Ranking the top Week 10 college football games you should be watching on Saturday.
1. No. 5 Notre Dame at Pitt, Noon ET, ABC
Those who predicted Notre Dame’s demise after a season-ending injury to starting quarterback Malik Zaire have been proven dead wrong. Backup DeShone Kizer has come through in the clutch for the Fighting Irish. Last week he led the program’s third fourth-quarter comeback, this time in a 24-20 win at No. 22 Temple. Now Kizer and his offense must hit the road against Pitt, which saw its four-game winning streak snapped in a 26-19 loss to North Carolina last week. The Irish defense will have its hands full with Panthers receiver Tyler Boyd.
2. Duke at North Carolina, Noon ET, ESPN2
It’s hard not to feel bad for Duke. Were it not for Miami’s miraculous kick return that probably shouldn’t have counted, the Blue Devils would have beaten the Hurricanes last week. They also would have shared North Carolina’s 4-0 ACC record heading to Chapel Hill this Saturday. Instead Duke and its defense, which has given up just 16.1 points per game, must bounce back against the Tar Heels and the league’s No. 2 scoring offense (36.9 points per game). Larry Fedora and North Carolina can effectively wrap up the Coastal Division with a win this weekend.
3. Kentucky at Georgia, Noon ET, SEC Network
Coach Mark Richt isn’t writing the eulogy for Georgia’s 2015 season just yet. “What we've done to this point really doesn't define us as much as what we do from here on,” Richt told reporters this week. Still, it’s hard to dispute that the 5-3 Dawgs have underachieved this year. They host Kentucky this week after laying an egg in a 27-3 loss to Florida last week. But the Wildcats are looking to bounce back, as well, after a 52-21 loss to Tennessee. If Patrick Towles and company sink Georgia in Athens, the firestorm surrounding Richt will become even more deafening.
1. No. 16 Florida State at No. 1 Clemson, 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
Clemson landed in the top spot of the College Football Playoff committee’s first set of rankings, and no one really batted an eye. That’s because few teams have looked as dominant as the Tigers in recent weeks. But given the lack of depth in the ACC, their matchup with Florida State is a must-win. The one-loss ‘Noles will look to spoil Clemson’s playoff bid. The problem is that Florida State’s roster is pretty banged up, though the program announced Thursday that stud running back Dalvin Cook has been cleared to play.
2. No. 8 TCU at No. 14 Oklahoma State, 3:30 p.m. ET, FOX
We’re 10 weeks into the season and TCU is just now playing its first ranked team. The eighth-ranked Horned Frogs travel to Stillwater with an 8-0 record and the No. 2 offense (48.9 points per game) in the country. Oklahoma State, meanwhile, sits quietly tied with TCU atop the Big 12 standings with a 5-0 league record. But the Cowboys also haven’t been truly tested. This matchup might come down to who makes the most stops: Both TCU and Oklahoma State rank among the Big 12’s top four teams in total defense.
3. No. 9 Iowa at Indiana, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
The undefeated Hawkeyes catch a lot of flack for their schedule. If the status quo remains, they’ll face just one ranked team (No. 21 Northwestern) this season. But according to the Sagarin ratings, Iowa’s strength of schedule (No. 47) is better than higher-ranked squads like Baylor (104st), Ohio State (68th), Michigan State (59th) and TCU (53rd). Still, coach Kirk Ferentz’s squad probably needs to win out to threaten for a playoff spot. Its first step is taking care of Indiana, the Big Ten’s third-most efficient offense at 6.0 yards per play.
1. No. 2 LSU at No. 4 Alabama, 8 p.m. ET, CBS
With the SEC’s top two rushers taking the field in Tuscaloosa, this matchup will be billed as a battle between running backs. But it’s also a meeting of playoff contenders: The Tigers and Crimson Tide checked in at No. 2 and No. 4, respectively, in the selection committee’s first rankings. Whatever happens, don’t expect a blowout: Since Nick Saban arrived at Alabama, six of the last nine meetings have been decided by seven points or fewer. The x-factor might be LSU quarterback Brandon Harris, who has thrown seven touchdowns and zero picks in his last three games.
2. Minnesota at No. 3 Ohio State, 8 p.m. ET, ABC
Last Saturday, Minnesota’s first game after coach Jerry Kill’s surprise resignation ended in disappointment, when the Gophers’ poor goal-line management resulted in a 29-26 loss against Michigan. Now they must travel to the Horseshoe to face Ohio State, which debuted at No. 3 in the first playoff rankings. But the Buckeyes are now forced to turn to quarterback Cardale Jones for a game after J.T. Barrett was arrested and suspended. Jones hasn’t been the most effective passer this year, so Minnesota could make things interesting.
3. Navy at No. 13 Memphis, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Memphis suddenly has a lot to play for. The Tigers were slotted at No. 13 in the first playoff rankings, a full nine spots higher than the next Group of Five team (No. 22 Temple). That means coach Justin Fuente’s team is the favorite for a New Year’s Six spot, if not more. But Memphis first must get by Navy, which has lost only to No. 5 Notre Dame this season. Last week Midshipmen quarterback Keenan Reynolds tied the NCAA record with his 77th career touchdown, so the Tigers’ defense, which ranks 81st nationally in yards per play allowed (5.78), can’t take a day off.