By Stewart Mandel
November 01, 2012
College Football Pickoff: Week 10
Saturday, Nov. 3
8 p.m. ET (CBS) No. 1 Alabama (8-0) at No. 5 LSU (7-1)
The Game of the Year feels ... a little anticlimactic. The only reason to suggest the Tigers can pull the upset is their home crowd. LSU's swarming defense could limit Tide quarterback AJ McCarron, but the Tigers' rank 89th in pass efficiency and 81st in sacks allowed. They may not be any more effective moving the ball than they were in last year's BCS championship game shutout.
7 p.m. ET (FOX) No. 2 Oregon (8-0) at No. 18 USC (6-2)
Oregon will face by far its most talented opponent to date, which could be a bit shocking for the Ducks early. Meanwhile, electrifying Trojans receiver Marqise Lee lit up Oregon in last year's upset in Eugene. Still, the Ducks' athletic front four will pressure Matt Barkley, and Oregon's offense may take a bit to get going, but it will eventually wear down USC's D.
Noon ET (ESPN) No. 16 Texas A&M (6-2) at No. 17 Mississippi State (7-1)
It's easy to be down on the Bulldogs following last week's 38-7 loss at Alabama, but the Crimson Tide do that to a lot of opponents. Mississippi State is still a talented team, particularly on defense, where it's forced 20 turnovers (13th nationally) and ranks 21st in pass efficiency defense. Aggies star Johnny Manziel will do damage with his feet, but he'll throw a couple of costly interceptions.
10:30 p.m. ET (Pac-12) No. 24 Arizona (5-3) at No. 25 UCLA (6-2)
If USC loses to Oregon, this game will determine who has the inside track in the Pac-12 South, and it should be fun. Both teams have dynamic, dual-threat quarterbacks (Arizona's Matt Scott and UCLA's Brett Hundley), and neither can play a lick of defense (UCLA's unit is ranked 67th; Arizona's is ranked 89th.) After upsetting USC, however, RichRod's guys get it done again.
8 p.m. ET (ABC) Oklahoma State (5-2) at No. 3 Kansas State (8-0)
The last time K-State faced a Dana Holgorsen-style offense (against Holgorsen's West Virginia team), it cruised, 55-14. But there are two differences here: The Cowboys aren't as one-dimensional (running back Joseph Randle averages 127 yards per game) and their defense is competent (it ranks 26th nationally at 4.8 yards per play). Still, the Wildcats' defense should control the game.
7 p.m. ET (ESPN2) No. 10 Clemson (7-1) at Duke (6-3)
The Blue Devils took one on the chin last week, losing 48-7 at Florida State. Can the Wallace Wade Stadium crowd help lift them to an enormous turnaround upset? ... No. Duke quarterback Sean Renfree may have some early success against a vulnerable Tigers defense, but Clemson's Tajh Boyd (67.7 percent completions, 20 touchdowns, six interceptions) is on a whole different level.
10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2) Arizona State (5-3) at No. 13 Oregon State (6-1)
Quarterback Sean Mannion's four interceptions and wideout Markus Wheaton's concussion doomed the Beavers in last week's 20-17 loss at Washington. But now Mike Riley is going back to Cody Vaz, who impressed during two starts when Mannion was injured, and Wheaton should return. That should be enough against an Arizona State defense that's been exposed the past two weeks.
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN2) Texas (6-2) at No. 20 Texas Tech (6-2)
The Red Raiders have suffered blowout losses to Big 12 pacesetters Oklahoma and Kansas State, but this seems like a more favorable matchup. Texas Tech's receivers should rack up yards after catch against the Longhorns' tackling-averse defense (106th nationally), while struggling quarterback David Ash will face the nation's 20th-ranked pass efficiency defense.
3 p.m. ET (FOX) TCU (5-3) at No. 23 West Virginia (5-2)
West Virginia had a bye week to pick up the pieces following consecutive routs at the hands of Texas Tech and K-State. Geno Smith and the Mountaineers' offense figure to rediscover their rhythm against a disappointing TCU defense currently ranked 79th against the pass (7.4 yards per attempt). The Horned Frogs also lack the firepower to exploit WVU's horrendous defense.
3:30 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN2) No. 21 Nebraska (6-2) at Michigan State (5-4)
While the Spartans have been miserable offensively, their defense is suffocating. Michigan State ranks fifth nationally in total defense (4.3 yards per play), 10th in points allowed (15.0) and last week held Wisconsin star Monteé Ball to 46 yards on 22 carries. Meanwhile, quarterback Andrew Maxwell has showed just enough improvement of late to make the attack functional.
Record Last Week: 3-7               Record This Season: 53-37

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