Last week the marquee games turned out not to be worth the bright lights they were put in, (partisan rooting interests aside). Big games were big blowouts. The theme of the week could have been Big Yawn. The SEC division races are decided. The ACC is being dominated by one team. The Pac 12 is a hodge podge from one week to the next. But there are still some critical match-ups with conference races and College Football Playoff spots in mind; if teams will hold it together. Here is the College Football Preview-Week 10.
College Football Preview-Week 10; Hold It Together
Ohio State (8-1) @ Michigan State (6-3); Saturday 12Noon Est Fox
The Buckeyes have not given up on a playoff spot if they can hold it together and run the table through the conference championship game. They have won three of the last four match-ups between the two, including last year’s 48-3 blowout in Columbus.
Quarterback Dwayne Haskins continues to carry Ohio State on his shoulders and he will need to this week. He has more than 3,000 yards passing, 35 touchdowns and only six interceptions. The game is on him. The Buckeyes have the fourth best passing offense in the country. It is a singular success right now. The defense is struggling, having given up 80 points combined to Purdue and Nebraska the last two weeks. And the running game is no better than 60th in the country.
That lack of a rushing game now faces Michigan State which has given up more than 70 yards on the ground only twice this season. The challenge for the Spartans will to be find its own offense. Michigan State didn’t score 30 points in a game in all of October. Quarterback Brian Lewerke has got to step up. He has had two games of under 100 yards passing.
Oklahoma State (5-4) @ Oklahoma (8-1); Saturday 3:30pm Est ABC
Bedlam is always a fun rivalry game even if the record is lopsided. Oklahoma has won 13 of the last 15. The Sooners are still holding it together for their playoffs hopes.
The Sooners have won three in a row by putting up at least 50 points per game in that stretch. They did have to come from behind in last week’s win over Texas Tech. It helps when you put up 683 yards of offense. Talk about an offense that is holding it together. They have out gained and out rushed every opponent this season, except one, (Army, which was their lowest scoring effort of the year). Even though the Heisman race is likely a one man show right now, Oklahoma’s Kyler Murray deserves an invitation to New York. His 70% completion rate with 31 touchdowns and only five interceptions would make him the frontrunner in most other years.
Murray will not have it as easy as you might think this week. Oklahoma State’s defense has the most sacks in the nation with 33. Offensively, the Cowboys can hang. They had 523 yards of offense last week in a tough loss to Baylor. It was their special team mistakes that cost them two touchdowns in the last few minutes. Can quarterback Taylor Cornelius muster enough offense for the Cowboys to hold it together and keep up with Oklahoma land rush? He is averaging just under 300 yards per game to go with his 20 touchdown passes.
Clemson (9-0) @ Boston College (7-2); Saturday 8pm Est ABC
Everyone keeps waiting for someone in the ACC to give Clemson a fight. But Clemson is not only holding it together, they are owning it. Are the Tigers that good? Is the ACC that mediocre this year? The teams that were counted on to give Clemson a fight in the past are nowhere to be found this year. Next up, Boston College.
The Eagles are the best conference team Clemson will have faced thus far. They are averaging 225 yards rushing per game. They are 24th in the country at 4.83 yards per play. Running back AJ Dillon is putting up 129 per game. He can get to the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season in this game. The offense is scoring 37 points a game. It is all there for the Eagles to take down Clemson, right?
You know what’s coming next though, right? Clemson’s defense. They have given up 36 points total in their last four games, (while running up 240 points on their own). Of course, that was against Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Florida State, and Louisville, all on a serious downward slide. Still, the numbers are what they are. While the defensive secondary is prone to giving up the occasional big play, the Tigers are yielding only 90 yards per game on the ground and 13 points per game. In other words, everything that BC does well, plays right into Clemson’s defensive strengths.
Add in Travis Etienne being the 10th leading rusher in the country, and it could be another in a string of games with Clemson holding it together against a team that is just not up to it this year.
This is the fourth time in 70 years that Clemson has started 9-0. The other three times they have been in national championship contention at the end of the season.