Picks for the biggest Week 10 games
Wes Huber previews and offers up picks for Saturday's biggest matchups.
Picks for the biggest Week 10 games
No. 16 Florida State at No. 1 Clemson
Line: Clemson -12.5
The wild card in this matchup will be which Florida State quarterback is handed the reigns to lead the offense. QB Everett Golson has been one of the top game-managers in college football to date, surrendering only a single interception in 238 dropbacks. That said, Golson has only completed eight passes of 20-plus yards, accumulating 242 yards, and resulting in three TDs. On the flip-side, QB Sean Maguire completed half that number in one game, 174 yards on vertical passes, and the same number of TDs on only 44 dropbacks.
The FSU defense has been more than adequate, allowing only 3.87 yards per rushing attempt, and four TDs on the ground. The pass rush of the Seminoles has proven more than a handful behind DE DeMarcus Walker assaulting opposing QBs with seven hurries, eight hits and six sacks. The Clemson offensive line will need to see better protection at center, right guard, and left tackle — the positions greatly responsible for the majority of the line’s woes.
Clemson’s rushing offense provides a must-see unstoppable force versus immovable object matchup to the Seminoles front-seven. The Tigers also bring a run defense featuring future NFL talents in edge-rushers Shaq Lawson and Kevin Dodd, LBs B.J. Goodson and Ben Boulware, and bruising-SS Jayron Kearse. The secondary has been strong, but not impenetrable, and a strong effort by Maguire will provide more than enough to present a challenge. Look for the Seminoles to push the Tigers to the limit prior to QB Deshaun Watson pulling away late.
Prediction: Clemson 31, Florida State 28
No. 2 LSU at No. 4 Alabama
Line: Alabama -6.5
The entirety of this article could be used to solely describe this matchup. Although, in actuality, it is the easiest to predict/explain. The singular weakness of Alabama has been in its attempt to replace the losses on the offensive line to the NFL. That hasn’t presented the rushing attack from finding significant success and the Crimson Tide defense will be the most dominant unit on the field Saturday. While RB Leonard Fournette has been a terror on the ground, the Tigers defense has been unable to thwart the run. Take the under on 47.5 points being scored and look for Alabama to cover the spread.
Prediction: Alabama 27, LSU 17
No. 11 Stanford at Colorado
Line: Stanford -16.0
Outside of the Marshall at Middle Tennessee line, no other matchup on the Saturday slate provides a line or O/U rendering a head-scratching fit as is presented here. Stanford has scored victories in excess of 16 points over PAC 12 opponents Washington, UCLA, Arizona, and Oregon State this season. The Cardinal offense has averaged 41 points per game following its Week-1 loss to Northwestern and the defense has allowed an average of 25 points to each PAC 12 opponent.
As for Colorado, they have surrendered 37 points per game in defeats, and have yet to score less than 20 points in any game this season. The strength of the Buffalo offense is on the ground and that will be tested against a stout Stanford front-seven. The challenge that Colorado has given to opponents comes in the form of a well-balanced team without an obvious area of exploitability. Look for the averages to win out in this game, leaving Stanford victorious, covering the spread, and overcoming the O/U.
Prediction: Stanford 42, Colorado 23
No. 8 TCU at No. 14 Oklahoma State
Line: TCU -5.5
Looking for an upset special? TCU was offered a gut-check by the College Playoff committee on Tuesday with a lower-than-expected placement in the rankings. The Horned Frogs have been more than advertised through the air, as QB Trevone Boykin currently checks-in with the highest PFF College passing grade in the country. The offensive line has played a significant role, finding its efficiency as a unit placed within the nations five best.
Oklahoma State was lucky to leave Lubbock victorious last week after surrendering a significant early lead. The top-three passing grade provided by QB Mason Rudolph proving more than the Red Raiders could defend and will push the TCU secondary to its limits. Another area that the Cowboys will test its opponent is in defensing the run. Oklahoma State is surrendering a miniscule 3.37 yards per attempt, nearly a full yard less than TCU, and eight less TDs allowed.
Emotions will likely be running high in a faceoff of a pair of undefeated Big 12 teams feeling disrespected by the committee. The overriding factor, outside of holding the home venue, will prove to be the importance placed upon the little things. The Oklahoma State offense ranks at the top in penalty avoidance and fields an above-average special teams unit. TCU has given up the fifth-most penalty yardage to date, mostly on defense, and the Horned Frogs special teams, outside of K Jaden Oberkrom, has left a gaping opportunity to exploit.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 45, TCU 42
Arizona State at Washington State
Line: Washington State -2.5
Nine games into the season and we finally see the Cougars favored in a matchup against a respectable opponent. It should already be common-knowledge that Washington State’s highly-efficient QB Luke Falk will be the focal point of the offense. What may not be readily known is just how impressive the Cougars offensive line has been and its significant role in the offenses passing success. Playing all but 12 snaps to date, the Cougars line is the only in the FBS to protect the quarterback on greater than 75 percent of passing situations from all five line positions.
The Sun Devils’ season has not gone to plan in 2015. Outside of an even record, the team has played much better than their record would suggest. It is true that the team, as a whole, was greatly out-played in its games facing Texas A&M and USC. That said, Arizona State could be sitting at 6-2 had a very small number of plays gone in their favor. Weaknesses in the secondary, highlighted by 17 TDs allowed through the air to only seven interceptions, could be the key to the result. Regardless, the Cougars will face a significant challenge toward victory, and the over/under will be put to the test.
Prediction: Washington State 38, Arizona State 35
Marshall at Middle Tennessee State
Line: Middle Tennessee State -3.0
To be clear, the numbers support a near-even matchup, and home field advantage could be enough to push the Blue Raiders to victory. Although, after watching both of these teams play and doing extensive analysis of the Marshall program, the result will be much different. While the rushing offense of Marshall has not produced as expected, the return of RB Devon Johnson will key the offense closer to those predicted results.
The Marshall defense’s only, slight, vulnerability is to the run and their opponent has a bottom-15 such attack. The strength of the Thundering Herd is an air-tight secondary and pressuring pass rush. Both factors will key its success over a Middle Tennessee offense that lives-and-dies behind the success of QB Brent Stockstill. This is a matchup ripe with earning potential.
Prediction: Marshall 30, Middle Tennessee 17
South Carolina at Tennessee
Line: Tennessee -17.0
Following the retirement of HC Steve Spurrier, the Gamecocks sprung to life with a win over Vanderbilt, and in giving Texas A&M all it could handle before finally succumbing 35-28. On paper, South Carolina does not provide any overwhelming strengths, but the return of RB Brandon Wilds from injury provides the offense with a much-needed identity.
While the Volunteers’ season has not gone to plan, there is no denying the formidable task for opponents in attempting to stunt this offenses rushing attack. The offensive is led by QB Joshua Dobbs, RBs Jalen Hurd, and Alvin Kamara, and nearly guaranteeing a certain level of production each week. Both defenses have significant flaws and, therein, presents the potential for earnings in challenging the over/under.
Prediction: Tennessee 42, South Carolina 28
California at Oregon
Line: Oregon -4.5
It is true that the Oregon offense has been revitalized by the return of QB Vernon Adams Jr. and, maybe equally, by the reinstatement of WR Darren Carrington. One factor that has not changed is the porous nature of the Ducks defense that has only been able to keep Colorado and Washington under 30 points. Digging deeper, the run defense has improved, and edge rusher DeForest Buckner leads one of the nations absolute-best pass rushes.
It is the secondary that is highly vulnerable and presents a clear path for the talents of QB Jared Goff to drive his high-powered Bear Raid passing attack. The Golden Bear secondary has been a strength, but the run defense will again be exploited by the elite running ability of RB Royce Freeman and true freshman RB Taj Griffin. With lead changes throughout and a healthy dose of offense – the Ducks will pull away late with enough to cover the spread.
Prediction: Oregon 40, California 34
Follow Wes on Twitter: @PFF_Wes
Wes Huber | Analyst
Wes is an analyst and fantasy correspondent at Pro Football Focus. He's been with the company since 2014, and his work has been featured on DraftKings Playbook and FantasyPros.