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College football: Week 10 preview and predictions

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NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Clemson
Clemson Tigers running back Travis Etienne (9) and wide receiver Deon Cain (8) react after a touchdown during the first half against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Clemson Memorial Stadium. 
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

Don’t leave your couch this Saturday.

College football has one of the most entertaining weeks of the season, this weekend. Just when we thought a game couldn’t get any better than Penn State-Ohio State, we are presented excellent matchups this weekend.

The College football playoffs are within reach for many teams, but which will make a final push? Which will falter under pressure?

Let’s preview the games for week 10 of the season.

Appetizers

(7) Penn State at (24) Michigan State

Saturday, Nov. 4th, 12 p.m.

Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, MI

Penn State is coming off a heart-breaking loss to Ohio State, but the Nittany Lions must avoid a layover affect. While Penn State’s playoff aspirations aren’t ruined yet, they will be with one more loss. The Nittany Lions must be ready for the challenge waiting for them in East Lansing. We know quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley will lead the way for the offense, but the Nittany Lions’ defense needs to come back strong this week. Any time a team scores 38 points in Columbus, they should come away with a victory. But the Nittany Lions’ defense folded in the second half and watched the game slip away.

They better be ready to match Michigan State’s tough defense on Saturday. The Spartans will make life difficult for the Nittany Lions in the first half. But Penn State pulls away by double digits in a bounce back victory.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Ohio State
Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Trace McSorley (9) reacts after throwing a touchdown pass against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the first half at Ohio Stadium.
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

(14) Iowa State at West Virginia

Saturday, Nov. 4th, 3:30 p.m.

Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, WV

Iowa State is coming off a hard-fought upset victory versus TCU and jumped 11 spots in the rankings. While Iowa State looks like a great team, they must be careful against West Virginia. The Mountaineers lost a shootout versus Oklahoma State last week, but they had no issue scoring points in bunches.

While Iowa State’s defense is impressive, West Virginia’s offense is equally as impressive. Quarterback Will Grier can sling it all over the yard, and WVU’s fast-paced offense at home will give Iowa State nightmares. The Cyclones were able to stop Kenny Hill and TCU’s attack, but holding down another dynamic offense for a second consecutive week seems daunting. The Cyclones deserve to be in the top-25, but this game at this point in the schedule after an emotional upset is too tough to overcome. West Virginia wins in a shootout thanks to a huge day from Grier.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma State at West Virginia
West Virginia Mountaineers quarterback Will Grier (7) passes the ball during the second quarter against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Milan Puskar Stadium.
Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

(18) Stanford at (25) Washington State

Saturday, Nov. 4th, 3:30 p.m.

Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA

Remember when Washington State upset USC a month ago? That seems like a decade ago. The Cougars have had two very disappointing performances since, leaving many confused as to what the Cougars’ identity is. While Stanford has had an equally inconsistent season, both teams find themselves in the top-25 with the Pac 12 still up for grabs. The season is on the line for both teams, but Washington State will surprise many once again and pull off the upset at home...again. Let’s hope this win gets their season back on track.

NCAA Football: Washington State at Arizona
Washington State Cougars quarterback Luke Falk (4) passes the ball during the first half against the Arizona Wildcats at Arizona Stadium.
Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Main Course

(6) Clemson at (20) NC State

Saturday, Nov. 4th, 3:30 p.m.

Carter–Finley Stadium, Raleigh, NC

Two teams who had opposite results last week. Clemson came off an emphatic win versus Georgia Tech and their archaic offense, while NC State got blown out against Notre Dame.

Clemson has only suffered one loss all season against an underrated Syracuse team, and still find themselves in the playoff conversation, should they win out the rest of the way. The all-pro Tigers’ defense should be able to keep NC State in check despite playing in Raleigh.

However, the Wolfpack will come out firing with nothing to lose after a rather unimpressive showing in South Bend. It’s always dangerous for a superior team to play an inferior team coming off an embarrassing loss. The Wolfpack will give the Tigers all they can handle, but Clemson QB Kelly Bryant will be the difference-maker in the fourth quarter.

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at Clemson
Clemson Tigers quarterback Kelly Bryant (2) carries the ball during the first half against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Clemson Memorial Stadium.
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

(19) LSU at (1) Alabama

Saturday, Nov. 4th, 8 p.m.

Bryant–Denny, Tuscaloosa, AL

Alabama looks like they’re destined for a return to the National Championship. And while many think we should see an Alabama-Georgia championship game, both teams still have work to do.

The Crimson Tide are many levels ahead of LSU on paper, but throw out all the stats and analytics when two rivals play. The Tigers are no strangers to Tuscaloosa, and have the defense to keep this a close game, but Alabama will be ready. This is the first ranked test Alabama will have since Florida State, and we all saw how that turned out. Head coach Nick Saban will have Alabama ready for the rivalry game, and despite LSU matching the intensity of Alabama through the first quarter, Alabama will take control of this game early through running back Bo Scarbrough. Expect a few forced turnovers and excellent linebacker play from the Crimson Tide to blow this game open. Alabama wins in impressive fashion.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at Alabama
Crimson Tide linebacker Mack Wilson (30) returns an interception that he made late in the fourth quarter against Tennessee Volunteers at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

(13) Virginia Tech at (9) Miami

Saturday, Nov. 4th, 8 p.m.

Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, FL

This is the game that will decide who plays Clemson in the ACC title game.

Virginia Tech looks like a complete ball club, with a balanced offensive attack and a vicious defense. The only loss VT has it to Clemson, but have since looked excellent in every game they’ve played. Freshman QB Josh Jackson looks mature beyond his years, throwing for over 2,000 yards, 17 touchdowns and four interceptions. More impressively, the defense has played lights-out, holding their opponents to a combined 51 points in the past five games (31 of them was allowed versus Clemson). The Hokies are for real, and will be a gigantic challenge for Miami to handle.

As for the Hurricanes, they have not played particularly well. What was once thought out to be a couple of solid victories against Florida State and Georgia Tech, now look thoroughly unimpressive. Last week’s sloppy, mediocre victory against North Carolina looked horrible on paper. Miami’s offense line looked terrible in creating lanes for RB Travis Homer, and injured QB Malik Rosier may have had his worst game of the season. The defense is legit and have saved the ‘Canes all year, but the offense is yet to play four quarters of football all season.

Miami must execute on offense to win this game. If they struggle to establish a running game, this game could get ugly. Homer will need to have a decent day to take pressure off of passing the ball 50+ times. Regardless, Rosier will need to be accurate and the playmakers for Miami’s receiving core will have to show up if Miami is to avoid a catastrophic letdown to their season.

Miami escapes Virginia Tech late in the fourth thanks to a turnover chain sighting by the defense.

NCAA Football: Miami at North Carolina
Miami Hurricanes defensive back Sheldrick Redwine (22) reacts with defensive lineman Kendrick Norton (7) and defensive back Michael Jackson (28) after making an interception in the fourth quarter.
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Dessert

(8) Oklahoma at (11) Oklahoma State

Saturday, Nov. 4th, 4 p.m.

Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, OK

Oklahoma has not looked as sharp as they did in the first half of the season. QB Baker Mayfield has been terrific, but the Oklahoma’s defense has been suspect and the Sooners have been narrowly escaping far inferior teams.

However, Oklahoma State may be the second best team the Sooners face all year. QB Mason Rudolph looks like a first-round draft pick, and the Cowboys’ offense is a well-oiled machine that is tough to stop. The Cowboys have speed that will give the Sooner’s defense fits.

Make no mistake about it: these two teams are going to put up a lot of points on Saturday. Two possible first-round draft picks will battle for four quarters and give us one of the most exciting games of the year.

Mason Rudolph will have an absolute field day and carve up Oklahoma’s defense.

But Mayfield will be one play better and stun the Cowboys in overtime, capturing his Heisman moment. This will be one of the most exciting games you’ll see all year -- college or pro level — don’t miss it.

NCAA Football: Texas Tech at Oklahoma
Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) and head coach Lincoln Riley laugh during the second half against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Gaylord Family - Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports