Week 10 of the 2022 college football schedule marks another significant turning point in the narrative of the season: the initial CFP rankings are out and there are only four weeks remaining until conference championship weekend.
It gives each of the 131 FBS programs a maximum of four games to make their cases: to the league title picture, to the bowl selectors, and, yes, to the CFP committee.
This is it.
On tap are 60 contests, none of which include an FCS club. With only 11 teams enjoying a bye, it’s the most FBS programs we’ve had participating since Week 5. It’s also the glorious beginning of four weeks of Tuesday and Wednesday nights being dedicated to MACtion.
According to Vegas the CFP ranked teams most likely to fall from grace in Week 10 are No. 1, No. 13, No. 20, and No. 23 – all underdogs to lower-ranked/unranked opponents. Of the top four teams – those in the coveted “we gotta lose to be out of the bracket” spots – only one is favored by more than eight points, (2) Ohio State which is a 38.5-point favorite this week.
Here’s Week 10’s mental checklist:
(1). The kickoff to mid-week MACtion features two games apiece on Tuesday and Wednesday nights – all four air on either ESPNU or ESPN2 and all but one starts at 7pm ET.
(2). Thursday night serves up two games – while C-USA has the 7pm ET slot on CBSSN, the game of the night features two Sun Belt heavyweights clashing on ESPN at 7:30pm ET.
(3). Friday night offers three matchups the best of which both air on ESPN2 at 7pm and 10:30pm ET.
(4). Saturday’s action starts 30 minutes early with Air Force/Army kicking at 11:30am ET on CBS. While the game of the week – and perhaps the season – is the clash between No. 1 and No. 3 at 3:30pm ET on CBS, the other three ranked vs. ranked matchups are all slated during primetime. The 7pm ET timeslot is a jackpot of goodness: No. 6 visits No. 10 on ESPN, No. 24 is at No. 13 on FS1, and (4) Clemson calls on Notre Dame over on NBC/Peacock. An hour later, at 8pm ET, No. 21 visits No. 22 on the ACC Network.
(5). If you’re up late, the 10:30pm ET timeslot offers a pair of games featuring two of the top three Pac-12 teams – ranked No. 9 and No. 12 respectively – in conference play.
Tuesday, Nov. 1
7pm ET – ESPNU – Ball State at Kent State – Ball State won 27-20
7:30pm ET – ESPN2 – Buffalo at Ohio – Ohio won 45-24
Wednesday, Nov. 2
7pm ET – ESPNU – Central Michigan at Northern Illinois
7pm ET – ESPN2 – Western Michigan at Bowling Green
Dial this one in to see Bowling Green senior DL Karl Brooks (#11) – tied for the second-most sacks in the nation (7.5) and fifth in tackles for a loss (12) – take on a Western Michigan offense ranked No. 118 in the FBS in sacks allowed (27) and No. 105 in tackles for a loss allowed (54).
Thursday, Nov. 3
7pm ET – CBSSN – UTEP at Rice
7:30pm ET – ESPN – Appalachian State at Coastal Carolina
Coastal Carolina’s defense has held six of its seven FBS opponents – all games resulting in wins – to 125 rushing yards per game. The biggest successes were holding an Army offense averaging 334 ground yards (No. 2 in the FBS) to 202 and a Georgia State attack averaging 232 (No. 10) to 78. The sum-total of good makes the fact that Old Dominion – the No. 116 ranked rushing attack in the FBS, averaging 105 yards per game – blasted the Chanticleers for 323 ground yards seem almost ridiculous. But it happened and it resulted in the sole loss this season, a 49-21 beatdown at home. Cue up Appalachian State, which may seem less menacing with three losses but is the owner and operator of the No. 20 rushing attack in the Americas, and this one’s got intrigue written all over it.
Friday, Nov. 4
7pm ET – ESPN2 – Duke at Boston College
7pm ET – CBSSN – UMass at UConn
10:30pm ET – ESPN2 – (23) Oregon State at Washington
Oregon State is ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2013 and earned mention in the CFP rankings for the first time in program history. To keep the good times rolling the Beavers’ pass defense – ranked No. 2 in the Pac-12 – will have to contain a Washington offense ranked No. 1 – in the entire country – in passing yards per game. Will Oregon State be the defense that showed up vs. (9) USC – holding a Trojan attack averaging 308 air yards per game (No. 15 in the nation) to 180 – or instead will it be the unit that gave up 345 yards to a Washington State offense averaging 273 (No. 36)? Players to watch include Husky junior QB Michael Penix Jr. (#9), a transfer from Indiana and the No. 1 passer in the FBS, and sophomore WR Rome Odunze (#1), the No. 5 receiver.
Saturday, Nov. 5
11:30am ET – CBS – Air Force vs. Army – at Arlington, Texas
While it’s no surprise that Air Force and Army are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in rushing yards per game did you know that the Black Knights’ defense is ranked No. 126 vs. the run? Only five programs have been more generous and, if that weren’t bad enough, the average of 212 yards per game allowed includes two matchups with FCS opponents. Of the five FBS foes only one has an offense currently ranked in the top third of the FBS in rushing – Georgia State at No. 10, averaging 232 ground yards per game. Army allowed a season-high 299 yards and four scores in that contest, losing 31-14. Players to watch include Falcon senior RB Brad Roberts (#20), No. 9 in the FBS in yards per game and tied for No. 3 in rushing TDs.
Noon ET – FOX – Texas Tech at (7) TCU
The common thread in TCU’s nearest misses this season are passing yards allowed. Where the Horned Frogs’ defense gave up an average of 226 air yards in its five victories decided by double-digit margins, it allowed 323 in its three wins decided by fewer than ten points. Included in that grouping are the only two times it’s given up 300-plus air yards – 372 in the eight-point win over SMU and 351 in the seven-point decision over Kansas. If Texas Tech has a chance vs. the Frogs, it’s got to find a way to stabilize its’ passing attack. While it may be ranked No. 4 in the FBS, it’s fresh off a season-low 159-yard performance in the 45-17 loss to Baylor, an outing that featured three quarterbacks who combined for five interceptions compelling many otherwise hopeful Red Raiders to put their therapists back on speed dial.
Noon ET – ABC – (2) Ohio State at Northwestern
Noon ET – ESPN – Florida at Texas A&M
Though there’s a lot not to like on Texas A&M’s statistical resume, the Aggies are ranked dead last in the SEC in third-down conversions. The deficiency pairs well, surprisingly, against a Florida defense ranked No. 130 in the FBS in opponent’s third down conversions. Only one team in the entire nation – Colorado – has allowed more success on third down than have the Gators at 52.29 percent.
Noon ET – SEC Network – Kentucky at Missouri
Noon ET – ESPN2 – Minnesota at Nebraska
Tune in to this one to see the Big Ten’s second-best rushing attack, Minnesota, take on Nebraska’s defense, the most generous unit in the league. The Golden Gophers are averaging 223 ground yards per game – the twelfth best mark in the U.S.A. – while the Huskers are coughing up 190, earning them a No. 115 rank nationally. It could be a big day for Minnesota senior RB Mohamed Ibrahim (#24), the No. 4 back in the land in yards per game and tied for No. 3 in rushing TDs.
Noon ET – ACC Network – (17) North Carolina at Virginia
Noon ET – FS1 – Iowa at Purdue
This one pits Purdue’s passing attack – ranked No. 13 in the nation – against an Iowa defense ranked No. 10 nationally vs. the pass. The Hawkeyes have only given up more than 185 passing yards twice – 294 to (2) Ohio State (the No. 11 unit in the country, averaging 318) and a shocking 300 to Rutgers (No. 121, averaging 155). The Boilermakers, averaging 314 air yards, have only been held under 280 yards twice – 166 to Florida Atlantic (No. 59 in pass D, giving up 224) and 199 to Minnesota (No. 6, averaging 168). This is a solid strength vs. strength matchup.
Noon ET – ESPNU – (19) Tulane at Tulsa
The Green Wave’s first-ever mention in the CFP rankings has been driven by its defense, ranked No. 12 in the FBS in scoring and No. 19 vs. the pass. It sets up for an intriguing matchup with a Tulsa offense ranked No. 20 in the FBS in passing yards per game. Tulane has faced three other passing attacks ranked in the top third of the nation this season, holding a Houston offense averaging 277 yards (No. 32 in the FBS) to 208, limiting an East Carolina group averaging 297 (No. 18) to 288 and giving up a season-high 312 to a Memphis unit averaging 284 (No. 27). Tulsa – headlined by senior WR Keylon Stokes (#2), the No. 3 receiver in the FBS – is the next in a series of big tests for a Tulane program which hasn’t scored eight wins since 2002.
Noon ET – Big Ten Network – Maryland at Wisconsin
12:30pm ET – RSN/ESPN3 – Georgia Tech at Virginia Tech
3pm ET – ESPN+ – Baylor at Oklahoma
3pm ET – ESPN+ – Georgia State at Southern Miss
Though there’s not a lot of ballyhoo surrounding this one, it offers a quality strength vs. strength matchup pairing Georgia State’s elite rushing attack – ranked No. 10 in all the land – with a Southern Miss D ranked No. 17 nationally vs. the run. Where the Golden Eagles held their last three opponents to a combined total of 113 rushing yards, the Panthers hung up 782 on their last three.
3:30pm ET – CBS – (1) Tennessee at (3) Georgia
Tennessee’s epic 8-0 run is one of the best storylines this season and the Volunteers, like Georgia, look unstoppable. But there’s a dirty little secret hiding in the numbers. What if I told you that only five teams in the entire nation have given up 300-plus passing yards per game and that Tennessee is one of them? After holding its first three opponents (Ball State, Pitt, and Akron) to an average of 261 air yards, the Vols’ D coughed up 403 to its next three (Florida, No. 10 LSU, and No. 6 Alabama). What happened next? UT came out last Saturday and smothered Kentucky – an offense that had averaged 242 air yards – allowing only 98. This week it’s Georgia, which is currently No. 8 nationally in passing yards per game, making the Bulldogs far-and-away the best air attack its faced. Flip the script and UGA – currently No. 13 in the nation vs. the pass – is also the best defense the Vols’ No. 2 ranked pass offense has played this year.
Now for the big BUT…did you know that Georgia’s top-ranked defense – which is now without its’ top pass rusher – has only faced one offense ranked better than No. 80 in the nation in passing yards per game? Yep. The sole exception was (8) Oregon, currently at No. 23. But where the Ducks are averaging 290 air yards per game (the Bulldogs held them to 173 in the opener), the Volunteers are pumping out 353. If there was ever a game not to miss, this is it.
3:30pm ET – FS1 – (18) Oklahoma State at Kansas
3:30pm ET – Big Ten Network – Michigan State at (16) Illinois
3:30pm ET – ESPN – (8) Oregon at Colorado
What you’ve got here is the best offense in the Pac-12 visiting the league’s worst defense. Where Oregon is ranked No. 5 in the FBS in scoring, No. 9 in rushing yards per game, and No. 23 in passing, Colorado is No. 129 in scoring D, No. 130 vs. the run, and No. 88 vs. the pass. This is not good.
3:30pm ET – ABC – (15) Penn State at Indiana
3:30pm ET – ACC Network – (20) Syracuse at Pitt
3:30pm ET – ESPN2 – (25) UCF at Memphis
3:30pm ET – Pac-12 Network – Washington State at Stanford
3:30pm ET – ESPN+ – West Virginia at Iowa State
3:30pm ET – Stadium – UTSA at UAB
This week’s way under the radar selection, this one features the No. 7 ranked passing attack in college football – UTSA – taking on a UAB defense ranked No. 9 vs. the pass. Where the Roadrunners hung up 359 air yards on an Army defense giving up an average of 192 (No. 23 in the FBS), the Blazers gave up only 128 passing yards to a Western Kentucky offense averaging 318 (No. 12).
4pm ET – SEC Network – Liberty at Arkansas
4pm ET – ESPNU – Navy at Cincinnati
While it would be tough to argue that Navy poses a serious threat in upsetting the Bearcats, its’ triple-option offense might be more of a challenge than advertised. When you think about the Luke Fickell era at Cincinnati it’s likely a stifling, relentless defense that comes to mind. While that perception is well-earned, the 2022 product is young, losing five defensive starters including the top three tacklers from a unit that finished last year ranked No. 5 in scoring. It’s a situation that is reflected in UC’s performance vs. the run this year where it’s held four of its seven FBS opponents to, on average, 63 ground yards per game only to allow the other three 235. It’s no coincidence that the mishaps occurred against the three best rushing offense’s Cincy has played this year – Arkansas (#6 in the FBS), UCF (#8), and South Florida (#55). The Midshipmen are ranked one step above the Knights – who handed the Bearcats their first lost last Saturday – in rushing yards per game at No. 7.
7pm ET – ESPN – (6) Alabama at (10) LSU
The common denominator in LSU’s two losses this season is a struggle to establish the running game. Where the Tigers averaged 212 ground yards in their six wins, that number plummeted to 97 in the two losses – a 139-yard day in the opener vs. Florida State and a season-low 55 in the defeat vs. (1) Tennessee. Cue up Alabama, the No. 12 ranked rushing defense in our great land, and LSU will have to fight for every single yard to earn its first home win against the Tide since 2010. Alabama’s only coughed up 100-plus ground yards twice this season – 187 in the win vs. Arkansas (No. 6 in the FBS in rushing offense, averaging 245 yards per game) and then 182 in the loss at (1) Tennessee (No. 25, averaging 200). LSU is averaging 183 rushing yards per game, No. 42 in the FBS.
7pm ET – FS1 – (24) Texas at (13) Kansas State
What’s stood out in Texas’ three losses this season is a failure to convert third downs. Where the Longhorns were successful 48.64 percent of the time in their five wins, they were only 25.32 percent in the three defeats including skidding to a season-low 17.65 percent mark in the loss at (18) Oklahoma State. Kansas State’s defense is ranked No. 28 in the FBS/No. 2 in the Big 12 on opponent’s third-down tries, allowing a 33.33 percent success rate.
7pm ET – NFL Network – Houston at SMU
7:30pm ET – NBC/Peacock – (4) Clemson at Notre Dame
7:30pm ET – ABC – Florida State at Miami Fla.
7:30pm ET – Big Ten Network – (5) Michigan at Rutgers
As 26-point underdogs, Rutgers doesn’t look like a likely candidate to ruin the Big Ten’s perfect ending between undefeated (2) Ohio State and (5) Michigan teams. But did you know that where the Wolverines’ offense – ranked No. 8 in the FBS in scoring – is a run-dominant affair (ranked No. 5 in rushing yards per game vs. 86 in passing) that Rutgers’ defense is ranked No. 19 – in the country – vs. the run? Of course all that optimism needs to be qualified by pointing out that where the Knights gave up an average of 60 ground yards to six of its opponents, it got blasted with 252 and 253 by its other two. PS, the “other” two guys are also the only two offenses that Rutgers has faced ranked in the top half of the FBS in rushing yards per game (No. 2 Ohio State and Minnesota). Though mighty Michigan losing at the birthplace of college football sounds like sheer nonsense, a shocking upset isn’t shocking if we all see it coming. You can quote me on that.
7:30pm ET – ESPN2 – Auburn at Mississippi State
7:30pm ET – Pac-12 Network – Arizona at (14) Utah
7:30pm ET – ESPNU – James Madison at Louisville
8pm ET – ACC Network – (21) Wake Forest at (22) NC State
10:30pm ET – FS1 – (12) UCLA at Arizona State
10:30pm ET – ESPN – Cal at (9) USC
Though Cal’s defense has done reasonably well vs. the run (currently ranked No. 4 in the Pac-12/No. 37 in the FBS), it has been on the struggle bus against the pass. Only five teams in the entire nation have given up, on average, more passing yards than have the Golden Bears with 292. It’s the same group that just coughed up a season-high 412 air yards to (8) Oregon. And where the Ducks are averaging 290 passing yards per game (No. 23 in the FBS), this week’s opponent, USC, is averaging 308 (No. 15). The Trojans are fresh from a season-high 411-yard outing vs. an Arizona defense allowing 267 (No. 108). Keep an eye out for USC sophomore QB Caleb Williams (#13), an Oklahoma transfer who’s No. 11 in the nation in yards per game, No. 3 in TD passes, and No. 11 in passer rating.
OFF THIS WEEK (11)
- American: East Carolina
- C-USA: Florida Atlantic
- Independents: New Mexico State
- MAC: Akron, Eastern Michigan, Miami Ohio, Toledo
- Mountain West: Nevada, Wyoming
- SEC: (11) Ole Miss
- Sun Belt: Arkansas State
FIRST-EVER MEETINGS (3)
- Georgia State at Southern Miss
- James Madison at Louisville
- Liberty at Arkansas
7: (5) Michigan has won 7-straight over Rutgers (only-ever loss in 2014)
9: (2) Ohio State has won 9-straight over Northwestern (last loss in 2004)
9: Pitt has won 9-straight home games over (20) Syracuse (last loss there in 2001)
12: (18) Oklahoma State has won 12-straight over Kansas (last loss in 2007)
13: South Carolina has won 13-straight over Vanderbilt (last loss in 2008)
- Arkansas has NEVER lost to a current Independent program (7-0)
- Liberty has NEVER beaten a current SEC program (0-2)
- Maryland has NEVER beaten Wisconsin (0-3)
- Middle Tennessee has NEVER won AT Louisiana Tech (0-3)
- South Alabama has NEVER won AT Georgia Southern (0-4)
- South Florida has NEVER won AT Temple (0-4)
HARDWARE UP FOR GRABS
THE $5 BITS OF BROKEN CHAIR TROPHY – Minnesota at Nebraska – Saturday, Noon ET, ESPN2 – series started in 1900 – Minnesota leads 35-25-2 and has won three-straight.
Heralded by some as the “best CFB trophy of the modern era” the $5 Bits of Broken Chair dates back to 2014 when Minnesota’s mascot and Nebraska’s fake coach (now ex-fake coach) exchanged words on Twitter. Basically, @GoldyGopher challenged @FauxPelini to a “friendly wager.” How did the usurper coach respond? “Ok how about if we win you give me $5, if you win, I get to smash a wooden chair over your back?”
You can’t make this stuff up.
THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF’S TROPHY – Air Force vs. Army (at Choctaw Stadium, Arlington, Texas) – Saturday, 11:30am ET, CBS – series started in 1959 – Air Force leads 37-18-1 but Army has won two-straight and four of the last five.
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 13-10 on Oct. 1. 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, and then sink Navy on Saturday, Dec. 10 in Philadelphia, they’ll retain the trophy, which they’ve had since 2020.
THE GOLDEN SCREWDRIVER – Hawaii at Fresno State – Saturday, 10:30pm ET, FS2 – series started in 1938 – Fresno State leads 29-24-1 but Hawaii has won two-straight.
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 all began in 2002 when Hawaii visited Fresno State and scored a 31-21 victory. At the end of the game fans got rowdy resulting in then Warrior head coach June Jones claiming to have been hit in the head by a screwdriver hurled from the FSU stands. 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 SADDLE TROPHY – Texas Tech at (7) TCU – Saturday, Noon ET, FOX – series started in 1926 – Texas Tech leads 32-29-3 but TCU has won three-straight.
A renewed tradition, the “Battle for the Saddle” was reignited in 2017. The original prize dates to 61-years ago, in 1961 (Tech’s second season in the Southwest Conference), when the Lubbock Avalanche Journal and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram combined forces and tagged the rivalry “The West Texas Championship of the Southwest Conference.” The original Saddle was in use until 1970 when it mysteriously disappeared after each school had won it five times. When TCU joined the Big 12 in 2012 there was a push to resurrect the award. The Horned Frogs have won the new Saddle four times vs. the Red Raiders’ once.
After scoring its sixth-straight win over (15) Penn State last Saturday, this week (2) Ohio State gets an opportunity to knock off Northwestern for the tenth consecutive time. Up next, it’s a home date vs. Indiana, which the Bucks have downed 26-straight times followed by a roadie at Maryland, a team they’ve won seven in a row over. Oh wait – they’ve also never lost to the Terrapins. If OSU completes the circuit, it will come into its regular-season finale vs. (5) Michigan on a 52-win run against its last four opponents.