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2016 College Football Picks: Week Ten

Leonard Fournette, LSU
2016 College Football Picks: Week Ten
Current Record: 55-17

1 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. 13 LSU Tigers
Since Nick Saban returned to the SEC with Alabama, the 'Bama-LSU game has always played a pivotal role on the National Championship picture. Both programs are among the best in the land, and the future NFL talent that takes the field every single year in this matchup is staggering. This season, the rivalry should once again be critical. The Tide are well on their way to a National Title repeat, sitting at 8-0 and 5-0 in the conference, while LSU has recovered from a 2-2 start behind the leadership of interim head coach Ed Orgeron. Throughout the years, offense has not been a premium in this game, but that could change this season. Alabama has proven they can score points in bunches this season, thanks to the emergence of rising superstar QB Jalen Hurts, RB Damien Harris and receiver Calvin Ridley. Offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin has made this offense more up-tempo and aggressive, so don't expect this to just be the typical SEC slugfest it has been over the years. On the other side, LSU will have to prove their offense can counter the explosiveness Alabama has on display. Purdue transfer Danny Etling has been okay since taking over for Brandon Harris early on, but the passing game is still a problem and it won't help that Etling will face perhaps the nation's best secondary, even without defensive back Eddie Jackson. Leonard Fournette's 2015 Heisman campaign was derailed last season in a loss to the Tide, so he will be out for blood. Fournette has had injury issues much of the season, but has been dominant (284 yards on just 16 carries last week versus Ole Miss). Add in Derrius Guice, who ran all over times in Fournette's absence, and the Tigers may have the edge in the ground game in this one, even with the talent Alabama also has at that position. The key will be finding ways to get that ground attack going when 'Bama knows how one-dimensional you are. Etling will absolutely need to open things up a little bit, or else Tim Williams, Jonathan Allen and Rueben Foster will once more feast. On defense for LSU, linebacker Kendall Beckwith and Jamal Adams will play a huge role. Beckwith is the leading tackler for the Tigers who will be tasked with containing the Tide on the ground, while the ball-hawking Adams will try to give Hurts a tough time. Another element to watch in this one will be special teams. A botched kickoff two years ago led Alabama to a victory late in a thriller, and with how good both defenses are, field goals will likely be a common occurrence. Out of all the remaining roadblocks Alabama has in their quest to repeat (Auburn in Iron Bowl, SEC Championship) I think none is more daunting than LSU. Rivalry games always get interesting, and the Tigers have the talent to match up extremely favorable. I think this game will be an instant classic, down-to-the-wire ball game. However, with my confidence still not high on LSU's passing game, picking 'Bama, even though it is in Death Valley, is the right move.
Alabama, 21 LSU, 16

6 Ohio State Buckeyes vs. 10 Nebraska Cornhuskers
Despite the fact they lost, Nebraska impressed last weekend against Wisconsin. The previously undefeated 'Huskers showed toughness and fight against the gritty Badgers but ultimately came up short. Now, Nebraska's tough stretch of games continue against sixth-ranked Ohio State. The Buckeyes have looked average over the past two weeks, first losing to Penn State then surviving against .500 Northwestern (although the Wildcats look better than their record may indicate). For OSU, a big issue has been the passing game, which has disappeared. Junior J.T. Barrett hasn't been terrible, but the aerial attack has not had the same precision or explosiveness it had over the first couple weeks of the year. It could be in store for a tough showing against a Nebraska pass defense that is very strong, headed by safety Nate Gerry. The ground game is still versatile and dynamic, but it has also been a little off lately. Curtis Samuel and Mike Weber are great complements of each other, and the Buckeyes should be able to find some offensive rhythm. However, the big issue for OSU has been a porous offensive line. The group lost plenty this off-season and it has showed. Nebraska's pass rush is not wonderful, but it could be just enough to get Barrett unbalanced. Meanwhile, Nebraska's offense has been solid for much of the season, but they have really only faced one defense with the skill and athleticism of Ohio State's D (Wisconsin's) so a tough transition could be in store. Senior Tommy Armstrong Jr. has been criticized so much throughout his career, but he is having one of his better seasons. Armstrong is still prone to mistakes and the ball-hawking secondary of OSU will be eager, but his dual threat ability could also give the Buckeyes some problems. Other offensive weapons like receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. and back Terrell Newby will have to step up. Newby will have his work cut out for him especially, as the Buckeyes bring perhaps the best front seven in the Big Ten. That front seven is not only great against the run but should also make Armstrong's like difficult, thanks in large part to due true freshman Nick Bosa and end Sam Hubbard. While they still haven't beaten anyone overly impressive, I think Nebraska is a strong football team that should be able to hang with Ohio State. However, unless Armstrong has a career day or the defense is absolutely dominant, I don't see them winning on the road.
Ohio State, 34 Nebraska, 24

11 Florida Gators vs. Arkansas Razorbacks
Now ten weeks into the 2016 season, we have gotten a pretty good handle on most of the teams in the nation. However, one team that remains extremely tough to read is Florida, who sits at 6-1 and atop the SEC East. The Gators have beaten everybody they should, including a 45-7 beatdown of Kentucky earlier in the year that keeps looking better, and they are still very much in the Playoff hunt. But, the offense is still the same stagnant group it has been for years now, and while the defense is elite, it is hard to overcome an offensive attack that can't stay on the field. Former Oregon State and Alabama transfer Luke Del Rio has been okay since taking over the reigns of the Florida offense but he isn't going to strike fear into anyone, especially an Arkansas defense that has already faced Chad Kelly and Jalen Hurts. The ground attack features solid Jordan Scarlett and the Gators do have one of the nation's most versatile playmakers in Antonio Callaway, but the gritty and disciplined Razorbacks should be able to contain them. Arkansas may sit unranked, but this is no pushover. The 5-3 Razorbacks are going to be eager to show they are still a factor in the SEC after getting pounded by Auburn two weeks ago 56-3. Quarterback Austin Allen has been great all season long, perhaps even better than his now graduated brother Brandon, who was a two-year starter before him. Unfortunately though, turnovers have been an issue and Florida has a ton of talent in the defensive backfield, headlined by future NFL cornerback Jalen "Teez" Tabor. That could force Arkansas to lean on their deep stable of running backs, but that group could also have some issues moving the ball against a Florida defense that also has a strong front seven. Neither team should be dropping anything north of 30 in this one, because of how great each defense is. However, Arkansas has shown more balance and explosiveness offensively, and I think they should be prepared after a bye week. Florida may be a relative mystery right now, but I'm still not certain they have enough to take down the Razorbacks.
Arkansas, 23 Florida, 17

Other Picks
4 Texas A&M, 42 Mississippi State, 21
3 Michigan, 35 Maryland, 17
21 UNC, 30 Georgia Tech, 21
2 Clemson, 38 Syracuse, 30
8 Wisconsin, 24 Northwestern, 21

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