2016 Week 10 NCAAF Weekend Preview

November 4, 2016

It’s getting real now, folks.

We have reached double digits in the 2016 college football season, and it also has the distinction of a few other beginnings. This weekend marks the first weekend of November football, which everyone knows is the month where the great teams emerge and the phonies whittle away. It is also the first week of the College Football Playoff rankings, which had some interesting twists on Tuesday evening. And lastly, but certainly not least, Week 10 is the return of mid-week MACtion football!

All of these new beginnings don’t mask the fact that we are already two months into the season, which means difficult games for even the best teams. Everyone has film on everyone, which makes games that wouldn’t have been interesting in September worth watching now.

As a result, the prediction game records could get ugly in the next four weeks. My Dad ended up going undefeated last weekend, but only sliced the gap by one game. The overall standings now look like this:

K. Becks: 30-15

Guests: 26-19

This week my buddy Andrew will join for the guests, and although he doesn’t know it until he reads this, we have a little bet on the line. If I beat him this weekend, he will finally agree that college football’s playoff system will not be complete until 8 teams make the tournament each season, with automatic bids to the champions of the Power 5 conferences.

You’re welcome, buddy.

Let’s take a look at the 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

#11 Florida at Arkansas (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

The SEC East Division is a mess (Tennessee with three losses, Kentucky in second) but coming into this game the Gators have a hold on first place. The offense hasn’t look great but the defense is the class of the conference. Arkansas prefers to win with offense, so this will be an interesting battle.

As poor as Florida’s offense has looked this season, statistically it isn’t that far behind the Razorbacks, which is kind of scary. The Gators don’t throw the ball as well as Arkansas but hang onto the ball better (15 turnovers to 10) and can chew yards up on the ground when needed. In order for the Razorbacks to pull off the upset, the offensive line will need to step up in a big way to protect Austin Allen. Florida is third in the conference in sacks and Allen has been previously pummeled by the two teams ahead of the Gators in the SEC. If the Gators can put pressure on the quarterback, they’ll have a lot of success defensively.

While many are pegging this as an upset waiting to happen, I’m not buying into the Razorbacks after getting burned taking them in the Auburn game. Florida’s defense is Playoff worthy and the offense won’t limit them enough to squander this winnable game.

My Pick: 24-16 Florida

Andrew’s Take: Hopefully the bye week will help Arkansas recover from the 59-3 hammering they received from Auburn two weeks ago.  I think that Florida’s defense will just be too much for the Razorbacks. I’ve got the Gators over Bielema and the Razorbacks, 28-10.

Iowa at #12 Penn State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

Since beating Ohio State at home two weekends ago, Penn State has climbed the rankings rapidly and finds itself in a position to potentially crack the Top 10 next week. But first, the Nittany Lions must get through a tricky matchup against Iowa, which is still fighting to get back to the top of the Big Ten West Division.

Although neither team has been overly potent on offense this season, the Nittany Lions have received a spark from quarterback Trace McSorley that Christian Hackenberg was never quite able to provide. McSorley hasn’t thrown an interception since the Michigan game in late September and is leading a passing attack that has, quite surprisingly, been the weight-bearer of the Penn State offense this season. Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, pass defense has been the bane of the defense in 2016. McSorley’s accuracy leaves something to be desired, but as long as he continues to make good decisions it will be hard for Iowa to force needed turnovers.

Iowa was the team at the beginning of the season with the Big Ten title dreams, but it’s the Nittany Lions that appear to be set up for a November run. That being said, am I the only one that thinks No. 12 is a bit high for a team that was trounced by Michigan just one game before beating Ohio State? Iowa keeps the Nittany Lions in check offensively and pulls off the upset.

My Pick: 16-10 Iowa

Andrew’s Take: Penn State has one of the best home field advantages in the country, especially at night. The Nittany Lions seem like a completely different team since their 49-10 loss to Michigan. If Kirk Ferentz was spending more of his time preparing his team for the upcoming game this week instead of continuing to laugh to himself and his agent about how he somehow fooled Iowa into giving him another contract extension then I would’ve chosen the Hawkeyes to upset at Beaver Stadium. Instead I’m picking Penn State to win this one, 24-10.

#1 Alabama at #13 LSU (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

It isn’t quite the Game of the Century that some predicted at the beginning of the season would transpire, but Ed Orgeron has once again righted what was a sinking ship before he took over. The Tigers will have Leonard Fournette back and the game is being played at Death Valley, so nothing is certain for the No. 1 team in the country in this one.

Since Orgeron has come in, the Tigers have returned to the form we expected from a team with so much talent on the defensive side of the ball. LSU has always had the personnel capable of containing an offense like Alabama’s, but only recent has the team played like it. However, it’s the offensive performances over the last three games that should give Tigers fans hope. Even though the performances came against Missouri, Southern Miss and Ole Miss, the Tigers had their three best offensive showings of the season in their last three contests. The Crimson Tide have been far and away the most impressive defense in the country this season, but LSU looks poised to challenge it.

This game will be the toughest test to date for Jalen Hurts, who has been solid for the Crimson Tide but not heavily leaned upon to lead the team in big moments. The Tigers have had a tough season already but have played inspired football under Orgeron, who has a habit of getting the most out of players that could really go either way after a previous head coach is let go. I think the Crimson Tide will be slightly better in this one, but people to question them just a bit after it.

My Pick: 31-27 Alabama

Andrew’s Take: As far as consistency this season, there has been Alabama and then there’s everyone else. It’s brutal to play a night game in Death Valley but the Nick Saban is going to have is team ready to play especially after coming off of a bye. This will be the first game that Leonard Fournette breaks over 100 rushing yards against Alabama, but I’m picking the Crimson Tide to come out of  Baton Rouge with the victory. Alabama 33-17.

#10 Nebraska at #6 Ohio State (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

The only Top 10 battle this weekend takes place in Columbus, Ohio, where the Buckeyes will look to shake off a couple of mediocre performances against a Nebraska team that just barely missed keeping its perfect record intact against Wisconsin on the road. It’s hard to believe that this game had a 17-point spread as of Friday afternoon.

Ohio State looked like it was rolling offensively through the first four games, then Indiana came along and provided film that every team has used since to decode the Buckeyes. No longer is J.T. Barrett whipping the ball around like a Heisman Trophy candidate. Without a true deep threat, teams have come up to stop the short stuff and put an end to Mike Weber’s easy running lanes. Barrett’s completion percentage has fallen to just 60 percent and he has thrown for just three touchdowns to two interceptions since the Indiana game. Nebraska’s defense gives up fewer than 350 yards per contest, so it could be another frustrating week offensively for the Buckeyes.

If Ohio State wants to avoid a loss that would end all chances of a Playoff bid, the defense will need to carry the torch. Tommy Armstrong Jr. returned to his old form in the month of October, which is bad news for the Cornhuskers. If the Ohio State secondary can bait Armstrong into making bad decisions, the Buckeyes will win a close one because the offense will continue to struggle.

My Pick: 28-20 Ohio State

Andrew’s Take: Hopefully Tim Beck can finally get his offense rolling again after a sluggish game against Northwestern where J.T. Barrett recorded his first ever game without being responsible for a TD. Nebraska played in a hard fought overtime loss in Madison last week and I’m curious to see if Mike Riley can get his team back on the path towards Indianapolis and the Big Ten title game. I just think the night game in The Shoe will be too much for the Huskers, Ohio State pulls it out 38-24.

#5 Washington at California (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET)

Somehow the Huskies were left out of the initial top four in the College Football Playoff rankings, which should only fuel the fire that is currently burning in Seattle. Cal will be an interesting matchup for the Huskies because if nothing else, they play completely different styles of football.

Washington’s defense is actually not the Pac-12’s top overall in terms of total yards allowed per game, a distinction that is currently bestowed upon Colorado. But the Huskies do have the conference’s best pass defense, which is particularly important in this contest. Davis Webb, a former Texas Tech quarterback, has been able to do the same thing in Sonny Dykes’s offense that he did in Lubbock – throw, throw and throw some more. Unfortunately for the Golden Bears, even if they do score some points (which is likely to happen), it will pale in comparison to the points Washington is able to score. Cal has the No. 125 run defense and is downright awful on that side of the football. It isn’t like the Huskies are anemic on offense, either. Their quarterback is a potential Heisman Trophy candidate right now.

This game is worth watching due to the fact that it’s the nightcap on Saturday and both teams are able to score at will if given the opportunity. The problem for the Golden Bears is that they won’t be given the chance to score at will. Since this is a road game I don’t expect a complete blowout, but the Huskies should win this one handily.

My Pick: 42-28 Washington

Andrew’s Take: Chris Petersen is one of the best coaches currently in college football. His amazing tenure at Boise State is one of the reasons why the NCAA abandoned the BCS system and adopted the four team college football playoff (anybody that tells you that an eight team playoff system is superior is downright foolish). Washington wins this one big 52-21.

5 Games to Flip To

Navy vs. Notre Dame [game in Jacksonville] (Saturday, 11:30 PM ET)

It was going to look weird to see Navy as the team ranked in the Top 25 here, but then the Midshipmen lost to South Florida last week. Regardless, this one should be very close.

#7 Louisville at Boston College (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

The Cardinals nearly lost to Virginia last weekend and Steve Addazio’s team plays until the final whistle. This won’t be an easy victory for Louisville.

Texas at Texas Tech (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

Both teams have been somewhat of a disappointment this season, but both have also shown the capability to play very competitive football. Lots of points will be scored in this rivalry game and either one could win.

#8 Wisconsin at Northwestern (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

The Badgers may be the best two loss team in the country but will face a difficult opponent on the road, yet again, this weekend.

Georgia Tech at #21 North Carolina (Saturday, 12:30 PM ET)

The Tar Heels are tied for the Atlantic Division lead but are not yet out of the woods, sharing the spot with Virginia Tech, which beat North Carolina earlier this season.

If you would like to become a guest prognosticator like Andrew 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.

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