The Week 10 college football schedule highlights a battle of young quarterbacks in Los Angeles that could provide a glimpse of the future in the Pac-12.
The collective college football world won’t turn its head like it will for the Alabama-LSU tilt. And divisional leads won’t hang on the outcome, such as they will when Colorado hosts UCLA or Nebraska treks to Ohio State. However, the following under-the-radar gems are still flush with juicy storylines and compelling subplots, and they warrant your patronage in Week 10.
6. UTSA (4-4) at Middle Tennessee (6-2)
It’s only Year 1, but UTSA appears to have made a good hire in Frank Wilson.
The Roadrunners have already surpassed last year’s win total, knocking off a North Texas team last week that was heating up before getting to San Antonio. The offense is clicking around quarterback Dalton Sturm, and Wilson hasn’t even had a chance yet to fully flex his recruiting muscles with the program. UTSA now gets a shot to really make a pronouncement in Conference USA this week in Murfreesboro. Middle Tennessee is even hotter with the ball, scoring 51 in an upset of Mizzou two weeks ago, behind the dynamic triplets of quarterback Brent Stockstill, running back I’Tavius Mathers and wideout Richie James.
5. Memphis (5-3) at SMU (4-4)
It’s going to be a fun month in Dallas.
Chad Morris has something interesting brewing in his second season at SMU. A year removed from going 2-10, his Mustangs are two wins shy of bowl-eligibility after stunning Houston and defeating Tulane in New Orleans. A December bonus game would be enormous for Morris, as he methodically changes the culture on the Hilltop. SMU will be tested by Memphis, which can win shootouts, but wasn’t able to make stops in recent back-to-back losses to Navy and Tulsa. Bank on a high-scoring game that provides a stage for the receivers, Tiger Anthony Miller and Mustangs Courtland Sutton and James Proche.
4. Navy (5-2) vs. Notre Dame (3-5)
The Irish and the Midshipmen meet for the 90th consecutive year, this time in Jacksonville, Florida.
Regardless of the records, it’s always compelling from a historical standpoint when Notre Dame and Navy meet. The Irish want to build on last week’s win over Miami and dial down the pressure on Brian Kelly. A win would also increase the chances of extending the campaign into December, though many around South Bend might prefer to see this season put to sleep sooner than later.
For the Midshipmen, who are coming off a tough loss to South Florida, facing ND is the next biggest thing to playing another service academy. Navy has won this game three times in the past decade, but has lost the last five in the series.
3. Air Force (5-3) at Army (5-3)
There’s always extra juice in the stadium when a pair of service academies square off, but even more so this fall.
The Falcons and the Black Knights are both 5-3, so the winner automatically advances to a bowl game. Old news for Air Force, but a really big deal for Army, which has appeared in one postseason game over the last couple of decades. If third-year coach Jeff Monken can engineer just the third win in the last 20 meetings with Air Force, while also locking down a bowl berth, it’ll go down as a seminal moment for the Black Knights. For the Falcons, a win on the Hudson means a 20th Commander-in-Chief’s trophy, the coveted honor for defeating the other two rivals in the same season.
2. Georgia (4-4) at Kentucky (5-3)
The Wildcats haven’t played a game in Lexington this important in a very long time. And meaningful football in November should be reflected in the energy at Commonwealth Stadium.
There’s an uncommon buzz around Kentucky, and, for a change, it’s not because hoops season is starting. The Cats are behind only Florida in the SEC East, with a chance to win a fifth league game Saturday night for the first time since 1977. The ground game is rolling downhill, the team is confident and Mark Stoops is one more win from fleeing the coaching hot seat for the foreseeable future. Georgia, on the other hand, has lost 4-of-5, and is danger of missing the postseason for the first time in 20 years. Kirby Smart needs more time with his kids, so a bowl game, any bowl game, is necessary to get a jump on 2017.
1. Oregon (3-5) at USC (5-3)
It has not been a vintage year for the Ducks or the Trojans, who are .500 combined. But Troy is one of the hottest programs in the Pac-12, and the duel of the rookie quarterbacks is guaranteed to be riveting.
The Trojans have gotten off the mat to win four straight and remain in the thick of the Pac-12 South race. Colorado leads the division, but the Trojans beat the Buffs at the Coliseum on Oct. 8. The most compelling storyline revolves around the young hurlers, redshirt freshman Sam Darnold and true freshman Justin Herbert. Both began the season as backups, but have quickly ascended into budding stars and future faces of their programs. Darnold vs. Herbert alone makes this a sneaky-good must-see matchup for Week 10.