College Football Picks: Week 10 Predictions for Every Game
Every week of the college football season is important, but each game feels more critical now that the calendar has flipped to November.
Week 10 could be relatively quiet with Auburn at Texas A&M serving as the only matchup between teams with even the slightest CFP pulse.
But when is a Saturday in November ever quiet?
There are plenty of potential upsets brewing, most notably for Michigan State, Oregon, Wake Forest and Oklahoma State. It's just a question of how many of those contenders suffer a backbreaking loss—and where the inevitable shocking loss or two takes place.
After sifting through the numbers, here's what we see happening in Week 10.
Please Note: For this week, we are sticking with the AP Top 25 as opposed to the College Football Playoff Top 25. It doesn't change much in the Top 15, but it does mean considerably more Group of Five discussion in the Nos. 16-25 range. We'll start using the CFP rankings next week.
Accountability Time: A four-week winning streak has turned into a two-week losing streak with a 10-14 record against the spread in Top 25 games and Top Unranked Clashes in Week 9.
The fourth quarter was not kind to me this week. Virginia, Iowa State, Texas, SMU all led after three quarters and all blew it in the final 15 minutes. Oregon let Colorado get a backdoor cover, and the worst of the bunch was Clemson flipping both the spread and the total on a fumble recovery for a touchdown with no time left on the clock. Losing all six of those games hurt and dropped me to 105-99 overall (51.5 percent) against the spread.
Predictions for each Week 10 game are broken into three sections: AP Top 25 teams, best games between unranked teams and the rest of the slate. Unless otherwise noted, games are assumed to take place Saturday.
AP Nos. 25-21
No. 25 Fresno State (7-2) vs. Boise State (4-4), 7 p.m. ET
Between the loss to Hawai'i, the subsequent bye week and then the poor offensive showing at Wyoming, we kind of forgot about Jake Haener and Co. for a bit there. But the Bulldogs have resurfaced with back-to-back impressive wins over Nevada and San Diego State and now look like the favorite to win the Mountain West Conference.
Boise State has neither a two-game winning streak nor a two-game losing streak yet in 2021, and after a Week 9 win over Colorado State, the Broncos need to lose to Fresno State to keep that trend going. Boise State has averaged 24.8 points over its last six games and hasn't gone over 31 during that time. That won't be enough in Fresno.
Prediction: Fresno State 35, Boise State 28
No. 24 Louisiana (7-1) vs. Georgia State (4-4), 7:30 p.m. ET (Thursday)
Georgia State has quietly been one of the better rushing teams in the country, averaging more than 220 yards per game on the ground. But the Panthers have had a lot of trouble against likely bowl teams. Even with that one game against Auburn that was way closer than anyone expected, their four losses have come by an average margin of 28.5 points.
And after a slow two-game start to the season, Louisiana's run game has been even better than Georgia State's, averaging nearly 250 yards per contest over the last six games. The Ragin' Cajuns have won each of their last three home games by at least 28 points, so we're probably headed for a Thursday night blowout.
Prediction: Louisiana 42, Georgia State 17
No. 23 SMU (7-1) at Memphis (4-4), Noon ET
Memphis freshman quarterback Seth Henigan is expected to be a game-time decision in this one, and that is quite the significant unknown considering the Tigers scored only seven points against UCF two weeks ago without him He has done a remarkable job leading this Memphis offense, and picking the home team to pull off an upset would be far more tempting if he was healthy.
As is, I've got to go with SMU bouncing back from the loss to Houston with a convincing road win over a team that has forced only four turnovers all season. Arkansas State, Mississippi State and Temple each threw for well over 300 yards and three touchdowns against Memphis, and Tanner Mordecai (averaging 328.1 yards and 4.0 touchdowns) will follow suit.
Prediction: SMU 41, Memphis 24
No. 22 Penn State (5-3) at Maryland (5-3), 3:30 p.m. ET
Penn State has lost three straight games, while Maryland just ended a three-game losing streak of its own with a three-point home win over a 2-6 Indiana team that is down to its third-string quarterback.
In other words, this isn't exactly a battle between teams setting the world ablaze at the moment.
At least Penn State looked pretty good at Ohio State this past weekend, though. More specifically, Sean Clifford looked healthy again, throwing for 361 yards. It was his injury against Iowa that started this funk the Nittany Lions find themselves in, but he's going to pass them out of it this weekend.
Maryland has allowed at least 34 points and at least 425 total yards without forcing a single turnover in each of its past four games. It's time for Penn State to snap out of it.
Prediction: Penn State 35, Maryland 17
No. 21 Coastal Carolina (7-1) at Georgia Southern (2-6), 6 p.m. ET
Georgia Southern has one of the worst secondaries in the entire country. The Eagles are allowing 321.1 passing yards per game, and they have given up 23 passing touchdowns with just four interceptions.
Meanwhile, Coastal Carolina has one of the more prolific passing attacks, boasting 21 touchdowns against two interceptions and nearly 300 yards per game. The Chanticleers have had 37 passing plays of at least 20 yards and eight of at least 40 yards, matching Alabama in both of those categories.
Georgia Southern might have a respectable day running the ball, but this one is all but guaranteed to get ugly.
Prediction: Coastal Carolina 49, Georgia Southern 14
AP Nos. 20-16
No. 20 Houston (7-1) at South Florida (2-6), 7:30 p.m. ET
Houston has quietly put together a seven-game winning streak with a formidable defense. The schedule featuring games against Rice, Navy, Tulsa, Tulane and Grambling State is far from awe-inspiring, but the Cougars did hold both Texas Tech and SMU below 400 yards of total offense, which is no small feat.
And slowing down South Florida's offense hasn't been much of a struggle for anyone in the past four years since Quinton Flowers left. For the most part, the Bulls have also been woeful on defense this season.
Always beware the possible letdown game when a team enters the Top 25 for the first time all year, but it doesn't seem like it'll be a problem here.
Prediction: Houston 38, South Florida 17
No. 19 Iowa (6-2) at Northwestern (3-5), 7 p.m. ET
We've had a lot of negative things to say about Iowa's offense this season. But if the Hawkeyes can't establish the run in this game, they might as well just give up.
Northwestern has allowed 231.4 rushing yards and 2.8 rushing touchdowns per game in 2021, ranking among the worst in the nation in both categories. That run D has been especially putrid in Northwestern's five losses, allowing 315.6 yards and 4.2 touchdowns on average.
In spite of the recent losses, Iowa's defense has remained solid. The Hawkeyes did have an unusually bad day against Purdue's passing attack, but that was the outlier in what has otherwise been a great season. And at 19.0 points per game on the year, Northwestern isn't equipped to take on a great defense.
Prediction: Iowa 27, Northwestern 3
No. 18 Kentucky (6-2) vs. Tennessee (4-4), 7 p.m. ET
Last October, unranked Kentucky went on the road and demolished No. 18 Tennessee by a score of 34-7, matching its largest margin of victory in more than 100 all-time games played in this rivalry.
Might Tennessee return the favor against a Wildcats offense that has looked broken as of late?
Kentucky did have an offensive explosion against LSU in Week 6, but it has been held below 250 yards of total offense in three of its last four games. It was also outgained by at least 150 yards in each of those three games, so keeping pace with what has been an impressive Tennessee offense won't be easy.
Kentucky quarterback Will Levis has yet another less than mediocre performance, while Hendon Hooker has a nice day for the Vols, and the Wildcats drop their third straight game.
Prediction: Tennessee 27, Kentucky 20
No. 17 BYU (7-2) vs. Idaho State (FCS), 3 p.m. ET
Idaho State is 1-7 against FCS opponents. This team beating a ranked BYU on the road would go down as one of the biggest upsets in college football history. But we see no possible reason to worry about that, given the offensive explosion the Cougars just had in a 66-49 win over Virginia.
He won't get nearly as many touches this week, but Tyler Allgeier has another field day.
Prediction: BYU 52, Idaho State 6
No. 16 UTSA (8-0) at UTEP (6-2), 10:15 p.m. ET
It's incredible that this Conference USA game is getting the ESPN2 treatment. This league's games are usually buried on ESPN+ or CBS Sports Network, if they're televised at all. But it's finally time for more than a handful of people to watch one of the nation's six remaining undefeated squads.
We're likely going to see UTSA's opportunistic defense taking advantage of a struggling UTEP offense. The Roadrunners have 17 takeaways this season, which matches the Miners' 17 giveaways. Once that becomes a factor, Sincere McCormick will have a big day on the ground against a UTEP defense that has yet to face an above-average rushing attack this season.
Prediction: UTSA 35, UTEP 21
AP Nos. 15-11
No. 15 Ole Miss (6-2) vs. Liberty (7-2), Noon ET
On the one hand, Liberty's defensive numbers look good. The Flames have allowed only one opponent to score more than 26 points against them, and they've allowed more than 26 points only once, too.
On the other hand, Liberty has only played two games against teams who rank top 95 in the nation in total yards per game, and those two teams (Syracuse and North Texas) both rank roughly 60th. Against an Ole Miss offense that ranks fourth, the Flames defense is going to get extinguished.
Malik Willis and Co. should do a decent amount of work on offense against a Rebels defense that isn't very good. But Ole Miss will get a few more defensive stops in this shootout.
Prediction: Ole Miss 45, Liberty 35
No. 14 Baylor (7-1) at TCU (3-5), 3:30 p.m. ET
Another head coach bit the dust this week. TCU opted to part ways with Gary Patterson after more than two decades, perhaps because the defense has been so continuously disappointing this season.
Seven consecutive opponents have scored at least 29 points against the Horned Frogs, who have been particularly bad against the run. Those seven foes averaged 225.0 rushing yards per game, and it's hard to see that getting any better this week against a Baylor offense that ranks fourth in the nation in yards per carry and eighth in rushing yards per game.
Meanwhile, the Bears have not allowed an opponent to score 30 yet this season, so TCU's offense—especially if Zach Evans doesn't play again this week—is unlikely to keep up with what its defense will allow.
Prediction: Baylor 37, TCU 27
No. 12 Auburn (6-2) at No. 13 Texas A&M (6-2), 3:30 p.m. ET
Much like Michigan vs. Michigan State this past Saturday, it feels like this game of the week is going to boil down to which front seven is able to best stifle the opponent's strong rushing attack.
If that's the case, the Aggies have been hotter as of late.
Led by Isaiah Spiller and Devon Achane, Texas A&M has rushed for at least 280 yards in back-to-back games, while the defense has held four of its last six foes below 100 rushing yards. Meanwhile, Auburn has been outrushed by 172 yards over its last five games, as Jarquez Hunter has faded considerably after his hot start.
Auburn has still won most of those games because of the emergence of Bo Nix. He has accounted for three touchdowns in each of the past two weeks, including undeniably outplaying Heisman front-runner Matt Corral in the Week 9 win over Ole Miss. And for as good as A&M has been against the run, that defense has run into some issues against competent passing attacks.
I picked against Auburn in every game in October, but Nix has won me over with his play as of late. The Tigers pick up a huge road win and remain a fringe candidate to become the first two-loss team to reach the College Football Playoff.
Prediction: Auburn 27, Texas A&M 24
No. 11 Oklahoma State (7-1) at West Virginia (4-4), 3:30 p.m. ET
In three games this season against ranked opponents, West Virginia has knocked off Iowa State and Virginia Tech and did not trail at any point until the end of regulation against Oklahoma. The Mountaineers are only .500 overall, but they have not been an easy out, particularly in Morgantown.
When West Virginia does lose, though, there's a common theme: an inability to establish the run. The 'Eers have averaged only 75.0 rushing yards per game and 2.6 yards per carry in their four losses, and that's a bad omen in advance of a matchup with an Oklahoma State defense allowing 94.9 YPG and 2.9 YPC.
We'll see which version of Spencer Sanders shows up for the Cowboys, though. For a 7-1 team still mathematically in the hunt for a spot in the College Football Playoff, this has not been a potent offense.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 24, West Virginia 20
AP Nos. 10-6
No. 10 Wake Forest (8-0) at North Carolina (4-4), Noon ET
I can appreciate why North Carolina is slightly favored in this game, because UNC quarterback Sam Howell is an extraordinary talent and because Wake Forest's defense has been more than a little porous this season. Prior to a 45-7 win over hapless Duke this past weekend, the Demon Deacons had allowed at least 500 yards of total offense in four consecutive games.
The Tar Heels have averaged 40.3 points over their last seven games, so there's a decent chance they put up a 40-burger in this game, too.
The problem is that North Carolina's defense is every bit as bad as Wake Forest's, and the Demon Deacons offense has been scorching to the tune of at least 35 points in every game this season. They put up 638 yards in the 70-56 win over Army, and then came back seven days later for 677 yards against Duke.
UNC might score 40, but Wake Forest might score 50. Buckle up for a fun start to the day on Saturday. And if quarterback Sam Hartman shines once again while carrying Wake Forest to a 9-0 record, he might be a late-arriving Heisman candidate.
Prediction: Wake Forest 42, North Carolina 38
No. 9 Michigan (7-1) vs. Indiana (2-6), 7:30 p.m. ET
Indiana is down to its third-string quarterback, and its defense has been a mess lately, allowing more than 500 yards in back-to-back games.
When that happens against Ohio State, oh well, join the club. When it happens against Maryland, though, it helps explain how the No. 17 team in the preseason AP poll is sitting at 2-6.
Indiana's run defense has been respectable, though, so this might be another big day for Michigan's Cade McNamara and Andrel Anthony. The Wolverines bounce back from that collapse against Michigan State by never giving Indiana a chance.
Prediction: Michigan 35, Indiana 13
No. 8 Notre Dame (7-1) vs. Navy (2-6), 3:30 p.m. ET
These teams have been playing each other on an annual basis for almost a century. When Notre Dame is ranked and Navy is not, the Fighting Irish are 45-2, and one of those losses came in 1936.
Don't let Navy's record fool you, though. The Midshipmen lost by only one possession to each of Cincinnati, Houston and SMU, and aside from some fourth-quarter magic against Wisconsin, Notre Dame's defense hasn't been anything special this season.
Just about every week, there's one game with a spread in the 17-21 point range that just feels way too high, and it usually ends up decided by one score. That might be the case here.
Prediction: Notre Dame 28, Navy 17
No. 7 Oregon (7-1) at Washington (4-4), 7:30 p.m. ET
Oregon is probably going to slip up at least once more before Selection Sunday, but I don't imagine it will be in this game.
Save for one explosion against Arkansas State, Washington's offense has not been good, averaging 18.6 points in its other seven games. The Huskies ran it well this past week against Stanford, but that was both an anomaly for them and a testament to how bad the Cardinal front seven has been. Even though Oregon's defense hasn't been great, Washington is going to struggle to score in this one.
And when Oregon has the ball, Travis Dye and Anthony Brown figure to run at will against a defense which has allowed at least 200 rushing yards to each of Arizona, Michigan, Oregon State and UCLA. (Doing so against Arizona was particularly troubling.)
Prediction: Oregon 35, Washington 17
No. 6 Ohio State (7-1) at Nebraska (3-6), Noon ET
Nebraska might be the toughest 3-6 team you'll ever meet.
All six of the Cornhuskers' losses have been by eight points or fewer, which includes road games against Oklahoma, Michigan State and Minnesota, as well as home games against Michigan and Purdue. Putting a healthy scare into likely bowl teams before losing those games has been their thing since mid-September.
But this may be where the floodgates open and the dam breaks, because Ohio State has beaten Nebraska by at least 35 points in four of their last five meetings. Even in 2016 when the Cornhuskers were a Top 10 team for that showdown, Ohio State destroyed them.
Nebraska will put a few dents in the scoreboard. Adrian Martinez has very quietly thrown for at least 200 yards in all nine games this season, and this offense has scored multiple touchdowns in each game. But Ohio State is going to repeatedly march down the field against this good-not-great defense.
Prediction: Ohio State 41, Nebraska 20
AP Nos. 5-1
No. 5 Michigan State (8-0) at Purdue (5-3), 3:30 p.m. ET
In five out of seven years in the College Football Playoff era, a team ranked in the Top 5 of the initial CFP Top 25 immediately went out and lost the following week.
Could Purdue keep that trend going by pulling off its second massive upset of the season?
One thing's for certain: Big things are possible when Purdue drops back to pass. The Boilermakers are averaging 307.1 passing yards per game while Michigan State has allowed a fourth-most-in-the-nation 300.5 passing yards per game, despite having not faced any of the Big Ten's top four passing attacks (Ohio State, Maryland, Purdue and Penn State).
Sparty had no answer for unknown freshman Andrel Anthony this past week, and they might have even more trouble against Purdue's David Bell, who shredded Iowa for 240 receiving yards in the aforementioned massive upset.
Unlike Iowa, at least Michigan State has an elite running back. Kenneth Walker III rushed for five touchdowns against Michigan, single-handedly saving the day. But he was also held in check in MSU's close calls against Nebraska and Indiana. If he's anything less than great in this road game, the Boilermakers can (and probably should) pull off the upset.
Prediction: Purdue 27, Michigan State 24
No. 4 Oklahoma (9-0) idle
The only 9-0 team in the country gets the week off to prepare for its upcoming gauntlet. The Sooners will host Iowa State in between road games against Baylor and Oklahoma State, before then likely facing either Baylor or Oklahoma State in the Big 12 championship. There are question marks about this resume and some of the margins of victory on it, but the Sooners should be no worse than No. 2 in the College Football Playoff if they're able to win those final four games.
No. 3 Alabama (7-1) vs. LSU (4-4), 7 p.m. ET
In 10 of the last 11 meetings between these SEC West rivals, LSU has been held to 17 points or fewer. The Tigers were also held to 21 points or fewer in three of their four games in October this year. And LSU's defense has been pretty bad once again this year, allowing at least 450 total yards in all six games against Power Five opponents.
There have been some gems in this rivalry over the years, but there's nothing to suggest this will be one of them. The only drama here will be for the bettors sweating out the 28.5-point spread for the final few minutes.
Prediction: Alabama 41, LSU 14
No. 2 Cincinnati (8-0) vs. Tulsa (3-5), 3:30 p.m. ET
With College GameDay coming to Cincinnati for the first time ever, will the Bearcats be able to snap out of their recent funk of slow starts?
Two weeks ago against Navy, they didn't take the lead for the first time until the final play before halftime. And last week against Tulane, they were up only 14-12 until they started to pull away late in the third quarter.
Against a Tulsa team that almost beat Oklahoma State and that had Ohio State on the ropes into the fourth quarter, a similar first-half performance could be a major problem.
However, I suspect they'll strike early and often in this one, taking advantage of a mediocre-at-best Golden Hurricane defense. Desmond Ridder and Jerome Ford continue carrying Cincinnati in the direction of a 13-0 season.
Prediction: Cincinnati 41, Tulsa 20
No. 1 Georgia (8-0) vs. Missouri (4-4), Noon ET
Georgia will eventually need to decide whether Stetson Bennett or JT Daniels at quarterback gives them a better chance of winning the national championship. But against a Missouri defense that ranks dead last in the nation in rushing yards allowed per game and next-to-last in yards allowed per carry, the Bulldogs could mess around and win this game by four scores without even attempting a pass.
Missouri has scored multiple offensive touchdowns in each game this season, but good luck with that in Athens.
Prediction: Georgia 38, Missouri 10
Top Unranked Clashes
Here are the five most intriguing "other" games for Week 10.
Fifth-Best: Wisconsin (5-3) at Rutgers (4-4), 3:30 p.m. ET—It took more than a month to come together, but Wisconsin's combination of ground-and-pound offense and stingy defense has been top notch as of late. Against a Rutgers offense that has been held to 20 points or fewer by six consecutive FBS opponents, things could get really bleak for the home team. Prediction: Wisconsin 31, Rutgers 6
Fourth-Best: Clemson (5-3) at Louisville (4-4), 7:30 p.m. ET—Speaking of teams with stingy defense and no passing attack, Clemson improved to 5-3 in agonizing backdoor-cover fashion with a 30-20 win over Florida State. The Tigers will now face a Louisville team which has lost three of its last four, despite rushing for at least 200 yards in each of those games. The rushing yards streak comes to an end, but the losing ways continue for the Cardinals. Prediction: Clemson 24, Louisville 19
Third-Best: USC (4-4) at Arizona State (5-3), 10:30 p.m. ET—With star wide receiver Drake London ruled out for the rest of the year, USC's already-not-that-great offense is liable to implode. And after narrowly winning at home against Arizona, a road win over Arizona State is quite unlikely. Then again, Washington State's Week 9 win at ASU was implausible, too. Prediction: Arizona State 35, USC 18
Second-Best: Texas (4-4) at Iowa State (5-3), 7:30 p.m. ET—Texas went 6-6 in its first season under Charlie Strong and 6-6 in its first season under Tom Herman. A road loss to Iowa State will bring the Longhorns one step closer to finishing Steve Sarkisian's first regular season with a .500 record. Texas has blown a double-digit lead in each of the three games during its current losing streak. Iowa State has enough weapons to mount a similar comeback, if needed. Prediction: Iowa State 34, Texas 31
Best: Mississippi State (5-3) at Arkansas (5-3), 4 p.m. ET—The two teams with wins over Texas A&M square off, with the winner punching its ticket to bowl season. Arkansas has been well above average against the pass this year with seven interceptions against five touchdowns allowed. That could be a big problem for Mississippi State, which averages 55.4 pass attempts per game. Give me the Hogs to get their second SEC win. Prediction: Arkansas 31, Mississippi State 23
The Rest of the Slate
*Ball State (4-4) at Akron (2-6), 7 p.m. ET (Tuesday): Ball State 35-17
*Eastern Michigan (5-3) at Toledo (4-4), 7:30 p.m. ET (Tuesday): Eastern Michigan 28-24
*Miami-Ohio (4-4) at Ohio (1-7), 7:30 p.m. ET (Tuesday): Miami-Ohio 31-24
Central Michigan (4-4) at Western Michigan (5-3), 7 p.m. ET (Wednesday): Western Michigan 38-27
Northern Illinois (6-2) at Kent State (4-4), 7 p.m. ET (Wednesday): Kent State 41-35
Virginia Tech (4-4) at Boston College (4-4), 7:30 p.m. ET (Friday): Boston College 24-21
Utah (5-3) at Stanford (3-5), 10:30 p.m. ET (Friday): Utah 34-24
Army (4-3) at Air Force (6-2), 11:30 a.m. ET: Air Force 24-17
Illinois (3-6) at Minnesota (6-2), Noon ET: Minnesota 27-10
Louisiana Tech (2-6) at UAB (5-3), Noon ET: UAB 31-13
Pittsburgh (6-2) at Duke (3-5), Noon ET: Pittsburgh 45-21
Kansas State (5-3) at Kansas (1-7), Noon ET: Kansas State 41-20
Georgia Tech (3-5) at Miami-Florida (4-4), 12:30 p.m. ET: Miami-Florida 35-30
Appalachian State (6-2) at Arkansas State (1-7), 2 p.m. ET: Appalachian State 42-24
Temple (3-5) at East Carolina (4-4), 3 p.m. ET: East Carolina 28-14
UL-Monroe (4-4) at Texas State (2-6), 3 p.m. ET: Texas State 31-27
North Texas (2-6) at Southern Miss (1-7), 3 p.m. ET: Southern Miss 27-24
California (3-5) at Arizona (0-8), 3 p.m. ET: California 27-14
Colorado State (3-5) at Wyoming (4-4), 3:30 p.m. ET: Wyoming 17-13
Rice (3-5) at Charlotte (4-4), 3:30 p.m. ET: Charlotte 31-25
Middle Tennessee (4-4) at Western Kentucky (4-4), 3:30 p.m. ET: Western Kentucky 49-27
South Alabama (5-3) at Troy (4-4), 3:30 p.m. ET: Troy 27-21
Rhode Island (FCS), at Massachusetts (1-7), 3:30 p.m. ET: Massachusetts 30-28
Tulane (1-7) at UCF (5-3), 4 p.m. ET: Tulane 34-30
NC State (6-2) at Florida State (3-5), 4 p.m. ET: NC State 35-27
Utah State (6-2) at New Mexico State (1-7), 4 p.m. ET: Utah State 52-17
Marshall (5-3) at Florida Atlantic (5-3), 6 p.m. ET: Marshall 28-24
UNLV (0-8) at New Mexico (3-5), 7 p.m. ET: UNLV 23-20
Oregon State (5-3) at Colorado (2-6), 7 p.m. ET: Oregon State 35-24
Old Dominion (2-6) at Florida International (1-7), 7 p.m. ET: FIU 31-27
Florida (4-4) at South Carolina (4-4), 7:30 p.m. ET: Florida 35-21
San Jose State (5-4) at Nevada (6-2), 10 p.m. ET: Nevada 41-28
San Diego State (7-1) at Hawai'i (4-5), 11 p.m. ET: San Diego State 23-17
*Tuesday games finished before publish, but we're including projections for those three MAC matchups anyway.