Andy Staples looks ahead to the biggest storylines entering Week 10 of the 2013 season.
Friday, Nov. 1
9 p.m. ET (ESPN)
USC (5-3) at Oregon State (6-2) In the last two games -- a loss to Notre Dame and a win over Utah -- USC's defense has allowed 17 total points. But the offense failed to crack 20 points in either outing. The Trojans, losers of three straight in Corvallis, can slow Beavers QB Sean Mannion and receiver Brandin Cooks, but not enough to overcome their offensive flaws -- even with injured wideout Marqise Lee's likely return.
Saturday, Nov. 2
Noon ET (ABC/ESPN2)
No. 22 Wisconsin (5-2) at Iowa (5-3) Iowa is one of the few Big Ten teams with a defense that can slow Wisconsin's rushing attack (296.9 yards per game) -- the Hawkeyes have allowed just two rushing touchdowns in 2013. But Badgers quarterback Joel Stave (13 touchdowns, six interceptions) is capable of completing a deep pass when needed. Meanwhile, linebacker Chris Borland and the Wisconsin defense will shut down Iowa's offense.
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC)
No. 23 Michigan (6-1) at No. 24 Michigan State (7-1) The last time we saw Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner threw for 503 yards -- 369 to wideout Jeremy Gallon -- in a 63-47 win over Indiana on Oct. 19. This game will be nothing like that. With the turnover-prone Gardner facing the nation's No. 1 defense, the Wolverines will likely stick to their running game. But even if that strategy works, Michigan's poor road performances this fall don't bode well.
3:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
Navy (4-3) at Notre Dame (6-2) Since losing to Navy three times in four years from 2007-10, Notre Dame has won its last two meetings with the Midshipmen by scores of 56-14 and 50-10. The Fighting Irish's veterans seem to have the option figured out, and freshman linebacker Jaylon Smith played well last week at Air Force (eight tackles, one tackle for loss). Look for quarterback Tommy Rees to continue his recent success.
3:30 p.m. ET (CBS)
Florida (4-3) vs. Georgia (4-3) in Jacksonville, Fla. This year, the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party ought to be sponsored by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association given the number of injuries the two rivals have sustained. But Georgia is set to return star running back Todd Gurley (6.3 yards per carry). He and QB Aaron Murray are capable of far more damage than is Florida's anemic offense, even against the Bulldogs' 68th-ranked D.
6 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
No. 8 Auburn (7-1) at Arkansas (3-5) Increasingly desperate Arkansas coach Bret Bielema has taken some digs at Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, mostly because of Bielema's well-known contempt for the spread offense. Perhaps he resents the fact that the Tigers, who average 315.4 rushing yards per game, resemble the teams that he coached at Wisconsin. The Razorbacks' defense (No. 86 against the run) could be in for a long night.
7 p.m. ET (FOX)
No. 18 Oklahoma State (6-1) at No. 15 Texas Tech (7-1) Oklahoma State has won three straight games, but its offense is a work in progress -- QB Clint Chelf threw for just 78 yards in a rout of Iowa State last Saturday. The Cowboys' defense, on the other hand, has been solid all year, ranking eighth nationally (4.55 yards per play). They have also intercepted 13 passes, and turnovers should help them pull this game out.
7 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Tennessee (4-4) at No. 10 Missouri (7-1) Tennessee will give true freshman quarterback Josh Dobbs his first career start in place of the injured Justin Worley, and all Dobbs has to do is go up against national sack leader Michael Sam (10 sacks) and Missouri's formidable defense. It's hard to imagine the Tigers won't still be hungover from last Saturday's devastating loss to South Carolina, but they would have to implode to lose this one.
8 p.m. ET (ABC)
No. 7 Miami (7-0) at No. 3 Florida State (7-0) Miami has improved this season from No. 97 in 2012 to No. 17 nationally in total defense (4.85 yards per play). The Hurricanes should offer more resistance to Florida State QB Jameis Winston than did Clemson. But Miami QB Stephen Morris still can't be trusted against a top-flight defense, and tailback Duke Johnson has not been explosive against ranked foes (2.9 yards per carry) in his career.
Noon ET (ABC/ESPN2)
Virginia Tech (6-2) at Boston College (3-4) Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler -- who ran 3-9 Auburn's offense in 2012 -- has not saved the Hokies. Following last week's 13-10 loss to Duke, they rank 101st nationally in scoring offense (21.5 points per game). Boston College isn't much better, but the Eagles scored 34 against Florida State and were competitive at Clemson. Coach Steve Addazio's team is poised for a breakthrough.