2023 NCAAF: Week 10 Preview

November 3, 2023

In the first head-to-head prediction matchup since 2019, Around The Corn came out on top, going a perfect 5-0 compared to Matt’s 3-2 showing.

If you chose to place a parlay bet on the predictions against the spread, you weren’t quite as happy with the performance. For the second time this season, such a wager would have missed by half a point on one of the legs.

This weekend, it’s unlikely to come that close. Week 10 is jam packed with big matchups that feel particularly difficult to predict. On the bright side, that should equate to plenty of viewing entertainment.

We’ve also turned the calendar to November, which is notoriously the month when all bets are off and college football reflects the unpredictability that fans crave.

Buckle up – the homestretch has arrived, and it’s never a smooth ride.

3 Things We Learned in Week 9

The Big 12 goes down first

With Oklahoma’s surprise loss to Kansas last weekend, the Big 12 became the first Power 5 conference to have no unbeaten teams remaining. While it isn’t the nail in the conference’s proverbial coffin, it ensures (at least temporarily) that its teams no longer control their own destiny with regards to making the College Football Playoff.

That can all change in a single week, of course – a pair of strong matchups this weekend (see below) may give the frontrunners another solid victory to add to the resumé.

North Carolina was fool’s gold

Breaking the nine-win barrier is proving to be really, really hard for Mack Brown and the Tar Heels. After a 6-0 start that saw the team briefly crack the Top 10, North Carolina has dropped back-to-back games against sub-.500 competition. Not only has it ceased any talk of a College Football Playoff berth, it has put the Tar Heels in danger of missing the ACC title game altogether.

Oregon (could be) the most complete team in the country

The Ducks have looked as good as any team on both sides of the ball, are led by a Heisman candidate at quarterback and frankly, were unlucky to lose to Washington a few weeks ago. Had Dan Lanning’s squad managed to win that game, it would have been hard to argue for any team save Ohio State having a better resumé up to this point.

When watching the Ducks, it is hard to deny the talent that exists. Beyond Bo Nix, the playmakers at the skill positions are electric and the defensive secondary is nasty. This first became apparent in the Colorado game, when Coach Prime’s boys were simply outclassed. The Committee seems to agree with this sentiment, making Oregon the top ranked one-loss team currently.

5 Games You Need to Watch This Weekend

#23 Kansas State at #7 Texas (Saturday, 12 PM ET – FOX)

The Wildcats come into this game having collectively outscored its last two opponents 82-3, and the Longhorns will presumably be without Quinn Ewers, who is week-to-week after suffering a shoulder injury against Houston last month. However, there is reason to believe that Texas will be just fine at home against this surging Kansas State team.

Backup Maalik Murphy was serviceable in his first start for the Longhorns, but one big name in particular still came away impressed. Optimism about the freshman signal caller aside, the Longhorns are one of the best in the country at stopping the run, something Kansas State’s previous two opponents (Houston and TCU) don’t do particularly well. This one should scare the Texas faithful, and for good reason, but the Longhorns should come away with the victory in Austin.   

My Pick: 38-35 Texas (does not cover -3.5 spread)

#12 Missouri at #2 Georgia (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET – CBS)

The CFP Committee gave Kirby Smart some free bulletin board material, ranking the Bulldogs second behind Ohio State in the inaugural Playoff rankings for the 2023 season. Georgia shouldn’t need any extra incentive to get up for this game. The Tigers are one of the biggest surprises in college football, rising to just outside the Top 10 after starting the season unranked. Quarterback Brady Cook and wide receiver Luther Burden III are two names to remember for Missouri – their production has been a major reason the Tigers have been one of the top passing offenses in the SEC.

Georgia will undoubtedly be the most talented defense that Missouri has faced this year and has generally done a good job defending the pass. The Tigers may look to make this one a track meet, as it did against LSU earlier in the year, but like the other Tigers, Georgia can play fast if it needs to do so. Smart & Co. won’t overlook the Tigers and will take care of business.

My Pick: 35-20 Georgia (covers -15 spread)

#9 Oklahoma at #22 Oklahoma State (Saturday, 3:30 PM ET – ABC)

Sadly, this will be the last guaranteed Battle of Bedlam for the foreseeable future, as these two will no longer be conference foes beginning in 2024. On the bright side, we get a matchup between Top 25 teams to close out a rivalry game that has been played every season since 1910. Dillon Gabriel played his worst game of the season in last weekend’s upset loss to Kansas, failing to throw for a single touchdown for the first time all year. That’s unlikely to happen again, as the Cowboys have allowed more passing touchdowns (17) than every team in the Big 12 except West Virginia.

To its credit, Oklahoma State has been incredibly resilient this season, reeling off four straight victories following back-to-back losses in mid-September. It would have been unthinkable two months ago that the Cowboys would be ranked in November, yet here we are. Unfortunately, the Cowboys have issues defensively and Oklahoma is as likely as any team to exploit them. As exciting and seemingly competitive as this rivalry has been, the Cowboys have won just three times in 20 years. The Sooners will close the long, unbroken chapter how it began over 100 years ago – with a victory.

My Pick: 44-31 Oklahoma (covers -6 spread)

#5 Washington at #20 Southern Cal (Saturday, 7:30 PM ET – ABC)

In the first edition of the CFP Committee’s rankings for 2023, the Pac-12 was left literally banging on the door to the party, with Washington and Oregon sitting as the first two teams out. It’s far too early for Huskies fans to be worried about all of that, though. While Kalen DeBoer’s team has passed all its tests so far, Washington has looked shaky recently against less than stellar Pac-12 competition. The Trojans have by no means looked like world beaters, either, but are in a perfect position to play spoiler here.

Neither team has looked particularly interested in playing a lot of defense this season, which should have both this year’s Heisman frontrunner (Michael Penix Jr.) and last year’s winner (Caleb Williams) seeing red. But for as potent as Washington has been offensively this season, it has been oddly unbalanced, averaging nearly four times as many passing yards per game as rushing yards. This is important, as the Trojans have found themselves in precarious positions this season primarily against teams that run the ball well. Both teams will score points in this one, but if Washington is unable to move the ball on the ground, Southern Cal could end up with a chance to win this one late.

My Pick: 48-45 Southern Cal (covers +3 spread)

#14 LSU at #8 Alabama (Saturday, 7:45 PM ET – CBS)

Preseason, this game was pegged as a “can’t miss” tilt that was likely to have Playoff implications. While this is still technically true, neither Alabama nor LSU has looked like one of the best teams in the country this season. The Crimson Tide have been incredibly inconsistent, resembling a team of two halves on several occasions, which is very unusual for a Nick Saban squad. LSU boasts the nation’s top offense on paper, but has been able to pad those figures against lesser competition and has generally been poor defensively against good teams.

Alabama’s passing game is certainly still a work in progress, but has been improving throughout the season and ultimately has done enough to secure victories. The Crimson Tide defense has been the real hero, though. Alabama’s defense slowing down Jayden Daniels may seem like asking for a miracle, but it is possible and on offense the run game can support by sustaining long drives and keeping the ball out of Daniels’ hands to begin with. It has been about results, not style, for Alabama this season and that will once again be the story if it is to win this game.  

My Pick: 27-24 Alabama (covers -3 spread)

5 Games to Keep an Eye On This Weekend

#1 Ohio State at Rutgers (Saturday, 12 PM ET – CBS)

The newly minted No. 1 team in the country travels to Piscataway to take on a Rutgers team enjoying a terrific season for its standards, already having secured bowl eligibility.

#15 Notre Dame at Clemson (Saturday, 12 PM ET – ABC)

Dabo Swinney’s rant from earlier this week elevates this game to rarified air – that where both sides will justify its relevance by referencing past success.

Texas A&M at #10 Mississippi (Saturday, 12 PM ET – ESPN)

One week from a potentially massive showdown with Georgia, can the Rebels avoid a Lane Kiffin Lapse?

Boise State at Fresno State (Saturday, 10 PM ET – CBS Sports Network)

As frustrating as this season has been for Boise State, the Broncos are still in the MWC title race but will seemingly need a victory over Fresno State to stay in the hunt.

#19 UCLA at Arizona (Saturday, 10:30 PM ET – FS1)

The Wildcats finally got their upset victory last weekend after coming tantalizingly close on multiple occasions earlier in the year, and will look to make it two in a row at home over Top 25 opponents.

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