Week 10 of the 2021 college football schedule marks a significant turning point in the season. Where coming into Week 9 we were continuing to predict which teams might make the CFP mini bracket, this week we know which teams can win and stay in.
While the biggest snubs might be 8-0 Cincinnati at No. 6 and 9-0 Oklahoma at No. 8 (perhaps the most puzzling ranking in recent history) – what about 8-0 Wake Forest at No. 9 and poor UTSA – also perfect at 8-0 – which didn’t even make the rankings?
Overall, it’s 61 games and while it’s light on ranked vs. ranked matchups – there is only a precious one this week – it’s heavy on hardware with a season-high eight rivalry trophies up for grabs.
Note: From this week forward we’ll be utilizing the College Football Playoff rankings as opposed to the AP Top 25.
WHAT TO WATCH
Wednesday, Nov. 3
7pm ET – ESPNU – Central Michigan at Western Michigan
Tune in to this mid-week rivalry showdown to see the No. 8 receiver in the land – Western Michigan sophomore WR Skyy Moore (#24) – and the No. 8 back in the nation – Central Michigan freshman RB Lew Nichols III (#7). Both have earned 100-plus yard performances five times thus far. With CMU ranked dead last in the MAC vs. the pass as compared to WMU’s D’s top ranking vs. the run, look for Moore to have the advantage.
7pm ET – ESPN2 – Northern Illinois at Kent State
At 6-2 overall and 4-0 in conference play, Northern Illinois is the top dog in the MAC, a run fueled by an offense ranked a lofty No. 9 in the FBS in rushing yards per game. Cue up Kent State, ranked No. 117 nationally vs. the run and brace yourself for Week 10’s ground-a-palooza.
Thursday, Nov. 4
7:30pm ET – ESPN – Georgia State at Louisiana
Friday, Nov. 5
7:30pm ET – ESPN2 – Virginia Tech at Boston College
10:30pm ET – FS1 – Utah at Stanford
Saturday, Nov. 6
11:30am ET – CBS – Army vs. Air Force (at Choctaw Stadium, Arlington, Texas)
While it’s no surprise that the option offenses of Air Force and Army are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in the FBS in rushing yards per game – did you know that the Black Knights’ D is a lofty No. 7 nationally vs. the run while the Falcons are No. 13? Holy service academy! PS This is only the fourth time in history that Army and Air Force have met at a neutral location. Their first meeting, in 1959, took place in the Bronx, N.Y. while the second two games – in 1963 and 1965 – were both sited in Chicago.
Noon ET – FOX – (5) Ohio State at Nebraska
The Buckeyes are 15-point favorites over the 3-6 Huskers, but did you know that Nebraska’s defense held (8) Oklahoma (the No. 19 passing offense in the nation, averaging 295 yards per game) to 214 air yards in Week 4 and Purdue (No. 16 in passing yards per game, averaging 307) to 233 last week? Ohio State is averaging 346 air yards per game (No. 6 in the FBS), the best pass defense it’s faced this season is Penn State, which limited the Bucks to 305 in OSU’s narrowest victory of the season.
Noon ET – ABC – (9) Wake Forest at North Carolina
Noon ET – ESPN – Missouri at (1) Georgia
After limiting a Florida offense averaging 243 rushing yards per game (the sixth most in the nation) to 161 last week, this Saturday Georgia’s elite defense will try and shut down the No. 4 back in the FBS in Missouri’s senior RB Tyler Badie (#1).
Noon ET – SEC Network – Liberty at (16) Ole Miss
Achieving a rare trifecta of intrigue, the first ever-meeting between Liberty and Ole Miss features Hugh Freeze’s return to Oxford, the Flames’ opportunity to win their first-ever game vs. an SEC squad and – according to Vegas – a legitimate opportunity for an upset. Despite being ranked and playing a non-Power 5 member at home, Ole Miss is only favored by 9.5 points.
Noon ET – ESPNU – SMU at Memphis
Though the Mustangs are a lofty 7-1 while the Tigers are a disappointing 4-4, the two squads share similar DNA – elite air attacks paired with defenses which have struggled vs. the pass. Where SMU is ranked No. 9 nationally in passing yards per game, Memphis is No. 18. And where the Mustangs are No. 111 in the FBS vs. the pass, Memphis is No. 97. If you like seeing the ball flung through the air with wild abandonment, this one is for you.
Noon ET – ACC Network – (25) Pitt at Duke
Pitt – owner and operator of the fourth best passing attack in America – has a golden opportunity to rebound with a splash this week after its 38-34 loss to Miami Fla. last Saturday. Duke is currently ranked No. 125 nationally and dead last in the ACC vs. the pass – only five teams in the FBS have been more generous. Look for Panther senior QB Kenny Pickett’s (#8) (No. 6 in Vegas’ latest odds) Heisman stock to rise.
3:30pm ET – CBS – (13) Auburn at (14) Texas A&M
3:30pm ET – ABC – (3) Michigan State at Purdue
Despite all the well-earned glory of an 8-0 start, Michigan State’s defense is ranked a very un-Michigan State like No. 127 nationally and dead last in the Big Ten vs. the pass. Fresh off coughing up 406 air yards to (7) Michigan (averaging 215 passing yards per game), it’s the same unit that gave up 283 to a Northwestern passing attack averaging 181 and 266 to a Rutgers offense averaging 199. Enter stage left Purdue, the No. 16 ranked passing attack in America (averaging 307 yards per game) and wait just a second…
3:30pm ET – ESPN – (11) Oklahoma State at West Virginia
3:30pm ET – NBC – Navy at (10) Notre Dame
3:30pm ET – FOX – (12) Baylor at TCU
When this game kicks off it will have been 7652 days since TCU took the field without Gary Patterson at the helm. With Patterson out, the Horned Frogs will be led by assistant Jerry Kill who was formerly the head coach at two FBS programs – Northern Illinois (23-16 from 2008-10) and Minnesota (29-29 from 2011-15). Kill will have his hands full guiding TCU’s defense – ranked No. 118 nationally vs. the run – against a Baylor ground attack ranked No. 8 in the FBS in rushing yards per game.
3:30pm ET – ESPN2 – Tulsa at (6) Cincinnati
3:30pm ET – FS1 – Penn State at Maryland
3:30pm ET – CBSSN – Colorado State at Wyoming
4pm ET – SEC Network – (17) Mississippi State at Arkansas
This delicious pairing offers a double serving of strength vs. strength matchups. First up, it’s Mississippi State’s No. 5 nationally ranked passing attack taking on an Arkansas D ranked No. 8 in the FBS vs. the pass. If that weren’t enough it’s the Razorbacks No. 4 ranked (again in the nation) ground game vs. a Bulldog defense ranked No. 4 against the rush. It amounts to the SEC’s best passing attack taking on the No. 2 pass D – AND – the league’s No. 2 ground game vs. its No. 2 rush D.
4pm ET – ACC Network – (19) NC State at Florida State
7pm ET – ESPN – LSU at (2) Alabama
7pm ET – ESPN2 – Tennessee at (18) Kentucky
7pm ET – CBSSN – Boise State at (23) Fresno State
7:30pm ET – ABC – (4) Oregon at Washington
7:30pm ET – FOX – Indiana at (7) Michigan
7:30pm ET – FS1 – Texas at Iowa State
Texas’ defense has consistently struggled to stop the run this season, currently ranked No. 114 nationally and No. 9 in the Big 12 in rush D. It makes a potential rebound win at Iowa State – home to the No. 5 rusher in the FBS, junior RB Breece Hall (#28) – complicated. The Cyclones have won two-straight over the Longhorns and are favored by 6.5 points.
7:30pm ET – ESPNU – Houston at USF
Fresh off hanging up a season-high 412 yards and four TDs on SMU, this week Houston junior QB Clayton Tune (#3) gets South Florida home of the No. 104 ranked pass D in the FBS.
7:30pm ET – ACC Network – Clemson at Louisville
7:30pm ET – SEC Network – Florida at South Carolina
10:15pm ET – ESPN 2 – UTSA at UTEP
This game hardly has “headliner” written all over it but UTSA, as one of only six undefeated teams still standing, is ranked (at least in the AP and Coaches’ Polls) for the first time in program history. This week, it’s a roadie at UTEP standing between the Roadrunners and destiny, an opponent that offers two intriguing matchups. First up, it’s a battle of strengths pitting the No. 11 rusher in college football – UTSA junior RB Sincere McCormick (#3) – vs. a UTEP D quietly ranked No. 10 in the entire nation vs. the run. Next, it’s Miner sophomore WR Jacob Cowing (#6) – the No. 10 receiver in the FBS – against a Roadrunner defense ranked No. 102 nationally vs. the pass.
10:30pm ET – ESPN – USC at Arizona State
11pm ET – FS1 – (24) San Diego State at Hawaii
OFF THIS WEEK (10)
- ACC: Syracuse, Virginia
- Big 12: (8) Oklahoma, Texas Tech
- Independents: UConn
- MAC: Bowling Green, Buffalo
- Pac-12: UCLA, Washington State
- SEC: Vanderbilt
FIRST-EVER MEETINGS (1)
- Liberty at (16) Ole Miss
7: (1) Georgia has won 7-straight over Missouri (last loss in 2013)
8: (3) Michigan State has won 8-straight over Purdue (last loss in 2006)
9: Nevada has won 9-straight home games over San Jose State (only loss there in 2000)
10: Northern Illinois has won 10-straight over Kent State (last loss in 2001)
10: Toledo has won 10-straight home games over Eastern Michigan (last loss there in 1999)
12: Kansas State has won 12-straight over Kansas (last loss in 2008)
13: Penn State has won 13-straight games at Maryland (only loss there in 1961)
20: (7) Michigan has won 20-straight home games over Indiana (last loss there in 1967)
- Georgia State has NEVER beaten Louisiana (0-4)
- Louisville has NEVER beaten Clemson (0-6)
- Rutgers has NEVER beaten (21) Wisconsin (0-3)
- Stanford has NEVER beaten Utah at home (0-4)
- (14) Texas A&M has NEVER beaten (13) Auburn at home (0-4)
- Tulane has NEVER won at UCF (0-5)
- USF has NEVER beaten Houston in AAC play (0-5)
- UTEP has NEVER beaten UTSA at home (0-4)
Utah State at New Mexico State (Saturday, 4pm ET, FloFootball/CW El Paso)
Tune into this one to see the No. 2 receiver in the land – Utah State senior WR Deven Thompkins (#13) – take on a New Mexico State D ranked No. 116 nationally vs. the pass. Where Thompkins has earned 170-plus receiving yards on four occasions this season, NMSU has coughed up 350-plus three times thus far.
HARDWARE UP FOR GRABS
THE 100 MILES OF HATE – Middle Tennessee at Western Kentucky – Saturday, 3:30pm ET, Stadium – series started in 1914 – Middle Tennessee leads 35-34-1 but WKU has won five of the last six.
Located precisely 100-miles apart, Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee have shared conference membership at both the FCS (Ohio Valley) and FBS (Sun Belt and now C-USA) levels. They met consecutively from 1952 to 1985 and have played annually since 2014. The trophy itself is a whopper, a golden transportation-themed tribute to hating your nearest neighbor.
THE BELT – South Alabama at Troy – Saturday, 3:30pm ET, ESPN+ – series started in 2012 – Troy leads 6-3 and has won four of the last five.
Established in 2015 The Belt is just that, a championship belt complete with football bling. It may be the best swag in all of college football. The two schools are located a mere 175-miles apart in southern Alabama. The Trojans have worn the belt home on four occasions vs. the Jaguars’ twice.
THE BRONZE BOOT – Colorado State at Wyoming – Saturday, 3:30pm ET, CBSSN – series started in 1899 – Colorado State leads 59-48-5, the Rams’ win last season snapped a four-game losing skid.
Awarded to the winner of the “Border War” since 1968, the Bronze Boot is, as advertised, a bronzed jump boot formerly worn by Colorado State alum and Vietnam veteran Jeff Romero, Sr. In one of the coolest traditions associated with a rivalry game, the two schools’ ROTC detachments meet at the Wyoming/Colorado border each year after the contest with the game ball. The school scheduled to host the next meeting runs the ball back to its stadium. The Cowboys have captured the Boot 28 times vs. the Rams’ 25.
THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF’S TROPHY – Army vs. Air Force (at Choctaw Stadium, Arlington, Texas) – Saturday, 11:30am ET, CBS – series started in 1959 – Air Force leads 37-17-1 but Army has won three of the last four.
The second leg of 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 16 and the Black Knights with nine.
Air Force downed Navy 40-7 on Sept. 11. If the Falcons beat Army this Saturday, they’ll capture the Commander in Chief for the first time since 2016. If the Black Knights win, they can earn back-to-back titles for only the second time in history by beating Navy in West Rutherford, N.J. on Saturday, Dec. 11.
THE GOVERNOR’S CUP – Kansas State at Kansas – Saturday, Noon ET, FS1 – series started in 1902 – Kansas leads 65-48-5 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 31 Cups vs. Kansas’ 20, the 1987 game – coined the “Toilet Bowl” as it featured the 1-7 Jayhawks sparring with the 0-8 Cats – ended in a 17-17 tie.
THE MILK CAN – Boise State at (23) Fresno State – Saturday, 7pm ET, CBSSN – series started in 1977 – Boise State leads 15-7 but the two have split the last four.
The Milk Can – a.k.a. the “big metal can” – was the brainchild of dairy farmers from Fresno and Boise in 2005. Though the Bulldogs technically claimed the first Can in Fresno, the prize wasn’t ready/pasteurized until 2006 when it made its on-field debut after a Bronco victory in Boise. While the pair have clashed 14 times since the Milk Can was introduced, three of the meetings came in the MWC championship game. Boise State is 9-2 vs. Fresno State in regular-season action since 2006 and 2-1 in the title games.
THE RIP MILLER TROPHY – Navy at (10) Notre Dame – Saturday, 3:30pm ET, NBC – series started in 1927 – Notre Dame leads 77-13-1 and has won nine of the last ten.
Edgar “Rip” Miller was a member of Notre Dame’s Seven Mules, the line that blocked for the legendary Four Horseman from 1922-24. Miller went on to serve as an assistant at Navy from 1925-30, taking over the head job in 1931. After going 12-15-2 in three seasons, he stepped down and returned to his role as an assistant coach. In 1947 Miller was named an assistant athletic director in Annapolis, a job he kept until his retirement in 1974. His dual connection with Notre Dame and Navy made Miller a key part of the effort to establish an annual game between the two programs. The trophy bearing his name debuted in 2011 – the Irish have won eight Miller’s vs. the Midshipmen’s one, a 28-27 victory in Jacksonville, Fla. in 2016.
THE VICTORY CANNON and MICHIGAN MAC TROPHY – Central Michigan at Western Michigan – Wednesday, 7pm ET, ESPNU – series started in 1905 – Western Michigan leads 51-39-2 and has won eight of the last ten.
An actual trophy as opposed to an actual weapon, the Victory Cannon honors the cannons that both Central Michigan and Western Michigan traditionally discharge on game days. First awarded in 2008, it’s the travelling prize associated with what’s also known as the “Central-Western” rivalry. WMU has won the Cannon eight times vs. CMU’s five.
It’s also the first leg of the three-pronged Michigan MAC Trophy, awarded since 2005 to the annual victor in the Central Michigan/Eastern Michigan/Western Michigan series. EMU hosts WMU on Tuesday, Nov. 16, and visits CMU in the regular-season finale (Nov. 26). WMU – the current title holder – leads with seven Michigan MAC’s, followed by CMU with five and EMU with four.
While (9) Wake Forest’s visit to North Carolina this Saturday might look, feel, and smell like an ACC matchup, it’s not.
That’s right friend, when the Demon Deacons square off with the Tar Heels, they’ll technically be playing a non-conference game.
The unique arrangement dates to 2015 when the pair decided to schedule two games outside of an ACC slate that didn’t have them meeting for seven years.
According to North Carolina AD Bubba Cunningham
This is a unique opportunity to play a regional rival in years that fall outside the normal conference rotation. We have a long history with Wake Forest that has historical value and will generate interest within our fans.
While confusing and a bit bizarre, it’s a landmark practice that could – if replicated – transform scheduling. As Dan Wolken of USA Today Sports noted
In other words, instead of UNC and Wake Forest spending upwards of $1 million to fill a non-conference date with someone like Louisiana-Monroe or North Texas, they will play a more cost-effective game against a real rival, which will generate more fan interest and ticket sales.