As the college football season enters its final three weeks, things are starting to heat up in a number of conferences.
In the Big 12, Texas will hit the road to Fort Worth to take on a TCU team that has struggled this year. Last year, Sonny Dyke’s Horned Frogs made it to the College Football Playoff title game, where they were routed by Georgia (65-7). It’s been a tough year for the Frogs this year, but an upset win over No. 7-ranked UT would make their season.
Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian is well aware his team needs to win out to have a shot at playing in the Big 12 title game in Arlington on Dec. 2. Two weeks ago, Texas dominated BYU with back-up Maalik Murphy who filled in admirably for starter Quinn Ewers, who missed the game with a shoulder injury. Murphy tossed two TD passes and led the UT offense to 35 points. If Ewers is out again this weekend, the UT offense should be in solid hands with Murphy under center.
Other key games this weekend has Miami visiting No. 4-ranked Florida State as the two long-time and bitter rivals meet in Tallahassee. The Seminoles won their first eight games and have their sights set on not only an ACC title, but a spot in the CFP playoffs.
No. 8-ranked Alabama hits the road to take on a Kentucky team that could prove to be a thorn in Nick Saban’s side. The Crimson Tide will be coming off an emotional and physical game against LSU the previous week, so it will be interesting to see what they have left in the tank.
There’s a big one in the Big 10 as No. 2-ranked Michigan visits No. 9-ranked Penn State. PSU head coach James Franklin is 4- 15 against Ohio State and Michigan, and the Nittany Lion faithful are sick and tired of losing to the two premiere teams in the conference. Michigan has been embroiled in a bit of controversy as the NCAA and the federal government are investigating charges that the Wolverines have been stealing signs from opponents over the last couple of seasons.
In the SEC, NO. 11 ranked Mississippi visits No. 1-ranked Georgia as Lane Kiffin’s high-powered offense will take on the stingy Bulldog defense between the hedges on Saturday.
In the Pac 12, No. 24-ranked USC visits No. 6-ranked Oregon, in what should be an offensive shootout. The Trojans can score with any team in the country, their problem is their defense is horrendous. In their last five games, the USC defense has given up 213 points (47 points per game). That unit had better get better quickly if they hope to slow down the high-scoring Ducks.
In NFL action this weekend, Week 10 features some interesting matchups. Cleveland visits Baltimore in a key AFC North contest. The Browns hope to have starting QB Deshaun Watson back. Watson has missed much of the season dealing with an injured throwing shoulder.
The Texans, who two weeks ago dropped a tough 15-13 decision at Carolina, have a tough one this Sunday when they visit Cincinnati to take on a very hot Bengals team.
The Cowboys host the hapless Giants, while the struggling 49ers (losers of three straight games heading into last week’s bye) take on the surging Jaguars in Jacksonville. Sunday Night Football features the Jets at the Raiders, and week 10 concludes on Monday Night Football with the Broncos visiting the Bills.
Before we take a look at those games, we need to give a shoutout to the Nimitz Cougars. Head coach Cornelius Harmon’s young team won its eighth game of the season two weeks ago with a 44-24 thumping of Spring High School. The Cougars are playoff bound for the third straight season and have a young and explosive team. The future is indeed bright for Nimitz.
Let’s review last week’s record. A 9-3 week brought the season record to 63-35 (66%).
Now, onto this weekend’s game.
Miami at Florida State: This used to be one of the biggest games annually in college football, but both programs have been down a bit over the last decade but it appears Florida State is on its way back, while Miami is still looking to regain that old magic form. FSU is ranked No. 4 in the country, while Miami has won six of its first eight games. The Seminoles have one of the top dual-threat QBs in Jordan Travis (2,109 passing yards, 18 TDs/205 rushing yards, 6 TDs), and he has plenty of weapons in running back Troy Benson (574 yards, 7 TDs) and wide receivers Keon Coleman (35 receptions, 538 yards, 9 TDs) and Johnny Wilson (25 receptions, 415 yards, 2 TDs). Miami is led by QB Tyler VanWinkle (1,884 yards, 16 TDs/8 interceptions). Look for FSU to roll over their in-state rivals on Saturday. My pick, Florida State 34, Miami 16
Alabama at Kentucky: The Crimson Tide visit Kentucky after coming off what should be an emotional and physical game against LSU. Saban will have his team ready to take on a Wildcats team that has a suspect defense. Look for ‘Bama QB Jalen Milroe (1,617 yards, 13 TDs) running back Jase McClellan (569 yards, 4 TDs) and wide receiver Jermaine Burton (23 receptions, 505 yards, 5 TDs) to carve up the Kentucky defense. My pick, Alabama 33, Kentucky 14
Michigan at Penn State: A big one in the Big 10 has the Wolverines visiting the Nittany Lions in a game PSU head coach James Franklin badly needs to win. As mentioned earlier, Franklin is just 4-15 against the league’s top two teams, Ohio State and Michigan. His offense could be in for a long day as it will face a Wolverine defense that allows just 6 points per game (Michigan has allowed just 47 points in its first eight games). PSU has some weapons on offense led by QB Drew Aller (1,655 yards, 16 TDs), running back Kaytron Allen (482 yards, 3 TDs) and wide receiver Keandre Lambert-Smith (43 receptions, 550 yards, 4 TDs). Michigan is pretty good on offense as well led by QB J.J. McCarthy (1,789 yards, 18 TDs), running back Blake Corum (605 yards, 13 TDs) and wide receiver Roman Wilson (27 receptions, 446 yards, 10 TDs). Look for the Michigan defense to put the clamps down on the Penn State offense as the Wolverines set their sights on a showdown with No. 3-ranked Ohio State on Thanksgiving weekend. My pick, Michigan 26, Penn State 8
Mississippi at Georgia: Lane Kiffin and his No. 11-ranked Rebels will try to end Georgia’s 26 game winning streak. Good luck with that. The Bulldogs lost a ton of talent from last year’s national championship team, but head coach Kirby Smart has simply reloaded. First-year starting QB Carson Beck (2,462 yards, 14 TDs) has the offense humming. He has a solid running back in Daijun Edwards (555 yards, 8 TDs) and wide receiver Dominic Lovett (35 receptions, 365 yards, 1 TD). Ole Miss has some offensive weapons of their own in QB Jaxon Dart (2,080 passing yards, 14 TDs/326 rushing yards, 7 TDs), speedy running back Quinshon Judkins (691 yards, 9 TDs) and big-play wideout Jordan Watkins (39 receptions, 580 yards, 2 TDs). Look for the Georgia defense to slow down the speedy Rebs as the ‘Dogs look to wrap up the SEC East. My pick, Georgia 36, Mississippi 18
Texas at TCU: No. 7-ranked Texas visits TCU on Saturday looking to remain in the hunt for a spot in the Big 12 title game on Dec. 2. UT might still be without starting QB Quinn Ewers (1,915 passing yards, 13 TDs) who injured his shoulder on Oct. 21 and backup Maalik Murphy (217 yards, 2 TDs) took care of the ‘Horns offense two weeks ago in a 35-6 win over BYU by throwing two touchdown passes. Head coach Steve Sarkisian said he’s confident the UT offense will be fine with Murphy under center. Texas has one of the nation’s best running backs in Jonathon Brooks (923 yards, 7 TDs) and an explosive wide receiver in Xavier Worthy (44 receptions, 572 yards, 4 TDs). TCU has struggled this year and is down to its second QB, but they have a solid running back in Emani Bailey (851 yards, 2 TDs). Look for the UT defense to bottle up Bailey and attack TCU early and often on offense. My pick, Texas 38, TCU 12
USC at Oregon: No. 24- ranked USC visits No. 6-ranked Oregon in a key Pack 12 game for both teams. USC had national title aspirations when the season began, and while they have a lot of talent on offense led by last year’s Heisman Trophy winner in QB Caleb Williams (2,646 passing yards, 25 TDs/130 rushing yards, 9 TDs), running back MarShawn Lloyd (766 yards, 8 TDs) and wide receiver Tahj Washington (35 receptions, 711 yards, 5 TDs), their defense has been dreadful in their last five games. That unit has given up 213 points (47 per game) and if they don’t improve by Saturday, it could be another long day for Lincoln Riley’s team. The Ducks are loaded on offense led by QB Bo Nix (2,337 yards, 21 TDs), running back Bucky Irving (732 yards, 8 TDs) and wide receiver Troy Franklin (52 receptions, 867 yards, 9 TDs). Look for the Ducks offense to roll the USC defense as Oregon looks to land a spot in the Pac 12 title game. My pick, Oregon 41, USC 26
Cleveland at Baltimore: The Ravens host the Browns in an important AFC North game for both teams. The Browns have remained in the division race thanks to a stout defense, but they need to get Deshaun Watson (683 yards, 4 TDs) back under center if they hope to remain in playoff contention. Cleveland has found a capable replacement for the injured Nick Chubb at running back in Jerome Ford (381 yards, 2 TDs), but he will face a stout Ravens defense that will look to take him out of the game plan early. The Ravens appear to be putting things together on both sides of the ball. The offense has put up 69 points in wins over Detroit and Arizona. QB Lamar Jackson (1,767 passing yards, 9 TDs/380 rushing yards, 5 TDs), has been playing well and has been getting help from running back Gus Edwards (426 yards, 5 TDs) and tight end Mark Andrews (32 receptions, 397 yards, 6 TDs). Look for the Baltimore defense to make some big plays in the fourth quarter to pull out the win. My pick, Baltimore 23, Cleveland 13
Houston at Cincinnati: Just when Texans fans thought they might have a playoff team, the hometown team lays an egg and loses to a winless Carolina team two weeks ago. Things get decidedly more difficult this week when Houston travels to Cincinnati to face a red hot Bengals team. Houston QB C.J. Stroud (1,800 yards, 9 TDs) and wide receiver Nico Collins (33 receptions, 577 yards, 3 TDs) will have their hands full against a pretty good Cinci defense. The Texans defense will also have its hands full taking on a hot Joe Burrow (1,513 yards, 10 TDs), running back Joe Mixon (453 yards, 2 TDs) and big-play wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase (60 receptions, 656 yards, 4 TDs) and Tyler Boyd (33 receptions, 244 yards, 2 TDs). Look for Burrow and Chase to have a big day to make it a long day for the Texans. My pick, Cincinnati 33, Houston 16
San Francisco at Jacksonville: The bye week could not have come at a better time for the struggling 49ers. After winning their first five games, the Niners dropped three straight heading into their bye week, while the Jags entered their bye week riding a five-game winning streak. SF QB Brock Purdy (2,033 yards, 12 TDs), running back Christian McCaffrey (652 rushing yards, 9 TDs/32 receptions, 292 yards, 4 TDs) and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk (35 receptions, 620 yards, 2 TDs) need to get rolling again, but they will face a tough test against an underrated Jags defense. Jacksonville has a few offensive weapons of its own in QB Trevor Lawrence (1,935 yards, 9 TDs), running back Travis Etienne (583 yards, 8 total TDs) and wide receiver Christian Kirk (43 receptions, 520 yards, 3 TDs). Look for the Jags to continue the 49ers woes as they pick up a big home win on Sunday. My pick, Jacksonville 26, San Francisco 23
New York Giants at Dallas: These two teams met in Week 1 in New Jersey and the Cowboys defense dominated the Giants en route to a 40-0 victory. That game appeared to set the tone for the Giants who have been one of the more disappointing teams this year after making the playoffs in 2022. NY should have starting QB Daniel Jones back for this game after he missed three games with a neck injury, but it won’t matter against a stout Dallas defense. Look for Micah Parsons and Co. to shut down NY running back Saquon Barkley (412 yards, 7 TDs) early and then go after Jones. The Dallas offense put up 43 points two weeks ago at home against the Rams and will be going after its 12th straight home win. Look for a big day from QB Dak Prescott (1,637 yards, 10 TDs) and wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (46 receptions, 633 yards, 3 TDs) as the Cowboys win another easy one over the Giants. My pick, Dallas 34, New York Giants 13
New York Jets at Las Vegas: Not a great one for Sunday Night Football, but the Jets are winning without Aaron Rodgers and with much maligned QB Zach Wilson (1,337 yards, 5 TDs), running back Breece Hall (443 yards, 3 TDs) and a stout defense. The Raiders appear to be going through the motions and two weeks ago in their 26-14 loss at Detroit, All Pro wide receiver Davanta Adams was held to one catch for just 11 yards. One day later, head coach Josh McDaniels was fired. Perhaps the coaching change will inspire the Raiders, but I doubt it. Look for the Jets defense to continue to frustrate Adams and the rest of the Vegas offense as they pick up a big road win. My pick, New York Jets 23, Las Vegas 13
Denver at Buffalo: Week 10 concludes on Monday Night Football with the Broncos visiting the Bills. Two weeks ago, Russell Willson (1,613 yards, 16 TDs) and Denver upset the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs 24-9, while the Bill hung on to defeat Tampa Bay. Buffalo needs to get things going, so look for QB Josh Allen (2,165 passing yards, 17 TDs/189 rushing yards, 5 TDs) and wide receiver Stefon Diggs (64 receptions, 748 yards, 6 TDs) to have a big night as Buffalo looks to get on a roll. My pick, Buffalo 31, Denver 16