Week 10 of the college football season is here and, outside two matchups between top-25 teams, is kind of a snoozer.
That’s OK — the final leg of the 2019 season will really heat up in the second week of November, so this week’s slate of games will serve as the calm before the storm. Even so, the two headliners this week still have College Football Playoff and New Year’s Day 6 implications.
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The first of those games is No. 6 Florida vs. No. 8 Georgia in the neutral confines of “The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.” The game should decide not only which team represents the SEC East in the conference title game, but which one will remain alive in the Playoff race. The primetime game between No. 15 SMU and No. 24 Memphis is important as well, as both teams — especially the Mustangs — are fighting for contention to represent the Group of 5 in a New Year’s bowl.
We at Sporting News are 55-11 in our picks through nine weeks this season, coming off a strong Week 9 in which we went 7-1 (improving our record to 23-2 over the last three weeks). With that, SN’s picks for Week 10 (odds provided courtesy of Sportsbook Review as of 10 a.m. ET on Tuesday, Oct. 29):
Miami at Florida State (-3.5)
This game has little impact on the ACC divisional races and no bearing on the national football landscape, but it’s still a classic rivalry that we hope picks up one day — sooner rather than later. Both teams enter this matchup 4-4 and looking for a win to remain within reach of bowl eligibility. Florida State stopped a two-game losing streak with an impressive 35-17 win over Syracuse on Saturday, while Miami fought hard to eke out a 16-12 win over Pitt. The Hurricanes have been staunch against the run this season (106.1 yards per game), but we still think FSU running back Cam Akers — who has 301 yards and five touchdowns over the last two games — will lead the Seminoles to a close win.
Pick: Florida State 24, Miami 21
No. 22 Kansas State (-5.5) at Kansas
Kansas State is coming off the upset of the year against Oklahoma, but must now refocus on a Kansas team that scored one of the wildest wins of the season last week against Texas Tech. You can bet Les Miles will throw everything he can at Chris Klieman’s Wildcats, but look for the visiting team to play sound football. Look for K-State quarterback Skylar Thompson to have another big game after his four-touchdown outing against the Sooners.
Pick: Kansas State 35, Kansas 23
WEEK 10 PROJECTIONS: Bowls | Playoff
West Virginia at No. 12 Baylor (-17.5)
Baylor now carries the undefeated banner for the Big 12. Can the Bears handle that pressure in a Halloween night game against Neal Brown and West Virginia? We think they can: Baylor’s outscoring Big 12 competition 132-90 — not overly impressive, but indicative this team knows how to win close games (like its one-possession victories over Iowa State and Kansas State). The fact the Bears had a bye week to key in on the Mountaineers makes us feel even more confident in this pick.
Pick: Baylor 38, West Virginia 21
Virginia Tech at No. 16 Notre Dame (-17.5)
While this matchup has no bearing on the ACC race, it nonetheless affects these teams’ bowl bids. Virginia Tech was idle while Notre Dame got crushed 45-14 in monsoon-like conditions against Michigan. Normally we’d chalk that up as advantage Hokies, but Brian Kelly should have his team more than ready to rebound after the embarrassment against the Wolverines.
Pick: Notre Dame 33, Virginia Tech 27
MORE: SN Week 10 college football rankings
No. 9 Utah (-3) at Washington
The first of another telling Pac-12 doubleheader that could determine the conference’s Playoff hopes. The Huskies have dominated the all-time series, going 12-1 against the Utes; that includes a 4-1 advantage for Washington’s Chris Peterson over Kyle Whittingham. The Huskies won both of their 2018 meetings against Utah by limiting it to just 10 combined points in two games. If Whittingham and Co. want to break that trend, they’ll have to put forth a better offensive effort. Look for running back Zack Moss (335 yards, six touchdowns in his last three games) to lead the way against a Washington defense that surrenders 225 yards per game on the ground.
Pick: Utah 27, Washington 23
No. 7 Oregon (-4.5) at USC
The more important of the aforementioned doubleheader. USC has already played spoiler to Utah this season and nearly took down Notre Dame in South Bend; the Ducks can’t afford to look past their largest remaining hurdle to a one-loss regular season. The Trojans aren’t nearly as efficient on offense as Oregon’s last opponent in Washington State, but the receiving trio of Michael Pittman Jr., Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown is as talented as any the Ducks will see this season. They’ll have to keep pressure on Kedon Slovis to inhibit his receivers’ playmaking ability. Offensively, they’ll need to get running back CJ Verdell involved in both the run and passing game. Oregon lost its last trip to Los Angeles, 45-20. Chances are Mario Cristobal makes sure his team remembers that this week.
Pick: Oregon 30, USC 24
MORE: College football’s biggest November storylines
No. 15 SMU at No. 24 Memphis (-6)
Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium will be raucous as the Tigers host their first ever “College GameDay” visit. Both teams survived upset bids over the weekend (SMU against Houston; Memphis over Tulsa), but the Tigers are the early favorite in this pivotal AAC matchup. SMU coach Sonny Dykes, on the shortlist for several coach of the year awards, will almost certainly use that as a motivator for his team. Will that be enough against a Memphis team that has been solid on defense and has seen excellent play from quarterback Brady White (2,161 passing yards, 20 touchdowns) and running back Kenneth Gainwell (979 yards, 14 touchdowns)?
Pick: Memphis 35, SMU 34
No. 8 Georgia (-6) vs. No. 6 Florida
“The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party” once again has SEC East implications, but the matchup does look a little lackluster than previous iterations. Georgia hasn’t looked particularly good in either of its last two games against South Carolina or Kentucky, and Florida got a scare from South Carolina as well. Look for Florida’s defense (124.1 rypg) to try and get Georgia behind the chains early and pin their ears back against Jake Fromm on obvious passing downs. That’s easier said than done against a running back corps that has five players averaging at least 6.3 yards per carry. Conversely, Florida must score in the red zone, where it failed twice in its 42-28 loss to LSU. Kyle Trask has been good at quarterback for the Gators, but that might be too big a task for him to accomplish against a Georgia team giving up 10.6 points per game.
Pick: Georgia 27, Florida 24