.m. (USC -15)
Prediction: South Carolina 31, Vanderbilt 23
Colorado at UCLA, 9 p.m. (UCLA -6.5)
Prediction: UCLA 37, Colorado 30
BYU at Utah State, 10 p.m. (USU -3.5)
Prediction: BYU 22, Utah State 16
New Mexico at Nevada, 10:30 p.m. (Nevada -4.5)
Prediction: Nevada 41, New Mexico 34
Fresno State at Hawaii, 11:59 p.m. (Hawaii -2.5)
Prediction: Fresno State 44, Hawaii 41