After the release of the first College Football Playoff rankings, things continue to heat up in Week 10. Seven games between ranked opponents are on the slate and will further shake things up as we enter the last four weeks of the regular season. We'll be looking at the Big 10 battle between Penn State and Michigan State, who both are looking for a bounce back win after their respective losses last week. Next, we'll look at Bedlam and the Big 12 title game eliminator between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Lastly, we'll look at the ACC Coastal battle in Miami when Virginia Tech visits.
No. 13 Virginia Tech at No. 10 Miami, 8 p.m. (ABC); VaTech -2.5
Question: Is Miami for real?
Two ACC Coastal Division heavyweights meet up Saturday night with both Miami and Virginia Tech looking to boost their College Football Playoff resumes with three more weeks remaining after this matchup. Miami has had a few close calls recently with a one-point win against Georgia Tech and last week’s five-point victory against one-win North Carolina. Virginia Tech played the same Tar Heels team the week prior and walked away with a 52-point win, one of three straight wins for the Hokies since their only blemish to Clemson, 31-17. Both teams have had great success under center with their first-year starters — Malik Rosier for Miami and Josh Jackson for Virginia Tech.
Rosier, a junior, has led the Hurricanes to a perfect 7-0 start. He's thrown for 2,071 yards to go with 17 touchdowns and only four interceptions. The Miami offense has been a little quiet the last few weeks and will need running back Travis Homer and wide receiver Braxton Berrios to step up in this huge showdown. With a matchup looming against No. 3 Notre Dame the following week, Miami needs to make sure they don't get caught looking ahead in this one.
True freshman quarterback Josh Jackson has led the Hokies to an unlikely 7-1 start and has impressive and nearly identical numbers to counterpart Rosier. Jackson has thrown for 2,032 yards, 17 touchdowns and four interceptions. Senior wide receiver Cam Phillips has had a productive first eight games with six touchdown receptions as one of Jackson's favorite targets. Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster will be tasked with keeping the speedy skill players from Miami in front of his defense to keep the big plays at a minimum. Expect lots of blitzing and drops to zone from the Hokie’s defense.
Miami is looking for it's first ACC division and conference title while the Hokies have won six Coastal and four ACC titles since the conference split in 2005. Miami is going to have to show up in this one. The offense has been too sluggish and I don't expect a repeat on this massive stage. The Hokies and Jackson, as a favorite on the road, will have to bring their best against a well coached Manny Diaz Hurricane defense. I have a funny feeling Miami is going to get the job done in a close 24-21 game.
No. 5 Oklahoma at No. 11 Oklahoma State, 4 p.m. (FS1); OKST -2.5
Prediction: Bedlam is going to be crazy and the Sooners will pull it out
This year’s Bedlam game has big implications in the 2017 Big 12 title race. Oklahoma is No. 5 in the first playoff ranking, and with Oklahoma State a few spots behind this game will go along way when it comes to resume building. Both teams sit atop a four-team log jam for first place in the conference at 4-1, along with Iowa State and TCU. The quarterback battle pits two of the best in the country against one another and both defenses will have their hands full to say the least.
Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield has the led the Sooners to their 7-1 start with 2,628 yards passing, 23 touchdowns and only three interceptions. His 23 touchdowns ranks fifth nationally. Tight end Mark Andrews is one of his top targets and running back Trey Sermon has been filling the backfield role nicely. Both will need to make some big plays Saturday in what could end up being a high scoring shootout.
Oklahoma State's offense got back on track last week against West Virginia in their 50-39 win. Quarterback Mason Rudolph's 2,866 passing yards leads the country. He has thrown 22 touchdowns and five interceptions. Having the arsenal of skill players around him doesn't hurt especially with future NFL star receiver James Washington. Washington had seven catches for 91 yards and two touchdowns against the Mountaineers to push him over the 1,000 yard receiving mark for the season (1,005 total). Justice Hill got banged up in last weekend's matchup but came back into the contest and should be good to go for the in-state rivalry. His backup J.D. King stepped in nicely to pace the rushing attack with 142 yards and a touchdown and will be a nice addition to Coach Gundy's offensive options.
I've picked the Pokes the last two weeks but I have a funny feeling the Sooners are going to be ready for this one. Baker Mayfield got his wish in the first set of the rankings by coming in one spot ahead of Ohio State, who they beat earlier this season. To keep those title hopes alive, they'll need to walk out of Boone T. Pickens Stadium with a win. Oklahoma 41-38.
No. 7 Penn State at No. 24 Michigan State, Noon (FOX); PSU -8.5
Question: Can the Nittany Lions get back on track?
Two of the top three teams in the Big 10 East division lost last weekend and Saturday's matchup with be a Big 10 title game eliminator with only three weeks remaining and a loss will more than likely dash any hopes of catching Ohio State. Penn State dropped five spots after their heartbreaking 39-38 loss at Ohio State after losing a 15-point fourth quarter lead. Michigan State also dealt with heartbreak in their 39-31 triple overtime loss on the road at Northwestern. Both the Nittany Lions and Spartans need this win to keep pace with the Buckeyes.
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley had great performances against the Buckeyes, but they left too much to chance in the fourth quarter. They will have to quickly regroup to head to East Lansing with a heightened sense of urgency to get back into the playoff picture. The likes of wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton and tight end Mike Gesicki will be constant sore spots for the when the Spartans send numbers on their blitzes which as Michigan found out the hard way, come early and often.
Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke and running back L.J. Scott look to bounce back in their own must-win game. Lewerke passed for a school record 445 yards against the Wildcats to go along with four touchdown passes. Scott has led the rushing attack with 511 yards and four touchdowns. The offense, lacking the firepower of the Nittany Lions, will need to run a balanced offense to keep the Penn State defense on their heels.
Penn State's offense has too much power and speed for Michigan State. I think the Spartans will keep it close for a half, but after that I see the Nittany Lions pulling this one out by two touchdowns. Saquon Barkley is just too talented to keep in a bottle for an entire game, and if the Spartans defense can do that it'll leave the other skill players open to pick up the slack. Penn State 31-17.
Enjoy Week 10 everyone!
Other Saturday games of note:
No. 4 Clemson at No. 20 NC State, 3:30 p.m. (ABC); CLEM -8.0
No. 19 LSU at Alabama, 8 p.m. (CBS); ALA -21.5
No. 22 Arizona at No. 17 USC , 10:45 p.m. (ESPN); USC -7.0
No. 21 Stanford at No. 25 Washington State , 3:30 p.m. (FOX); WSU-2.0