2017 Week 10 NCAAF Weekend Preview

November 3, 2017

Now that the World Series has concluded and we have College Football Playoff rankings to talk about, the gridiron has officially taken center stage in the sports world.

But before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s be reminded that nothing has been settled yet.

Firstly, teams that have played each other (Georgia and Notre Dame, Oklahoma and Ohio State, Ohio State and Penn State) are clumped together closer than dandelions in a field. And like Roundup, the pressure of November football will kill off that phenomenon faster than you can say “Alabama is No. 2 behind who?”

Secondly, half these teams will have to play each other before the Playoff. Saban vs. Saban disciple in the SEC title game? Badger/Buckeye showdown in Indy? Catholics vs. Convicts 2017?

The first rankings mean nothing. Never have, and never will, because eventually we’re going to eight teams and people will simply take mental notes of who is going to the conference title games. Yea, I’m still on that bandwagon. Wanna fight about it?

What the rankings do give us, though, is a sense that most of the games featuring Top 10 teams matter quite a bit. We’ve got a hell of a weekend coming up, one in which my buddy Colin will look to keep the guests on top in the head-to-head prediction game. My cheek clapping friend follows a 3-2 performance by @BigRedTweeter in which the gap did not change. Overall, the year-to-date records look like this:

K. Becks – 28-17

Guests – 32-13

Let’s take a look at games to watch this weekend.

5 Games to Pay Attention to This Weekend

#7 Penn State at #24 Michigan State (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

It wouldn’t be surprising at all if the Nittany Lions suffered from a major case of WDGAS (figure it out for yourselves) after blowing an 18 point lead in the fourth quarter against the Buckeyes last weekend. While I don’t remember exactly what transpired during that game, I’ve been told that Penn State essentially played not to lose down the stretch. Welcome to late season pressure, gentlemen. Now that James Franklin’s team doesn’t have to worry about the undefeated record, all bets are off with regards to what the Penn State offense can achieve. Michigan State has the Big Ten’s best run defense, but Penn State has shown in the past two games that it can score a lot of points even when Saquon Barkley doesn’t rack up a ton of yards.

The Spartans were beginning to climb up the rankings amidst a five game winning streak, but that was halted quite abruptly by a 38-31 loss to Northwestern last weekend. Michigan State has to smell blood, though. The Nittany Lions are coming off of an emotional rollercoaster of a game and now must go on the road again to face yet another strong defense. If not for a few bad special teams plays and a questionable call in the end zone, the Buckeyes may have easily taken care of Penn State. The Spartans won’t run away with anything, but I think Penn State understands how detrimental the loss last week was to its Playoff chances. That could have a huge effect in this one.

My Pick: 20-17 Michigan State

Colin’s Take: Penn State wishes it could “white out” its memory from last week’s epic choke job against Ohio State. Best way to do this is coming out strong against Michigan State in East Lansing. I do think Saquon Barkley has a bounce back game and rushes for 100+ yards. However, that turtle with no shell looking coach James Franklin has never beaten a ranked team on the road…and the Spartans come in ranked 24th. But unfortunately that glorious stat breaks this weekend. PSU 34 MSU 20

#6 Clemson at #20 North Carolina State (Saturday, 12 PM ET)

I’d love to be able to paint former Boise State recruit Ryan Finley’s team in a better light, because he is the real deal, but the Wolfpack proved last weekend that they are a step below the elite in college football this season. North Carolina State had no answer for Brandon Wimbush and the running game last weekend, allowing three total touchdowns to the athletic beast of a quarterback and 318 yards total on the ground. The problem for the Dave Doeran’s team in this one is that the Tigers have athletes all over the field – more so than the Fighting Irish. The Syracuse game has all the looks of a fluke loss for Clemson, which has allowed just one quarterback (last year’s Heisman winner) to throw for over 300 yards on its defense this season.

If Finley is to be the linchpin in an upset of the defending national champs, he’ll need help from somewhere else. He is only a future average NFL quarterback, after all. The defensive line didn’t do its job last weekend, and Nyheim Hines left the game after his third rushing attempt with an injury. If Hines is back, maybe he could be the guy. But to win this game, the Wolfpack would need to engage in a shootout just as Syracuse did a few weeks back. Hines being on wouldn’t make that happen, and I just don’t get the sense that this team is cut out for that kind of battle.

My Pick: 34-23 Clemson

Colin’s Take: Clemson is tough to judge this year. I do think Dabo is a good coach, but for whatever reason, he couldn’t handle that Syracuse 2-3 zone weeks ago. I do think Clemson will continue to improve and beat the Wolfpack this week. Also, who is NC State’s quarterback right now? Because most likely he’ll turn out to be an average NFL quarterback in the future. Clemson 42 NC State 17

#8 Oklahoma at #11 Oklahoma State (Saturday, 4 PM ET)

The Battle of Bedlam was moved up this season due to the Big 12’s assumption that these two would likely end up in the Big 12 title game in December, and we don’t play Legs in American football like those pansies across the pond! Things kind of backfired, as this game generally feels less important than it did when it was played during Rivalry Week in years past. But more than that is the fact that TCU may break up the party, rendering this schedule adjustment pretty much useless.

Neither team appears to have hit its stride at this point in the season, but there is the potential that the final score could resemble a basketball game. Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph will be playing the football equivalent of P.I.G. all game long, which should provide a pretty lengthy highlight reel full of touchdown passes and fist pumps. The team that manages to make one of them look average is the team that wins. I’ve got to go with the Sooners in this one, because they’ve already proven that going on the road isn’t a problem. The Cowboys have played just one team still ranked in the Top 25, at home against TCU, and lost a shootout.

My Pick: 52-44 Oklahoma

Colin’s Take: First of all, the Big 12 is cheeks (definition-adjective-to suck so bad that it creates an inconvenience for many). Second, it is so difficult to go against Mike Gundy. He’s a man. He’s 50. And he has a mullet that is approaching Dog the Bounty Hunter legendary status. But I think that little Baker will ultimately rally the troops and be too much for OK State’s defense. This will be high scoring though, because like the conference itself, Big 12 defenses are also cheeks. Oklahoma 50 OK State 41

#13 Virginia Tech at #8 Miami (FL) (Saturday, 8 PM ET)

I was going to start this section off mentioning how this Miami football team reminded me last week of a certain national title winner from this century that made a habit of giving its fans a heart attack throughout the regular season, but this team is nothing like that Buck…unnamed squad. The Hurricanes have won three games this season against teams with a winning record – Georgia Tech, Toledo and Arkansas State. They have also single digit victories over 1-8 North Carolina, 2-5 Florida State and 4-4 Syracuse. The rush defense – typical of Mark Richt coached teams – is a weak spot, which will be taken advantage of this game. Simply put, this is not a Top 10 football team.

Virginia Tech is exactly the type of team to expose Miami. In other words, a good team, and the first that the Hurricanes have had to play this season. The Hokies are balanced offensively, stout defensively and take care of the football. Turnover margin is where Miami has made its hay this season, but Justin Fuentes’s team won’t give the Hurricanes much to work with. If Virginia Tech plays within itself this Saturday evening, it will feel like the Hokies are in control the entire game.

My Pick: 27-17 Virginia Tech

Colin’s Take: VT has been quietly routing a good amount of opponents this season. I’m not buying into the hype with The U just yet. So I do predict that VT will bust The U like Willis McGahee’s knee in the 2002 National Championship Game. The Hokies won’t chokies and The U will look like poo. VT 24 The U 14

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

What Alabama booster paid off the Playoff Committee to vote the Crimson Tide at No. 2 in the rankings? He could care less, after all, which means that he was watching and likely rubbing is palms together and cackling softly as he thought about how easy it would be to motivate his team this week. That last sentence was pretty long, but it started with a grammar joke, kids.

I’m done with those. But what I’m not done doing is talking about how Alabama is going to destroy LSU in this game. The Crimson Tide didn’t need a reason to prove something to the country, but the Committee gave them one anyway. Remember how we all viewed the Tigers after the Troy loss on Homecoming weekend in Baton Rouge? That perception will return come late Saturday night when this game is over. Alabama has the SEC’s best rushing offense and defense, which will roll over the LSU defense and stifle its offense, respectively. The Tide will be back to No. 1 next Tuesday evening.

My Pick: 31-13 Alabama

Colin’s Take: Fact: Nick Saban always looks like he just drank a glass of pee. But that’s not the only reason I’m picking LSU to pull of the mammoth upset on Saturday. I also thought Ed Orgeron should have won an Oscar for his performance in the movie The Blind Side. Damn he has a great voice. But yes, I am picking Bama to choke at home against the Tigers. Call me crazy, call me bold, but roll tears roll. LSU 34 Bama 31

p.s the SEC is also cheeks

5 Games to Flip To

#14 Iowa State at West Virginia (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

The nation’s best two loss team travels to Morgantown on Saturday afternoon, where I think there’s a pretty good chance it becomes the nation’s best three loss team.

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

Iowa lost to Penn State on the last play of the game. Ohio State beat Penn State by one point in the game’s final minutes. So by the transitive property, this game ends in a tie in overtime. That doesn’t make sense and I’m bad at math theorems, but this game should be interesting.

#18 Stanford at #25 Washington State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET)

If it’s true that the Pac-12 is so competitive that it has cannibalized itself out of a Playoff bid, then in a different league this could have been a matchup between Top 10 teams! If, you know, you subscribe to that theory.

#15 Central Florida at SMU (Saturday, 7:15 PM ET)

Rumor is that Blake Bortles remains the starter in Jacksonville only as long as the Knights remain undefeated this season.

#23 Arizona at #17 Southern California (Saturday, 10:45 PM ET)

See Stanford/Washington State game above. And add Sam Darnold being a Heisman contender. But then take that away, because even in a different league Sam Darnold isn’t a Heisman contender.

If you would like to become a guest prognosticator like Colin 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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