Remember, remember the 5th of November.
Nov. 5 wasn’t circled on many calendars before the college season started, but it’s here now—and it is a whopper. Week 10 has the biggest game of the season in one timeslot, and it’s followed by a trap game for one Playoff hopeful and a roadtrip to Louisiana for another.
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Maryland at Wisconsin (-5)
The Terps are quietly putting together one of the best seasons in over a decade and enter this game at 6-2. One win in their last four would put this year on par with the best since Ralph Friedgen coached the team in 2010. Those two losses also came by one possession each. Here comes Wisconsin though, off of a bye week and built to play spoiler. Maryland has a history of falling victim in this spot, and they’re not favored in this one on the road, but this season’s been different for them already: can it continue? ‘
Matchup to watch: Maryland on passing downs. Jim Leonhard’s defense can feature some dizzying pressure packages for a quarterback to sift through, and if you get behind the chains, there’s nothing the Badgers would rather do than tee off. Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa will return to action after a knee injury, so Maryland will be as close to full strength as they’ve been for quite a while.
Texas Tech at TCU (-8.5)
The Frogs got what they feel is a dose of Playoff Disrespect on Tuesday. Although they’re undefeated, they were ranked behind a one-loss Alabama team. Well, they’ll get their first chance to prove the committee wrong against TCU. If Tech is to pull off the upset, look out for an aggressive gameplan that will try to create breaks by going for it on fourth down.
Matchup to watch: TCU vs. the slow start. The Frogs have started mighty slowly the last few weeks, in fact the fact that they were (barely) ahead against West Virginia was a pleasant surprise. Eventually they’ll need to get up and stay up in a game or it may come back to bite them.
Florida at Texas A&M (-3)
This is a game that will go a long way to determining whether one of these teams is going to miss a bowl of note. That’s not exactly the stakes we thought this game would come with back in August. But two less-than-stellar campaigns come to a head in College Station. Can either of these teams get out of their own way?
Matchup to watch: Connor Weigman vs. the expectations. The freshman took over the reins against Ole Miss and did play well, but he’ll be tested again against Florida now that a team has some film on him. One thing he won’t have to worry about is Florida edge Brenton Cox, who was dismissed from the team after the loss against Georgia.
UCF (-3.5) at Memphis, 3:30 p.m.
It’s unclear now who the Knights will start at quarterback, and Memphis will need all the help they can get with a struggling defense coming into this game. UCF will try to jump on the Tigers no matter who plays behind center.
Matchup to watch: UCF’s defense vs. Memphis’ offense in the low red zone. The Knights certainly aren’t bad on defense, but they have something of a bend-but-don’t break style, especially when things get not only inside the 20 in general, but inside the 10. Part of that has to do with their efficient run D, which has gone a long way to make them a tough team to score on.
Tennessee at Georgia (-8), 3:30 p.m.
This is the big one, and the one we’ve all been waiting for since it became clear Tennessee was for real a few weeks ago against Alabama. This is one of the biggest regular season football games that doesn’t involve Alabama or Ohio State in years, and it’s a huge moment for the Dawgs in Sanford Stadium, which doesn’t typically host huge matchups like this. Tennessee’s offense can’t really be stopped, but can Georgia’s defense contain it and assert themselves in this de facto SEC East championship game?
Matchup to watch: Georgia vs. the game script. We saw last year in the SEC Championship that if Georgia has to press on offense, the results may not exactly be great. If Georgia gets behind, how they’ll battle back against a Tennessee secondary that isn’t great will be a big subplot, especially as the health of receiver AD Mitchell is still in question. Tight end Brock Bowers gives Stetson Bennett a tremendous security blanket, but they’ll need more vertical threat if they get behind multiple scores against Tennessee’s capable front-7.
Liberty at Arkansas (-14), 4 p.m.
Hugh Freeze again returns to the SEC for a matchup in a place he’s familiar with: Fayetteville, Arkansas. Coincidentally, the team that Arkansas beat last week (Auburn) just fired its coach, and there’s certainly a chance Freeze could end up with that job in the end if some around the program get their way.
Matchup to watch: Raheim Sanders vs. everybody. Sanders is in striking distance of college football’s rushing title this season with a standout campaign. He’s already eclipsed 1,041 on the season with a 6.7 yards per carry average.
Clemson (-3.5) at Notre Dame, 7:30 p.m.
Clemson QB DJ Uiagelele is going back to where it all began. It was at Notre Dame Stadium in 2020 when he burst on the scene in what ultimately was a losing effort to fill in for an injured Trevor Lawrence. The last time we saw the Clemson signal caller, he was benched for a backup while struggling. He’ll start the game, but will he finish it?
Matchup to watch: Notre Dame offensive line vs. Clemson’s front. It doesn’t matter what happens to Clemson’s offense if the Fighting Irish can’t score. They’re a team in dire need of a playmaker beyond Micheal Mayer and their traditionally loaded offensive line is anything but this season. That’s not good when up against a Clemson front that is absolutely flush with talent.
Alabama (-13.5) at LSU, 7 p.m.
This one always has stakes, and as a big piece in the SEC West championship picture, it’s no different this year. LSU had been left for dead after a poor start to the season with two embarrassing losses against FSU and Tennessee, but the Tigers are much improved over the last couple weeks. This test will be stiff, but they do have a rabid Saturday night LSU crowd behind them in what assuredly will be a tremendous environment.
Matchup to watch: LSU’s offensive line vs. Alabama’s front. LSU’s o-line situation is no longer poor, but it still leaves a bit to be desired. Texas A&M showed a couple weeks ago that if you can’t block Bama, you’re going to have a bad time. The Tigers must be at their best up front for QB Jayden Daniles to help them keep up with Bryce Young.
Wake Forest (-3.5) at NC State, 8 p.m.
The Demon Deacons simply have to put the stench of their no good, very bad Week 9 behind them. Six giveaways and two more turnovers on downs made for one of the weirdest losses you will ever see last weekend.
Matchup to watch: Wake Forest’s defense vs. NC State’s offense. With a backup quarterback in due to Devin Leary’s injury, the Wolfpack were limited on offense. But they’ll have to find a way to keep up with Wake as long as the Deacs are scoring points the way they typically do.
Cal at USC (-21), 10:30 p.m.
How about some Pac-12 after dark? To end the night, wind down with some West Coast action. This isn’t a full-on trap game, but USC did have a bit tougher of a time beating Arizona than you would have expected, so keep an eye on this before bed.
Matchup to watch: Both teams vs. the turnover margin. These two teams subsist on turnovers at a level that frankly is quite astounding, so the ball could bounce Cal’s way theoretically and make this an interesting game. If it doesn’t, watch out for the Trojans to buzzsaw them as expected.