Week 10 picks: No. 4 Ole Miss, No. 7 TCU going down
Editor’s note: Every Thursday during the season, Bruce Feldman and Stewart Mandel will present their picks for the week.
Below are Week 10’s selections (all times ET). Enjoy.
TCU (-5.5) at WEST VIRGINIA (3:30, ABC)
Mandel: The Horned Frogs are in my top four, even if not the committee’s, but this is unquestionably a tough test. The Mountaineers previously took down Baylor in Morgantown. TCU’s played only two road games, with one of them at SMU. West Virginia receiver Kevin White creates much the same matchup problems that Baylor gave the Horned Frogs, and the Mountaineers’ defense is just good enough to slow down Trevone Boykin a little. I smell couches burning. West Virginia 34, TCU 30.
Feldman: Morgantown can be a nutty place to play and both teams come in hot. Tony Gibson has got the Mountaineers playing very well on D while the new Horned Frogs OCs have done the same for TCU. Dana Holgorsen has worked with both Doug Meacham and Sonny Cumbie, and I think WVU will be able to slow Trevone Boykin a little while the Mountaineers’ O and clutch kicking game comes through for the upset in the crazy Big 12. WVU 38, TCU 35.
GEORGIA (-13) vs. FLORIDA (3:30, CBS)
Mandel: Treon Harris will get the start at quarterback for Florida, which should spark the Gators’ offense a bit since, well, it can’t possibly get any worse. But save for one bad game against South Carolina, Georgia’s defense has been stout. Florida’s has, too, but if the Dawgs pound the ball with RB Nick Chubb and move the chains, they don’t need to score a lot of points — just pounce on the inevitable Florida turnovers. Georgia 27, Florida 13.
Feldman: Even without Todd Gurley, the Dawgs have enough firepower on offense with Nick Chubb (averaging over 172 rushing yards in his two games as a starter) to handle a struggling UF team desperate for some fireworks on offense. Plus, the Dawgs have some studs emerging as stars getting after the opposing QB. Georgia 20, Florida 10.
AUBURN (+2) at OLE MISS (7 p.m., ESPN)
Mandel: It’s time to once again break out Bruce’s Body Blow Theory. Ole Miss’ defense, while spectacular to this point in allowing a national-best 10.5 points per game, took a pounding in last week’s 10-7 loss to LSU. The Tigers ran the ball 55 times. Now Ole Miss has to turn around and play another physical, run-first offense, only this one with a quarterback, Nick Marshall, who can stretch the field as well. This is the week the Rebels’ dam breaks. Auburn 27, Ole Miss 20.
Feldman: The Rebels come back home after playing in a very physical game at LSU and now they have to deal with another punishing team with a more potent — and more vexing — attack. And the Rebels are without play-making LB Denzel Nkemdiche, who is out for the season now with an ankle injury. Bo Wallace also is coming off a dreadful game, and I’m not sold that he can have a big bounce-back here. Auburn 20, Ole Miss 14.
STANFORD (+7.5) at OREGON (7:30 p.m., FOX)
Mandel: Stanford wrote the blueprint for slowing down Marcus Mariota and the Ducks. Its 3-4 defense, No. 1 in the country (3.72 yards per play), sends in swarms of pass rushers, while its back-end defenders make tackles in space. And this year’s Oregon’s O-line is more vulnerable than years past. These Cardinal lack the ball-control rushing attack of years past, but if the defense keeps the score down, Kevin Hogan and the offense aren’t potent enough to take advantage. Oregon 24, Stanford 17.
Feldman: For as much trouble as the Cardinal have given Oregon the past few years, I believe Marcus Mariota is ready to finally beat Stanford. The Ducks have a more physical style this season with bruising freshman Royce Freeman in the mix to take some heat off Mariota. Also, I don’t buy that Stanford has enough on offense to keep up with Mariota this time. Oregon 31, Stanford 17.
ARKANSAS (+10.5) at MISSISSIPPI STATE (7:15 p.m., ESPN2)
Mandel: Bret Bielema tweeted after the committee rankings came out Tuesday that the “Top 6 in #CFBPlayoff looks like half of an Arkansas Razorback schedule card.” Indeed, this will be his team’s third game against one of those top-six teams with another still to come, and hardly an ideal one for Arkansas to snap its 16-game SEC losing streak. Expect Dak Prescott and Josh Robinson to run wild as the clang of cowbells slice through the night air at Davis-Wade Stadium. Mississippi State 45, Arkansas 20.
Feldman: The Dogs return home after a shaky trip to Kentucky. Expect Dak Prescott to keep rolling along against a visiting Arkansas team that hasn’t won an SEC game in a very, very long time. This is the Hogs’ first road trip since Sept. 13 and I’m not sure they have enough of a passing game now to take advantage of some Bulldogs question marks. Miss. State 31, Arkansas 17.
NOTRE DAME (-14) vs. NAVY (8 p.m., CBS)
Mandel: In his brief stint as Georgia Southern’s head coach in 2006, Brian VanGorder unwisely scrapped the program’s famed triple-option offense. Now Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator, he’ll face that dreaded system for the first time since 2004. Fortunately the Irish have had two weeks to prepare for the Midshipmen, and fortunately they still have Everett Golson, Corey Robinson, Will Fuller and Tarean Folston, who will be too much for Navy’s defense. Notre Dame 38, Navy 20.
Feldman: The Irish had some extra time to get ready for the Navy offense and that’ll help. QB Keenan Reynolds is coming off a 251-yard rushing performance against SJ State, but he won’t have enough help around him to keep this game interesting in the second half. Notre Dame 38, Navy 17.
OKLAHOMA STATE (+14.5) at KANSAS STATE (8 p.m., ABC)
Mandel: The Cowboys’ season has gone south ever since they hit the meat of their schedule (though the signs began when they faced Kansas). Tyreek Hill is their only real offensive difference-maker. K-State, on the other hand, seems to really be clicking with QB Jake Waters, WR Tyler Lockett and direct-snap touchdown machine Charles Jones. The Wildcats cruise so long as they’re not looking ahead to next week’s TCU showdown. Kansas State 31, Oklahoma State 14.
Feldman: Jake Waters is playing very well, especially on third downs, while OSU — with the nation’s No. 77 defense — gets back on the road in a tailspin, having lost its last two games by an average score of 38-10. K-State 34, Oklahoma State 14.
ARIZONA (+6.5) at UCLA (10:30, ESPN)
Mandel: UCLA played one glorious game on Sept. 25, when it crushed Arizona State, 62-27. The 6-2 Bruins have basically been shaky in every game before and since, barely surviving both Cal and Colorado the past two weeks. Conversely, Rich Rod’s Wildcats seem to be trending upward after struggling earlier in the year. Scooby Wright gets to Brett Hundley a couple of times, and the Bruins fail to keep pace in a shootout with Anu Solomon’s ‘Cats. Arizona 45, UCLA 38.
Feldman: As tempted as I am to pick the home team, and the team that looks better on the hoof, I just buy the Cats are playing with more focus and have a knack for pulling off upsets. And we know they won’t have problems on the road after having won at Autzen. I’m expecting another huge game from Zona LB Scooby Wright sparking an opportunistic D. Arizona 24, UCLA 23.
UTAH (+6) at ARIZONA STATE (11 p.m., FOX Sports 1)
Mandel: The 6-1 Utes are having a great season but they’re also living dangerously. Their past four games all went down to the wire, starting with a 28-27 loss to Washington State followed by wins over UCLA (30-28), Oregon State (29-23 in overtime) and USC (24-21). It’s tough to keep that up, especially when facing a Sun Devils team that’s playing much better on defense and looks more like its expected self on offense with last week’s return of QB Taylor Kelly. Arizona State 27, Utah 24.
Feldman: As good as the Utes D is playing, I think ASU QB Taylor Kelly can handle the heat. The Sun Devils have had fits dealing with the run, and Utah’s Devontae Booker has been outstanding, but look for ASU to be able to give more focus to containing him since the Utes’ passing game is hampered further without leading receiver Dres Anderson (out for the season with a knee injury). ASU 27, Utah 23.
MARYLAND (+3.5) at PENN STATE (Noon, ESPN2)
Mandel: This one’s purely a hunch based on the premonition that Penn State left its heart on the field in last week’s double-overtime loss to Ohio State and that Maryland will play more like the team that beat Iowa than the one that got crushed by the Buckeyes and Wisconsin. Maryland 30, Penn State 28.
TENNESSEE (+7) at SOUTH CAROLINA (7:30, SECN)
Feldman: I know how incredibly young the Vols are, but I liked how they battled against a physically more mature ‘Bama team last week and expect them to handle a struggling Gamecocks team that has dropped three in a row against SEC opponents and has been awful on D this season, ranking No. 100. Tennessee 27, South Carolina 24.
Mandel through Week 9: 64-36 straight-up, 52-48 vs. spread
Feldman through Week 9: 62-37 straight-up, 43-56 vs. spread
FLORIDA STATE (-4) at LOUISVILLE
Result: Florida State 42, Louisville 31
Mandel: The Cardinals have hardly been overwhelming, but they’re gaining momentum with the return of WR DeVante Parker and RB Michael Dyer, who could exploit FSU’s just-OK rushing defense. Jameis Winston will have his usual big night, but Louisville, tied for fifth nationally in sacks (28) and boasting stud DE Lorenzo Mauldin, can pressure without blitzing, which is huge given Winston’s uncanny success when blitzed. It’s Thursday night, and the Cards are a home underdog. Wait for it … Louisville 27, Florida State 24.
Feldman: Bobby Petrino with some added time to prep can be dangerous, and the Cards have gotten healthier with star WR DeVante Parker back while DE Lorenzo Mauldin figures to be a problem for the Noles line. But I still think Jameis Winston, Rashad Greene and Co. will be too much for a defense that hasn’t faced much in terms of proven passing attacks. FSU 27, Louisville 20.