With a season-high 35 teams off – including nine members of the AP Top 25 – Week 10 of the college football schedule is a lot less obvious in its potential goodness than previous weeks.
A whopping four members of the AP Top 5 are on a bye (a curious occurrence given the first CFP rankings are due out next Tuesday, Nov. 5), but several “second-tier” contenders are set to be tested – (6) Florida vs. (8) Georgia, (7) Oregon at USC, (9) Utah at Washington, and (12) Baylor vs. West Virginia. A win in each of these contests is critical for programs with hopes of slipping into a playoff slot if one of the current top-ranked squads fall from perfection.
Things get started on Thursday night with two games at 8pm EST each featuring a 7-0 ranked team – West Virginia at (12) Baylor (ESPN) and Georgia Southern at (20) Appalachian State on ESPNU. That leaves Friday night’s single contest, also at 8pm EST (ESPN2), Navy at UConn. Keep in mind that the Midshipmen are ranked No. 1 in the nation in rushing offense while the Huskies are No. 102 vs. the run.
Saturday gets off to a slower start with (14) Michigan at Maryland on ABC and NC State at (23) Wake Forest on ESPN, both air at Noon EST.
Though Virginia Tech visits (16) Notre Dame at 2:30pm EST on NBC, Week 10’s biggest attraction is (8) Georgia vs. (6) Florida on CBS at 3:30pm EST. Secondary options include (22) Kansas State at Kansas on FS1 (a rivalry game with both squads fresh off big upset wins) along with Miami Fla. at Florida State on ABC and TCU at Oklahoma State over on ESPN.
Under the lights it’s (15) SMU at (24) Memphis at 7:30pm EST on ABC and (7) Oregon at USC at 8pm EST on FOX. The primetime sleeper is Ole Miss at (11) Auburn at 7pm EST on ESPN.
RANKED vs. RANKED (2)
- (8) Georgia vs. (6) Florida (in Jacksonville, Fla.) – Saturday, 3:30pm EST, CBS
- (15) SMU at (24) Memphis – Saturday, 7:30pm EST, ABC
OFF THIS WEEK (35)
- American: Temple, USF
- ACC: Duke, Louisville
- Big Ten: (19) Iowa, Michigan State, (13) Minnesota, (3) Ohio State, (5) Penn State, (18) Wisconsin
- Big 12: Iowa State, (10) Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech
- C-USA: Louisiana Tech, Southern Miss
- Independents: New Mexico State
- MAC: Ball State, Kent State, Miami Ohio, Ohio, Toledo, Western Michigan
- Mountain West: (25) San Diego State, Wyoming
- Pac-12: Arizona State, Cal, Stanford, Washington State
- SEC: (2) Alabama, Kentucky, (1) LSU, Missouri
- Sun Belt: Georgia State, South Alabama
9: Arkansas State has won 9-straight over ULM (last loss in 2009)
10: (22) Kansas State has won 10-straight over Kansas (last loss in 2008)
10: South Carolina has won 10-straight over Vanderbilt (last loss in 2008)
- Buffalo has NEVER won AT Eastern Michigan (0-4)
- Charlotte has NEVER beaten Middle Tennessee (0-4)
- Colorado has NEVER won AT UCLA in Pac-12 play (0-4)
- San Jose State has NEVER beaten (21) Boise State (0-13)
- Texas State has NEVER beaten Louisiana (0-5)
- UAB has NEVER beaten Tennessee (0-4)
Houston at UCF (Saturday, Noon EST, ESPN2)
Even though it’s suffered two losses for the first time since 2016, UCF is ranked a lofty No. 8 in the nation in pass offense. This sets up ever so well vs. a Houston squad ranked No. 123 against the pass. Where the Knights have earned 300-plus air yards in five of its eight outings thus far, the Cougars have given up 250-plus in five of its appearances. Players to watch include UCF true freshman QB Dillon Gabriel (#11), No. 14 in the nation in yards per game (277.3) and No. 7 in yards per attempt (10) and junior WR Gabriel Davis (#13), No. 6 in receiving yards per game (114.5) and tied for No. 3 in receiving TDs (10).
Liberty at UMass (Saturday, Noon EST, FloSports/NESN)
Tune in to this one to see the No. 4 receiver in college football – Liberty senior WR Antonio Gandy-Golden (#11) – take on the most generous defense in the land. UMass is currently ranked No. 130 (or dead last) in scoring D, No. 130 vs. the run and No. 119 vs. the pass. It is the only unit allowing 50-plus points per game this season (50.6). Gandy-Golden has already earned 100-plus receiving yards five times this season including hanging up 174 yards on Buffalo and 181 vs. FCS Hampton.
Texas State at Louisiana (Saturday, 5pm EST, ESPN+)
The biggest statistical mismatch in Week 10, Louisiana is quietly ranked No. 3 – in the nation – in rushing offense, its 286.86 yards per game sandwiching it between No. 2 Air Force (322.5) and No. 4 Ohio State (284.25). It’s a number that ought to rise even higher against a Texas State defense ranked No. 122 vs. the run – only eight teams in the nation have been more generous. The Ragin’ Cajuns are fresh off rushing for 315 yards and scoring five rushing TDs at Arkansas State (in Week 8, before their Week 9 bye) while the Bobcats most recently coughed up 200-plus ground yards and three scores apiece in back-to-back losses to ULM and Arkansas State. Louisiana’s ground attack is led by the fantastic trio of junior Trey Ragas (#9), junior Elijah Mitchell (#15) and senior Raymond Calais (#4) who have already hooked up for 1,641 yards and 22 TDs.
Virginia at North Carolina (Saturday, 7:30pm EST, ACCN)
After winning its first four games of the season, Virginia has dropped three of its last four to the likes of (16) Notre Dame, Miami Fla. and Louisville. Hidden in its statistical DNA are 32-recorded sacks, tying it with (18) Wisconsin for the fourth-most in the FBS. It sets up for an under-the-radar mismatch against North Carolina, who with 27 sacks allowed has given up the sixth-most in the entire nation. Keep an eye on Cavalier senior inside LB Jordan Mack (#4) (who will miss the first half of the game due to a targeting call last week), sophomore outside LB Noah Taylor (#14) and junior inside LB Zane Zandier (#33), combined they’ve recorded 16.5 sacks for 103 lost yards.
HARDWARE UP FOR GRABS
The Commander in Chief’s Trophy – Army at Air Force – series started in 1959 – Air Force leads 36-16-1, Army’s back-to-back wins in 2017 and 2018 are the first consecutive victories since 1976-78.
The three-way contest between Army, Navy and Air Force, the Commander in Chief was established in 1972 to ensure that the newer Air Force Academy (which kicked off football in 1957) would play Navy and Army (both dating back to 1891) annually. The Falcons lead the way with 20 trophies, followed by the Midshipmen with 15 and the Black Knights with eight.
Navy beat Air Force 34-25 on Oct. 5. Since Army currently possesses the trophy, the winner of this year’s Army/Navy game (Dec. 14 in Philadelphia, Pa.) will claim the Commander in Chief’s Trophy this season regardless of what happens Saturday in the Air Force-Army game.
The Florida Cup – Miami Fla. at Florida State – series started in 1951 – Miami leads 33-30 and has won the last two.
Awarded to the winner of the three-way battle between Florida/Florida State and Miami Fla., the Florida Cup (also known as the “state championship of Florida”) was established in 2002 by the Florida Sports Foundation. Though the Cup is 17-years old, it’s only been presented five times – from 2002-04 and in 2008 and 2013. While Florida State meets Florida (a non-conference fixture) and Miami Fla. (as permanent ACC cross-division rivals) annually, the three-way rivalry has been hampered by the limited number of times the Gators have squared off with the Hurricanes. The good news is, the two schools have just inked a deal for a series in 2024 and 2025.
Miami won the first three Cups (2002-2004) while Florida (2008) and Florida State (2013) have captured the two most recent. This season, the then No. 8 Gators beat the Hurricanes 24-20 in the opener in Orlando and the Seminoles close out the regular season with a visit to Florida on Nov. 30.
The Golden Screwdriver – Fresno State at Hawaii – series started in 1938 – Fresno State leads 28-22-1 and has won seven of the last eight. Rematch of the 1940/41 Pineapple Bowl and 1947 Aloha Bowl.
What sets the Golden Screwdriver apart from all the other FBS rivalry trophies is that it’s not an official part of the game its associated with. At least not yet. It’s also got perhaps the best backstory combined with the least savory aesthetics.
It all began at the 2002 Hawaii at Fresno State game, when then Warrior head coach June Jones claimed to have been hit in the head by a screwdriver hurled from the stands at the end of his team’s 31-21 win. The trophy, a golden screwdriver implanted in artificial turf on a rustic wooden base, “commemorates” the altercation. Its creation is the result of a Fresno radio station’s call for listeners to design an annual award for the rivalry game.
The Governor’s Cup – (22) Kansas State at Kansas – series started in 1902 – Kansas leads 65-46-5 but hasn’t won since 2008.
One of the three FBS Governor’s Cups, Kansas’ version has been awarded to the winner of the football edition of the Sunflower Showdown since 1969. The Jayhawks and Wildcats have played consecutively since 1911 and from 1902-39 competed for an earlier award called the Governor’s Trophy. K-State has won 29 Cups vs. Kansas’ 20.
The Okefenokee Oar – (6) Florida vs. (8) Georgia (at Jacksonville, Fla.) – series started in 1915 – Georgia leads 51-43-2 and has won the last two.
Established in 2009 by the student governments of both schools, the Okefenokee is a 10-foot long oar, carved from a 1,000-year old cypress tree from the Okefenokee Swamp. Covering nearly 700-square miles, the swamp straddles the Florida-Georgia state line. Each team has paddled home with the oar five times.
The Old Wagon Wheel – BYU at Utah State – series started in 1922 – BYU leads 48-37-3 but Utah State has won the last two.
Established in 1948 by fraternities at both schools, the Old Wagon Wheel honors the Mormon move westward in the mid-19th century, a trek done in covered wagons. BYU has won the Wheel 40 times vs. Utah State’s 25.
With six teams off apiece from both the Big Ten and MAC there will be a serious lack of college football in the Midwest this weekend.
In Michigan, 40% of the field is off with Michigan State and Western Michigan enjoying a bye. In Ohio things are even leaner with a whopping 63% of its FBS programs taking a bye – (3) Ohio State, Kent State, Miami, Ohio University and Toledo. That leaves (17) Cincinnati, Akron and Bowling Green as the only teams in action.
Over in Pennsylvania, only one of its three FBS programs are playing – Pitt (who is out of state at Georgia Tech) – while (5) Penn State and Temple are off. That leaves Iowa which has both of its only two FBS programs with a bye in Week 10 – (19) Iowa and Iowa State.