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  • With less than a month until the College Football Playoff field is set, there's no time left to waste before making a move. Our experts predict who will start November off on the right foot.
By The SI Staff
November 02, 2017

In November, every week features several separator games for the teams still harboring playoff and conference title hopes, and the first Saturday of the regular season’s final month is naturally loaded with matchups that should propel the winner into the stretch-run spotlight and relegate the loser to the ranks of the also-rans. Who will prevail in a battle of elite quarterbacks when Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph lead Oklahoma and Oklahoma State into Bedlam? How will Alabama respond to being ranked No. 2 in the initial College Football Playoff rankings? Will USC be the first team to have an answer for the Khalil Tate Show that has put Arizona in Pac-12 contention?

Below, our experts make their picks for Week 10’s biggest games, taking turns defending their selections.

Season-long standings

Chris Johnson: 85–27 (75.9%)
Molly Geary: 80–32 (71.4%)
Andy Staples: 77–35 (68.8%)
Bruce Feldman: 69–34 (67.0%)
Scooby Axson: 64–34 (65.3%)
Eric Single: 73–39 (65.2%)​
Joan Niesen: 70–42 (62.5%)

Penn State at Michigan State (Noon ET, FOX)

Chris Johnson picks Penn State: There's some potential for a hangover after a crushing come-from-ahead loss to Ohio State last week in Columbus, but the Nittany Lions will get back on track against a Michigan State team that won't be able to match them score for score. Another thing that will get back on track: Saquon Barkley's Heisman Trophy campaign. Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead ought to consider having quarterback Trace McSorley use Moana song lyrics to make calls at the line of scrimmage.

Auburn at Texas A&M (Noon ET, ESPN)

Andy Staples picks Auburn: The road team has won every game in this series since the Aggies joined the SEC. This game is at Kyle Field.

Ohio State at Iowa (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)

Bruce Feldman picks Ohio State: Nate Stanley is a very talented young QB who is playing well, but the Hawkeyes’ O-line is not ready to handle a loaded Buckeyes defensive front. Iowa struggles to run the ball against decent D-lines. This group they’ll face Saturday is on a whole other level.​

Iowa State at West Virginia (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Joan Niesen picks Iowa State: It’s no fun to pick against the Cyclones at this point, and I do think Iowa State is a better team than West Virginia. A road win will be tough, but it’s not like Matt Campbell’s team hasn’t pulled a big one off this year—and it has the defense to slow West Virginia’s attack.​

​Stanford at Washington State (3:30 p.m. ET, FOX)

Eric Single picks Stanford: After flirting with disaster by giving Bryce Love an extra week to heal up against Oregon State, Stanford won't mess around with their superstar back's availability any longer. Washington State's defense receives no respite after getting steamrolled by Khalil Tate and Arizona.​

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State (4 p.m. ET, FS1)

Andy Staples picks Oklahoma: If you can block Oklahoma’s pass rush, you can throw all over the Sooners. But Oklahoma State’s last game against a team with talent similar to Oklahoma’s (Texas) did not inspire confidence. Plus, Baker Mayfield has been borderline unstoppable in recent weeks.​

​Texas at TCU (7:15 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Scooby Axson picks TCU: Look for the Horned Frogs to play inspired football following an upset loss to Iowa State last weekend. They still have plenty to play for with a trip to Oklahoma looming and a possible Big 12 title game berth and playoff spot within reach if they win out.

UCF at SMU (7:15 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Molly Geary picks UCF: There's some uncertainty surrounding this game for the Knights, as head coach Scott Frost potentially could not be on the sideline due to the pending birth of his first child, but UCF's elite offensive attack (averaging 49.6 points per game) led by QB McKenzie Milton will overpower the Mustangs.

Minnesota at Michigan (7:30 p.m. ET, Fox)

Chris Johnson picks Michigan: The Wolverines may no longer be a viable contender for the College Football Playoff, but they can spend the rest of this season giving promising redshirt freshman quarterback Brandon Peters valuable experience against Big Ten defenses. The Minnesota game will serve as the first of two warmup sessions (the other is a Nov. 11 trip to Maryland) before Peters guides Michigan through the most challenging part of its schedule: at Wisconsin (Nov. 18), vs. Ohio State (Nov. 25).

LSU at Alabama (8 p.m. ET, CBS)

Bruce Feldman picks Alabama: Last year the Tigers gave the Tide all they could handle for three and a half quarters, but that group had more experience and more playmakers. Worse still, LSU’s inexperience on the O-line is an even bigger concern on the road in Tuscaloosa, and it’s a stretch to think quarterback Danny Etling can stretch Nick Saban’s defense enough to give running back Derrius Guice more room to get going.

Virginia Tech at Miami (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

Eric Single picks Miami: Virginia Tech feels like exactly the type of steady team that would end Miami's undefeated start. But I'm going to ride the Canes until they've wrung every last drop of magic out of that turnover chain and that boom-or-bust offense.

Arizona at USC (10:45 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Joan Niesen picks USC: Even though Arizona ripped off four straight wins in October, I’m not sure it has enough to go into Los Angeles and beat USC at home, especially if the Trojans can sustain the offensive balance they used to put up 48 points in their win over Arizona State last week.

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