2013 NCAAF Week 10 Weekend Preview

November 1, 2013

It figures that once the college football season really begins to heat up, my lead in the head-to-head prediction game begins to disappear.

Zach managed to go undefeated last week, closing the gap by two more games. The overall records now stand:

K. Becks: 30-15

Guests: 27-18

With six more weeks remaining in the regular season, it appears as though it will be a dogfight to the end. Not what I would have preferred after such a large advantage just two weeks ago, but I guess it’s more fun this way.

This week, my buddy Neil Seguin will represent the guests and try to keep their streak of two straight weeks of beating me alive for a third week.

Here is a list of my top five games to watch this weekend, as well as five more to keep an eye on.

5 Games to Pay Attention to This Weekend

#22 Wisconsin at Iowa (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

When Wisconsin travels to Iowa City to take on the Hawkeyes, we’ll be watching a game between the only two teams to give Ohio State a scare at home this season. Each team has been in every game this season, and the Badgers are just nine points from being currently unbeaten. Iowa could be a difficult test for the Badgers, though, thanks to an improved defense.

The Badgers, other than losing a controversial game at Arizona State and a tough one on the road to Ohio State, haven’t appeared to miss a beat since losing former head coach Bret Bielema to Arkansas. New head man Gary Andersen, a defensive minded coach, has Wisconsin at its usual perch near the top of the defensive statistical categories in the Big Ten. The Badgers are second overall in total defense, surrendering just 285 yards per contest. However, Wisconsin will need its offense to show up on the road to win this one. Kirk Ferentz might be fighting for his job this season, but is making a decent case for keeping it so far thanks to the fact that the Hawkeyes are once again a feisty defensive squad.

Wisconsin should be able to win this game if it can grind it out on the ground, as the run defense is one area where the Hawkeyes are a bit soft. The Badgers, not surprisingly, lead the Big Ten in rushing yards per game. Assuming the Hawkeyes don’t come out playing like their hair is on fire, Wisconsin will win this one in methodical fashion.

My Pick: 31-21 Wisconsin

Neil’s Take: I really don’t see the Fighting Kirk Ferentz’s putting up too much of a fight here. Wisco will win when they’re supposed to win- especially against physically weaker opponents. Abbrederis still gives Bradley Roby nightmares…

Wisco 35 Iowa 24

#23 Michigan at #24 Michigan State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

The annual battle for the Paul Bunyan Trophy will take place on Saturday afternoon, and although the Wolverines have a lopsided lead in the overall series (68-32-5 in favor of Michigan), the Spartans have won four of the last five contests, including the previous two played in East Lansing. Based on the perception of each team right now, this one should be a game worth watching in its entirety.

Michigan State is in the driver’s seat to win the Big Ten Legends Division, and there is one reason why: the defense. The Spartans are the No. 1 team in the Big Ten in every major defensive statistical category. Granted, some of those numbers may be inflated by the fact that Michigan State has faced almost inclusively the bottom of the Big Ten so far. The overall record of FBS teams the Spartans have beaten? Try 15-31. The lone victory over an FBS squad with a winning record this year came against Iowa.

You’d think that was a lead-in for my pick of the Wolverines…but not so fast, my friend. Michigan has struggled on the road this season, and not against the best competition, either (Connecticut and Penn State). I think that the crowd will do a lot to shift the momentum in this game, and the Spartans will get stops on defense when they need it most. This will be a physical, low scoring game, which plays right into Mark Dantonio’s hands.

Oh, and P.S., I agree with you, Taylor.

My Pick: 20-17 Michigan State

Neil’s Take: After that Penn State “Special-Needs Special-Teams” challenge in Happy Valley, I don’t trust The Hugh Jackman’s as far as I can throw them. MSU is taking an undefeated ride through the conference with the only stumble being against the Fighting Frenchmen of Notre Dame, the same team UM beat. Of these were rivalry games for these teams, and UM stepped up. The UM-MSU rivalry is actually a lot bigger to these fan bases and players (currently) than the OSU-UM rivalry (a fact Buckeye fans live blissfully oblivious to because of the truckloads of lore associated with the whole thing in Columbus), so I think Michigan will pull it out in the end.

Taylor Glancey would like to point out that he doesn’t think Devin Gardner is that good of a quarterback.

Michigan 34 MSU 21

Georgia vs. Florida [in Jacksonville] (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Despite all of the misfortune that has bestowed on both of these teams with regards to injuries, the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party still has significant bearing on the SEC East title race. Neither Georgia nor Florida is out of the race yet, but a loss here pretty much cooks you. As a result, expect this game to be full of big hits and emotions.

You have to feel a bit bad for Georgia. The Bulldogs looked like one of the better, and definitely most tested, teams in the nation through five weeks. But injuries to pretty much all of the offensive skill players not named Aaron Murray doomed Mark Richt’s team against Missouri, who the country would soon find out was a pretty good squad itself. The loss to Vanderbilt was surprising, but probably a result of the hangover effect as much as anything else. The Bulldogs went from one-loss title contender to unranked afterthought in a matter of two weeks.

Florida has also been bitten by the injury bug, but had really been fighting the school of thought that the Gators were overrated to begin with. Now that they’re no longer ranked, no one is riding them anymore. Unfortunately, that may have been where Florida’s motivation was coming from, and they’ll need that motivation back this weekend to beat Georgia. The Bulldogs may be hurt, but they can still score a lot of points. With Todd Gurley back, I think Mark Richt’s squad will finally get back on the winning track in what has been a disappointing 2013 campaign.

My Pick: 33-17 Georgia

Neil’s Take: The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party will be won by Georgia. Aaron Murray and a running back named Gurley (plus a couple other serviceable backs) will enjoy putting on a show in Jacksonville to give their ho-hum season a bit of meaning with the W.

Georgia 30 Florida 21

#18 Oklahoma State at #17 Texas A&M (Saturday, 7 PM ET)

With last week’s tough loss at the hands of the Oklahoma Sooners, Texas Tech’s quest for a Big 12 title under Kliff Kingbury became an uphill battle. This is true not only because the Red Raiders no longer sit atop the conference standings, but because of the difficult games that lie ahead. The second of consecutive demanding tests against the Oklahoma schools takes place this weekend when the Cowboys of Oklahoma State come to town.

I was actually very impressed with the way that Texas Tech battled in Norman, not letting the Sooners run away with the victory without a fight. That attitude, which is undoubtedly a reflection of Coach Kingsbury’s intensity, should serve the Red Raiders well in this matchup. I do not think that Texas Tech will suffer from any kind of hangover effect this week, and the team may in fact come out with a chip on their collective shoulder in this one. The passing game was still humming against Oklahoma’s formerly No. 1 rated pass defense, and this week Baker Mayfield & Co. takes on a pass defense that is nearly as good.

If Texas Tech can find a way to slow down Oklahoma State’s offense just a little bit, the Red Raiders should be able to stay in the hunt for the Big 12 crown. The offense will score a lot of points, that’s almost a given. It’s simply going to be a matter of whether or not the defense can hold the opponent to a little less.

My Pick: 45-42 Texas Tech

Neil’s Take: Both teams have one loss and can’t afford another league defeat. Oklahoma State comes off a solid tune-up win over everyone’s punching bag ISU and Texas Tech took one on the chin from the big, bad Sooners. I like a hungry team at home, playing to stay in the conversation at the end of the season, so I’ve got to go with the Red Raiders in this one.

Texas Tech 21 Oklahoma State 18

#7 Miami at #3 Florida State (Saturday, 8 P ET)

Thanks to the boys from Tallahassee looking so dominant this season, it’s safe to say that every state in the country, including Florida, has the same general opinion about the Miami Hurricanes. That opinion would be “it’s just a matter of time before someone comes along and beats them”. Some credit needs to be given to the Hurricanes for making it this far, as they’ve been involved in three games decided by less than seven points. But the real credit could come from a victory over the rival Seminoles, whose bandwagon is getting heavier by the week.

On one hand, Miami is the best team defensively that Florida State has faced all season. The Hurricanes are balanced defensively, which is where the team has made the most significant improvement over last year’s squad. This weekend we may get a chance to see just how good Jameis Winston really is (I know how ridiculous that sounds) when he goes up against a defense that doesn’t resemble Swiss cheese. Before this weekend, the best defense Florida State will have gone up against is Pittsburgh’s. Really.

I’m not saying that this game is going to be close. Florida State seems to have the ability to rip apart the Hurricanes just like it has every other opponent. But Miami has been finding ways to win games even when it doesn’t play well. A victory in this game would have to make you think that there is something special about the 2013 Hurricanes. I think because of the defensive strength of both teams, this game will be fairly low scoring, which is a win for Miami. Florida State will emerge victorious on scoreboard, though.

My Pick: 24-10 Florida State

Neil’s Take: This is one of those games that football fans are giddy for. Anyone who has seen Florida State play this fall has seen some scary offense and a defense to match. Famous Jameis looks like a legitimate, balanced and heady quarterback – and I love his off-field persona and leadership qualities. After the performance/clinic against Clemson it’s just foolish to pick against this team, the weapons and style they have cultivated are looking better each week. The game being in Tallahassee basically seals this one in favor of the Seminoles and a convincing win might leapfrog them back above Oregon.

FSU 45 Miami 28

5 Games to Flip To

Southern California at Oregon State (Friday, 9 PM ET)

A little Friday night football is always worth watching, especially when it’s on the West Coast and won’t start until later in the night.

Minnesota at Indiana (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Two feel-good stories this year in the otherwise boring Big Ten. Both teams may end up making a bowl game, and both teams have a surprisingly exciting offense.

Navy at Notre Dame (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Notre Dame is still gunning for a potential BCS bowl, but it will be interesting to see if Navy’s triple option offense gives the Fighting Irish any trouble.

Northwestern at Nebraska (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Which underachieving, reeling Big Ten squad will be able to capture a much needed win in this game?

#8 Auburn at Arkansas (Saturday, 6 PM ET)

This is exactly the kind of game that Arkansas can use to shock the nation.

If you would like to become a guest prognosticator like Neil did this week, please let me know in one of the following ways: email me at kbecks@aroundthecorn.com, send me a message on Around The Corn’s Facebook page, post a comment under this article or send me a tweet @KBecks_ATC. Opportunities to become a guest prognosticator will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Thanks everyone.

– K. Becks

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