This week marks the beginning of the College Football Playoff rankings. Whereas before we used the AP Poll as the ranking system for our teams, we will now be deferring to the CFP poll for the rest of the season – seeing as that determines what will be the national championship game.
Last week, we saw Michigan reclaim the Paul Bunyan trophy, a huge upset in the Big 12 by the hands of Kansas State. Additionally, Georgia spoiled the Florida’s ‘Cocktail Party’, Tennessee kept rolling, and Ohio State escaped Happy Valley with a win.
This week, we have a healthy serving of rivalry games – with three of them featuring in our games of the week picks. Notre Dame serves as the final chance in the regular season for a team to down Clemson, Kansas State hopes to keep their winning streak alive, Wake Forest looks to bounce back against an NC State team in limbo, and Alabama looks to beat the Bayou Bengals in ‘Death Valley.
It all leads to our Game of the Week. No. 1 versus No. 3 in an SEC East matchup that could have seismic impacts on the College Football Playoff.
Welcome to Week 10 of the college football season. Here are the Dailymail.com picks for games to keep an eye on…
Georgia welcomes Tennessee to play ‘Between the Hedges’ in our Game of the Week
- No. 20 Syracuse Orange (6-2) @ Pittsburgh Panthers (4-4) (Saturday at 3:30 ET / ACC Network / Acrisure Stadium, Pittsburgh, PA) Rivarly Game No. 1: To call Syracuse’s loss last week against Notre Dame a beatdown would be slightly inaccurate because of how inept the Orange were. QB Garrett Shrader was pulled due to injury, but performed horridly up to that point. ‘Cuse lost yet another player after star CB Garrett Williams went out for the season with a torn ACL – the FIFTH defensive starter to miss the rest of the year. A loss this weekend will surely drop Syracuse out of the top-25 and back to obscurity and unfortunately, they have to travel to rivals Pittsburgh – a team they haven’t beaten on the road since 2001.
- Florida State Seminoles (5-3) @ Miami Hurricanes (4-4) (Saturday at 7:30 ET / ABC / Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL) Rivalry Game No. 2: Neither team has played up to expectations this season. FSU had their best win back in Week 1 against LSU thanks to a blocked PAT. Meanwhile, Miami’s best win came last week against Virginia – after they’d lost four of their last five. So, why do we put this here? These two teams hate each other and they have history. Think of this as an digestif after an afternoon of intense college football action. Or, if you want to turn away from Game 4 of our GOTW series to something less intense, choose this. No offense to fans of either team, but the return of this being a must-see rivalry has to wait.
- No. 18 Oklahoma State Cowboys (6-2) @ Kansas Jayhawks (5-3) (Saturday @ 3:30 ET / FS1/ David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, KS) Personally, I never thought I’d be writing about the Jayhawks again, yet here we are. Kansas looked doomed for the season after QB Jalon Daniels went down with a serious shoulder injury that could have ended his year. However, reports say he’s back and practicing. After dropping three straight games, what better a way to try and claw back into the top-25 by knocking out an Oklahoma State team on its heels after a 48-0 massacre at the hands of Kansas State last weekend.
Game 1: No. 21 Wake Forest Demon Deacons (6-2) @ No. 22 North Carolina State Wolfpack (6-2)
- Sat @ 8:00 (ACC Network) / Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC
Here’s rivalry game No. 3 and it features two teams in vastly different situations, despite their close ranking.
What happened to Wake Forest last week requires a word stronger than humiliation, desecration, or an abomination when they lost to the hapless Louisville Cardinals by a 48-21 scoreline.
The normally unflappable Demon Deacons QB Sam Hartman was charged with three interceptions and tossed 271 yards. Wake’s defense held the Cardinals to 199 passing yards, but at the same time, they gave up 211 rushing yards – with junior RB Tiyon Evans getting 106 of those yards on just 11 carries.
Those 211 yards are the second most they’ve given up all season behind the 215 Wake gave up to Army. However, for those unaware of the Army Black Knights’ system, they basically only run the football all game. They were able to hold the run-heavy Clemson Tigers offense to just 188 yards rushing in their double OT loss earlier this season.
Wake lost what should’ve been an easy game while NC State has quarterback uncertainty
They’re going to look to rebound against a NC State team that’s been holding onto their spot in the top-25 after losing their best offensive weapon for the season.
After going down against the Seminoles of Florida State, QB Devin Leary was ruled out for the season. With transfer QB Jack Chambers, the Pack couldn’t get things done against the Syracuse Orange in the Dome. The next week, after Chambers couldn’t produce, NC State looked to Carrollton, GA freshman MJ Morris – who promptly threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns to beat Virginia Tech by one point.
This week will see teams in two different places. One is a Wake team that just did not execute well in their last game and is looking for a comeback. The other is a NC State team that isn’t sure who to turn to to lead their offense. It’s a win-or-drop-out situation for both teams, so it’ll be important to see who hangs on.
The Pack rolled with freshman QB MJ Morris last week, making this week’s starter a question
Game 2: No. 24 Texas Longhorns (5-3) @ No. 13 Kansas State Wildcats (6-2)
- Saturday @ 7:000 ET (FS1) / Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Manhattan, KS
In football there are murders, there are slaughters, there are humiliations that are so horrible they alter the perception of a college football program.
And then there’s what Kansas State did to Oklahoma State last weekend.
A 48-0 shutout of a top 10 team is one of if not the best wins for this Wildcats program in this century. As we mentioned last week, it was the first time a ranked Kansas State beat a top 10 team at home in 22 years. They did so by preventing almost any productive offense from happening, as we predicted last week by saying the Cowboy offense vs. the Wildcat defense would be the matchup to watch.
Consider that before this game, the least amount of offensive yards Oklahoma State had was 379 in total and only 213 passing yards. Last week, K-State held them to a TOTAL of 217 – with only 163 passing yards. All this while Kansas State’s offense ran up 495 total yards and 296 passing yards.
What makes that even more impressive is that Kansas State starting QB Adrian Martinez was ruled out of the game with an injury. In his place stepped Downingtown, Penn. junior Will Howard – who threw all 296 of those passing yards and four touchdowns. RB Deuce Vaughn also had an amazing day with 158 yards on 22 carries with a touchdown to boot.
Kansas State had to go to backup quarterback Will Howard, but they walked out victorious
Meanwhile, Texas is coming off a bye week with their last game being a loss to the very same Oklahoma State team the Wildcats just beat down.
Once again, this game all hinges on who K-State’s defense matches up with. Texas isn’t excellent in one specific offensive facet – both their passing and running game are middle of the pack in the Big 12. Yet together, the two offensive attacks combine for the fourth best total offense in the conference.
If Texas wants to exploit a specific part of the Wildcats’ defense, it’s their run game. For being a mid-table team for rushing stats in the Big 12, it’s not helpful that Kansas State is coming up against RB Bijan Robinson – a player considered one of the most NFL-ready rushers in the college game today.
At the same time, Kansas State only allows 17.1 points per game to Texas’s 21.1 PPG. If this game is anything like last week – and Kansas State beats the Longhorns down badly, they could have a case for sliding up to the top-ten.
Will Howard put Kansas State on his back last week and after their dominating 48-0 win over Oklahoma State, they carried him out on their shoulders
Game 3: No. 4 Clemson Tigers (8-0) @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-3)
- Saturday at 7:30 (NBC) / Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, IN
Many were surprised that the CFP committee chose Clemson as the final team in the top four, with the Tigers hopping over Michigan. While they are undefeated, it’s hard to say that they’ve looked as good against their opponents as the Wolverines have.
Regardless of whether or not they’re deserving, the choice of the committee set Clemson on an easy path to the CFP semifinals if the Tigers can win out. Their remaining schedule beyond this game are games against Louisville, Miami, and South Carolina – all at home. Winning out will likely see them best Syracuse for top record in the ACC Atlantic division and will probably have the Tigers play North Carolina in the conference title game.
If there’s any stumbling blocks in the way of the Tigers, it’s this weekend. The team with any true hope of putting Clemson back out of the top-four is Notre Dame.
The Irish have had a rocky season to say the least. Their opening night loss to Ohio State showed their defense was strong, but they followed that up with an embarrassing loss to Marshall. They’ve knocked off a pair of 16 seeds in BYU and Syracuse, but immediately following that BYU win, they fell to a Stanford team that’s currently 3-5.
The battle between Notre Dame’s defense and Clemson’s offense will define the game
Notre Dame has a pretty good run defense, which they’ll lean on to try to slow down Clemson RB Will Shipley. Passing wise, if they played in the ACC, the Irish would have the fifth best pass defense in the conference. Add to that their impressive 24 sacks on the year, and you begin to see what Notre Dame needs to do to knock off Clemson.
QB D.J. Uiagalelei has not improved his consistency under pressure in big games. Excluding a shootout with Wake Forest, when he’s played ranked teams, he’s never managed more than 210 passing yards. In his most recent game against a ranked opponent – he gave up two interceptions to Syracuse while only managing 138 passing yards.
If Uiagalelei is in trouble – or shows signs of hesitancy – Clemson coach Dabo Swinney isn’t afraid to pull the plug. His decision to do so against Syracuse changed the momentum of the game and allowed the Tigers to pull off the comeback win.
But that comeback exposed D.J. as a potential weakness in the Tigers’ armor. If Notre Dame hopes to win, they’ll need to exploit that early and often.
The success of Clemson will lie on the shoulders of D.J. Uiagalelei – whose inconsistency almost cost his team the game against Syracuse a few weeks ago
Game 4: ‘The First Saturday in November’ or the ‘Saban Bowl’ no.6 Alabama Crimson Tide (7-1) @ No. 10 LSU Tigers (6-2)
- Saturday @ 7:00 (ESPN) / ‘Death Valley’ Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, LA
Here’s rivalry game No. 4 and if this game was any other week, it would undoubtedly be our pick for Game of the Week. The history and the hatred between LSU and Alabama is such that even though they’re not either team’s biggest rival ‘traditionally’ – every college football fan in the country still tunes in to watch the Tigers and the Tide. Every year, it’s a marquee event on the college football calendar.
That got exacerbated with the CFP rankings. LSU is the highest ranked two loss team in the first CFP poll – with the committee moving them up to No. 10 in the nation after they’d been ranked 15th in the AP Poll.
LSU just came off one of their best performances of the season – a 45-20 demolition of then-No. 7 ranked Ole Miss. That game may go down as Tigers QB Jayden Daniels’ best for the Bayou Bengals, with 248 passing yards, 121 rushing yards, and a combined five touchdowns.
That’s all well and good, but defensively, head coach Brian Kelly’s squad struggled to keep the Rebels at bay. LSU gave up 400 total yards, including 117 yards rushing, but only let them get to the end zone twice.
LSU-Alabama is always one of most anticipated matchups of the year and this is no exception
One can imagine that lack of defensive consistency is why Alabama is opening this game on the road – at one of the most hostile atmospheres in college football – as -13.5 point favorites.
Offensively, the Tide are just loaded. The same can be said for the defense. Ex-LSU head coach Nick Saban has done well for the most part against his former team, with a record of 11-4 since joining the Crimson Tide.
LSU’s current head coach Brian Kelly has never beaten Alabama – or Saban – ever in his coaching career. The one time the two faced off was the 2013 BCS National Championship game, when Kelly’s No. 1 Notre Dame team was outclassed by Saban 42-14 in Miami. Notre Dame did play Alabama in 2021, but by then, Kelly had announced he was leaving and didn’t coach that game.
While the Ole Miss win is notable and important – and can be considered a first ‘big win’ of Kelly’s tenure in Baton Rouge – fans of the Tigers know you’re not a truly successful coach at LSU if you can’t beat ‘Bama. If Kelly can pull this off, it blows the SEC West wide open as the Rebels, the Tigers, and the Tide all itching to get to Atlanta and the conference championship game in December.
Can Brian Kelly (R) beat Nick Saban (L) for the first time in his college coaching career?
Game of the Week : No. 1 Tennessee Volunteers (8-0) @ no. 3 Georgia Bulldogs (8-0)
- Saturday @ 3:30 ET (CBS) / ‘Between the Hedges’ Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA
When the College Football Playoff committee released their rankings, many found it shocking that Tennessee was able to hop Georgia – a team that has yet to commit a fault in their record and has been in the top two for most of the season.
Then again, if you asked people at the beginning of this season, many would find it hard to believe this game – the fifth rivalry game being highlighted – could go down as the best of the year.
But it could, it truly could. The winner of this game gets to basically stroll their way to the SEC Championship game as the representatives from the SEC East. For Tennessee, they sit on the precipice of pulling themselves out of mediocrity they’ve found themselves in for years.
For Georgia, they can finally cement themselves as THE top power in the SEC with a win here, and an eventual SEC title. But for both these teams, this game has the potential to truly change the course of college football history – for both their programs and the sport as a whole.
Two powerhouses in the SEC East face off in what could be the best game of this year
After kind of dodging them throughout the season, it’s now finally time to talk about Georgia. Offensively, they’re a well oiled machine. Last year’s rags-to-riches hero Stetson Bennett has proven that he’s a legitimate NFL talent and isn’t here to mess around. He’s tossed the ball over 2,300 yards for only nine passing touchdowns – which will make you hesitate if you’ve never watched this team. Only nine passing TDs? Over 2,300 yards passing? And the team averages over 41 points per game? How?
Simply put: they have the most diversified and surprising running attack in the nation. They have not one, not two, not three, but EIGHT different players that have scored rushing touchdowns this year. Bennett has five of his own, but the three-headed running back Hydra of Daijun Edwards, Kenny McIntosh, and Kendall Milton each have at least 280 rushing yards and four rushing TDs on the season.
The reigning national champions saw eight defensive starters leave for the NFL Draft last season. If they stayed, they’d still be the top team in the country, but even with them gone, Georgia’s defense has stayed strong. They’re the second best scoring defense in the country as well as the fourth best in both total yards and rushing yards.
Daijun Edwards is the leading rusher in a multi-faceted and powerful Georgia running offense
On to Tennessee, and Vols QB Hendon Hooker. He’s been in ace form. Consider that it’s Week 10 and Tennessee is still averaging 553 yards of total offense per game.
Hooker has attempted 219 passes this year and completed 156. So that’s a 71 percent completion rate. Not only has he managed to toss the rock over 2,300 yards, he’s done so while maintaining an almost perfect touchdown to interception ratio of 21:1.
Which leads to the catch when it comes to the Vols: their defense. Sure, they’ve allowed an average of only 21 points per game, and that’s not bad at all. The issue comes when you realize they give up on average 393 yards of total offense per game. Of that, 300 of those yards are through the air.
All this leads to what should be an over bettors’ dream game. Expect a lot of offense, high scoring, and – if the football gods look favorably upon the South – a dramatic finish deserving of eternal glory and the moniker of ‘Game of the Year’.
If the Vols want to stay No. 1, they need another big win just like the one against Alabama