2018 NCAAF Week 10 Weekend Preview

November 2, 2018
By K. Becks

November – the month where college football dreams can’t quite be realized, but can certainly be dashed.

Over the next five weekends, the dreams of many teams will be dashed. While it’s not the prettiest picture to paint of the sport, it’s the aspect that makes it so entertaining to watch, especially at this point in the season.

A couple of dreams were likely dashed last weekend, resulting in my ultimate victory over Phil in the head-to-head prediction game. We’re now even again overall, with the standings looking like this:

K. Becks: 30-15

Guests: 30-15

This week, my father joins to make picks. For those wondering, yes, no one else responded to my invitation to make picks. I appreciate the undying support of my readers.

Before we take a look at what I believe to be the best weekend slate of games this season, here are my “Three Thoughts” from the weekend that was.

  1. I have a new “College Quarterback Crush”. His name is Jake Fromm. And his third and final touchdown pass against Florida last weekend made me feel things. More on this later.
  2. Coaches who make the kind of money Kirk Ferentz makes normally have to win a few of the games like the one Iowa played against Penn State last weekend. But not Kirk – no, the Iowa performance last weekend was the Hawkeye Way to a T.
  3. Kentucky’s victory on the last play of regulation, which consequently was a replay of the actual last play of regulation, is a testament to just how special a year it has been for the Wildcats. Even if you’re a Missouri fan, don’t you dig it, if only just a little bit?

Admittedly, that was kind of a weird one. Let’s take a look at the top games for this packed weekend.

5 Games to Watch This Weekend

#6 Georgia at #9 Kentucky (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Normally a big game in November being played on the University of Kentucky campus takes place on the hardwood, but the Wildcats are no joke in football this season. Kentucky has the opportunity to seize first place in the SEC East outright on Saturday afternoon, a feat that nearly everyone outside the state of Georgia would like to see, simply for the novelty of it. The Bulldogs are a tough visitor to Kroger Field, however. Last weekend Georgia showed why it is one of the more difficult teams in the conference to slow down when Jake Fromm is playing well. Fromm’s third touchdown against Florida was the most beautiful ball thrown that I’ve seen in college football this season. If he’s making similar throws against Kentucky’s stifling defense, which generally speaking shut down fellow gunslinger Drew Lock of Missouri last weekend, then it will be a long day for the Wildcats.

Although I hopped on the Kentucky bandwagon weeks ago and will be rooting for the Wildcats to create havoc on the first weekend we have CFP rankings to argue about, I saw a very strong Georgia team handle Florida with ease last weekend. Assuming the Bulldogs have learned from their slip-up against LSU earlier this season, I don’t think Kentucky can hang within 10 points of Georgia in this one.

My Pick: 27-14 Georgia

Dad’s Take: Georgia 35 Kentucky 24. What WOULD happen if a Bulldog tangled with a Wildcat? Who knows, but in this case dogs over cats.The Wildcats are having a great year, but not against the SEC elite.

#13 West Virginia at #17 Texas (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Both of these teams will need an extreme amount of help to claw back into the CFP conversation, but Big 12 supremacy is not out of the picture for either. Texas is coming off of the loss that essentially ended its Playoff hopes, while West Virginia faded back into anonymity after losing to Iowa State three weeks ago and hasn’t been challenged since. This game will be about redemption for both, with the opportunity to stay at least tied for the Big 12 lead heading into next week.

The fact that Iowa State held Will Grier to only 100 yards passing and one passing touchdown is astounding, considering that Grier hasn’t thrown for fewer than 330 yards or three touchdowns in any other game this season. The performance of the Texas secondary has been all over the board this season, but one thing has been consistent – the Longhorns have had trouble against the best quarterbacks. Southern Cal, Oklahoma and most recently Oklahoma State all threw for at least 300 yards and only against Southern Cal did Texas’s defense dominate. Assuming there isn’t another outlier performance from Grier, the Mountaineers will simply have too much gas for the Longhorns.

My Pick: 49-42 West Virginia

Dad’s Take: Texas 31 WVU 30. Texas slips by in this seesaw, hard to pick battle.

#14 Penn State at #5 Michigan (Saturday, 3:45 PM ET)

The Wolverines enter this weekend with the most unenviable ranking in the CFP poll – that is, the one just outside of qualification for the Playoff. But with more than a month left in the regular season that is of no concern to this squad, which is playing its best football right now. Penn State, on the other hand, is a mystery. How healthy is Trace McSorley? What has happened to the offense? Has James Franklin lost buy-in from this team?

These aren’t questions any teams wants to have to face. Worse yet, the Nittany Lions have plenty of questions on offense and must play the country’s best overall defense in terms of yards allowed per game – by 40 yards. Defensively, Michigan will be able to do everything that Iowa did and more against Penn State, so even a 100% healthy Trace McSorley won’t result in a victory for the visitors to the Big House.

My Pick: 30-17 Michigan

Dad’s Take: Michigan 27 Penn State 21. Wolverines are liking the top again – and “feeling” it.

#4 Notre Dame at Northwestern (Saturday, 7:15 PM ET)

The Notre Dame crowd is slowly but surely starting to get louder as the regular season’s end approaches and the Fighting Irish remain undefeated. But that same crowd is also known for crying the loudest about the perceived injustice of its team not getting the so-called “mulligan” that some Power 5 schools seemingly receive with regards to making the Playoff with a loss. Brian Kelly’s team gets no such mulligan, meaning that every game truly matters and the Fighting Irish need to win this trap game in order to remain in Playoff contention.

The Wildcats are riding a hot streak after beginning the season 1-3, reeling off four straight victories and assuming the top spot in the Big Ten West as of this week. Credit Pat Fitzgerald with keeping this team focused – many teams would have thrown in the towel after that kind of start, but the fact is that this team has been in every game this season and simply ran into some bad luck early. The Fighting Irish have put up gaudy numbers offensively since Ian Book took over at quarterback, but the numbers in this game may be modest. Northwestern’s bend but don’t break defensive style should provide enough stops to keep this one close. It’s just a feeling that the Wildcats will be able to do enough on their home soil to result in a rush of the field.

My Pick: 34-31 Northwestern

Dad’s Take: Northwestern 28 Notre Dame 27. THESE Wildcats pull off the upset AND have better GPAs…

#1 Alabama at #3 LSU (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

The media isn’t calling it the “Game of the Century” or something grossly presumptuous this time around, which is refreshing. For a change, it appears that everyone is simply in agreement that this rivalry game is extremely intriguing and should be wildly entertaining. Although some are already anointing the Crimson Tide this season’s national champion, Alabama has yet to play an opponent nearly as good as the Tigers and Tua Tagovialoa might be under the assumption that a college football game only lasts three quarters. This lack of previous adversity could be an issue for the Crimson Tide, which will definitely experience it at points in this game. LSU’s defensive secondary is extremely talented and Tagovialoa will surely be tested, perhaps even baited into throwing his first interception of the season.

What should have Alabama fans worried is how good LSU looked against Georgia a few weeks back. The Bulldogs are essentially Alabama lite, and the Tigers defense forced a Jake Fromm benching while the offense posted 275 rushing yards, over 100 more than Georgia has allowed to any other team this season. Ed Orgeron’s team has made a habit of exposing weaknesses this season, none of which the country is currently aware of when it comes to the Crimson Tide. That being said, it would be unwise to bet against the Tigers doing it again and making this one very, very close.

My Pick: 28-24 Alabama

Dad’s Take: Alabama 45 LSU 31. Tide is ready for this one. Alabama upset? Not this week.

5 Games to Flip To

#20 Texas A&M at Auburn (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

The Tigers have had a rough season and still have a couple of difficult games to play, yet are an unwelcome sight for anyone in the Top 25.

#16 Iowa at Purdue (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

The Hawkeyes couldn’t capitalize on a golden opportunity in Happy Valley last weekend and now face an uphill battle to assure a spot in the Big Ten title game. This one will be low scoring.

#15 Utah at Arizona State (Saturday, 4 PM ET)

The Pac-12 is a dog-eat-dog conference, which is why despite the difference in overall record, there isn’t much that separates these two teams.

#7 Oklahoma at Texas Tech (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

This is the weekend’s “Game Most Likely to Feature Absolutely No Defense”, and it will be fun.

California at #8 Washington State (Saturday, 10:45 PM ET)

The Golden Bears may never be “for real”, but the country waits with bated breath for the Saturday that Mike Leach’s team brings its C-game and gets upset. It happens nearly every season.

In the past, I’ve asked readers to let me know if they’d like to be guests on Around The Corn to make weekly college football picks. And while that invite still stands (email kbecks@aroundthecorn.com or message me on Facebook or Twitter if interested), the truth is that I’m basically asking friends and family on a weekly basis. Writing is a passion of mine, as is commenting on sports. But sharing those two passions with others are what has always made this worthwhile. So tell me what you think of the site and let me know what could be done better, or what would make you come back without prompting. I’d really appreciate it.

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