Every week throughout the season we’ll give you a college football viewing guide by highlighting the five best games of the coming weekend. We will pick those five games against the spread and highlight some other matchups that caught our eye from a betting perspective.
Now that we’ve got all of the arguing from the first set of College Football Playoff rankings out of our systems, it’s time to turn the focus to Week 10.
There is only one ranked vs. ranked matchup on the schedule this weekend, but there are still plenty of interesting games on the slate. That includes teams still in the CFP race in tricky spots on the road against unranked opponents.
There’s going to be an upset somewhere. Where will it emerge?
(Note: All times ET, odds from BetMGM)
Time: Noon | TV: ABC | Line: UNC -2.5 | Total: 75.5
Wake Forest is one of six remaining undefeated teams in the FBS and came in at No. 9 in the initial CFP rankings on Tuesday night. Despite the undefeated record, Wake is an underdog on Saturday against UNC, which opened the year in the top 10 but has just a 4-4 record. The Demon Deacons are fifth in the nation in scoring offense (43.4 ppg) and ninth in total offense (495.5 ypg).
Wake’s defense, though, has been up-and-down. That unit faces a tough test against the Tar Heels, a team that can really put up big numbers despite the disappointing record. North Carolina isn’t far behind the Demon Deacons in terms of offensive output. The Tar Heels are averaging 482.9 yards (No. 12 nationally) and 36.5 points per game (No. 22) but have still managed to lose three of their last five games. A porous defense is the main culprit.
Sam: Wake Forest +2.5, Nick: Wake Forest +2.5
Time: Noon | TV: SECN | Line: Ole Miss -9.5 | Total: 67
Hugh Freeze will make his triumphant return to Oxford on Saturday as the Liberty head coach. Now in his third year at Liberty, Freeze previously was the coach at Ole Miss for five seasons until he resigned in scandal. His Ole Miss program was the subject of an NCAA investigation for much of his tenure, but he didn’t resign until it was uncovered that he used his university-issued cell phone to call escort services.
Naturally, he landed at Liberty and has done quite well with the Flames, amassing a 25-8 record over the last three seasons. The Flames are 7-2 this year, but have faced only two teams with a winning record, Syracuse and UAB. Ole Miss, meanwhile, is 6-2 and came in at No. 16 in the first CFP rankings. The Rebels lost last week at Auburn and are dealing with an array of injuries.
Sam: Ole Miss -9.5, Nick: Ole Miss -9.5
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: ABC | Line: MSU -3 | Total: 54
Michigan State overcame a 30-14 third-quarter deficit in its thrilling 37-33 win over Michigan last week. It was a game that featured a five-TD performance from Kenneth Walker III, who is now among the Heisman favorites. Following the victory, the Spartans were ranked No. 3 in the CFP rankings ahead of Saturday’s trip to Purdue. After such an emotional win over their biggest rival, will the Spartans be able to avoid a letdown in West Lafayette?
Purdue has played the underdog role quite well this season. The Boilermakers upset then-No. 2 Iowa 24-7 in Iowa City on Oct. 16 as an 11-point underdog. Last week, Purdue was a 7.5-point underdog on the road against Nebraska and won 28-23. Can it happen again? Purdue is allowing only 17.1 points per game and has one of the best receivers in the country in David Bell. This is going to be a tricky one for MSU.
Sam: MSU -3, Nick: MSU -3
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: CBS | Line: TAMU -4 | Total: 49.5
With a new coach in place, expectations were relatively low for Auburn entering the season. So far, Bryan Harsin’s group has been one of the bigger surprises in the SEC. The Tigers are 6-2 and No. 13 in the country entering Saturday’s showdown at Kyle Field. Auburn already has road wins over LSU and Arkansas and is coming off an impressive home win over Ole Miss. Can Bo Nix and the Rebels keep it rolling?
Texas A&M opened the season ranked No. 6 nationally before losing its first two SEC games to Arkansas and Mississippi State. Since then, the Aggies have rebounded very nicely. Most notably, the Aggies upset Alabama (which was then ranked No. 1) before blowing out both Missouri and South Carolina. With Auburn, Ole Miss and LSU left on their conference schedule, the Aggies still have some SEC West title hopes.
Sam: Texas A&M -4, Nick: Auburn +4
Time: 7 p.m. | TV: ESPN2 | Line: UK -1.5 | Total: 56.5
LSU’s game against No. 2 Alabama will likely get more eyes in the 7 p.m. time slot, but this will be a more competitive game. Kentucky opened the year 6-0 but has lost its last two, including a disappointing effort at Mississippi State last weekend. The Wildcats have already defeated Florida and LSU at home this season and have the chance to get back on track this weekend when the Vols come to town.
Tennessee is 4-4, but has been better than expected in its first season under Josh Heupel. The Vols nearly upset Ole Miss at home and were within a touchdown of Alabama in Tuscaloosa early in the fourth quarter when the two met on Nov. 6. Coming off a bye week, Tennessee now has the chance to push toward a winning season. That starts with the Kentucky game.
Sam: Tennessee +1.5, Nick: Kentucky -1.5
Head-to-head ATS: Sam: 25-20, Nick: 22-23
Week 10 best bets
Nick Bromberg (Last week: 3-0, Overall: 16-11)
Tulsa at No. 6 Cincinnati (-22.5): The Bearcats are going to have a point to prove against a Tulsa team that needs to go 3-1 over its last four games to make a bowl. With SMU also looming on the schedule, I don’t think a bowl game is happening. I’m also not sure the over is happening either. Cincinnati’s defense should smother Tulsa’s offense. Pick: Under 54.5
Indiana at No. 7 Michigan (-20.5): This has not been the catapulting season that Indiana was looking for. The Hoosiers are guaranteed to finish below .500 with a loss to the Wolverines, while Michigan is looking to bounce back from that Michigan State defeat. I’m not touching the line on this one and am instead going under with true freshman QB Donaven McCulley starting for the Hoosiers. Pick: Under 50.5
No. 4 Oregon (-6.5) at Washington: Here’s another team that’s having a brutal season. Washington was the betting favorite to win the Pac-12 entering the year and is 4-4 and 3-2 in conference. Those struggles are thanks to an offense that has been sluggish at times — to put it nicely. That’s why I’m going with another under here. Pick: Under 51.5
Sam Cooper (Last week: 1-2, Overall: 12-15)
Utah (-7) at Stanford: Stanford can’t run the ball, can’t defend the run and might be without quarterback Tanner McKee. Utah’s offense has been playing very well since making the switch to Cam Rising at QB. Pick: Utah -7
Army vs. Air Force (-3): Two service academies playing is an automatic under play for me. The under has hit in seven straight meetings between Army and Air Force. An average of 27.7 points was scored in those games. Pick: Under 37
Mississippi State at Arkansas (-5.5): The Arkansas offense is dependent on the run and MSU has the fifth-best rush defense in the country. I won’t be surprised if MSU wins this outright. Pick: Mississippi State +5.5
For other Week 10 picks from Sam Cooper, click here.
For Week 10 picks from Dan Wetzel, Pete Thamel and Pat Forde, subscribe to the College Football Enquirer podcast.