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College Football Picks 2017: Week Ten

Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma
College Football Picks 2017: Week Ten
Current Record: 53-19

(8-0) 2 Alabama Crimson Tide vs. (6-2) 19 LSU Tigers
@Bryant-Denny Stadium (Tuscaloosca), 7 PM Saturday on CBS

Over the years, Alabama-LSU has emerged as one of the best games on the college football schedule, as the two square off annually in a game that usually decides the SEC West and features some astounding future NFL talent. However, the rivalry has become very one-sided, with Alabama winning the last six games. Now, the Tide enter this game at home with a chip on their shoulder, after the Playoff Selection Committee decided to rank them No. 2 in the country, pushing Georgia ahead of them. Alabama is winning games in their usual manner; using a dominant rushing attack and physical, smash-mouth defense, a formula that has proven to be obviously quite effective. Jalen Hurts is still growing as a passer, but his running ability and incredible poise should give LSU plenty of issues defensively. What will give the Tigers even more problems will be a backfield that includes Damien Harris, Najee Harris and Bo Scarbrough, as well as potent receiver Calvin Ridley on the outside. LSU defensive coordinator Dave Arranda has done a fine job this season and has plenty of talent at his disposal but facing 'Bama is quite the unique challenge. The Tide are so talented and well-rounded they can find so many ways to beat you, and they will be creative in how they choose to attack the Bayou Bengals. Any hope for an upset for LSU hinges on the passing game making a massive improvement in roughly a week. Veteran quarterback Danny Etling has had moments where he has looked pretty good, but overall, the aerial attack is still a major work in progress in Baton Rouge. There is a chance we see true freshman Myles Brennan or sophomore Justin McMillan, depending on what happens. Brennan has come in for relief for Etling, while McMillan is dangerous as a rusher. At running back, LSU has quite the stable of studs on their own end, namely powerful rusher Derris Guice. Guice hasn't been 100 percent for a big chunk of the season, but there is no denying how scary he can be when he is playing well. Unfortunately for LSU, this Tide team is proven at stopping the run. They have so much depth and playmakers up and down the defense moving the ball against them is a real chore. They will really need Etling to make some big throws to open up this ground game, which is a concern, considering he will have to throw against a Tide secondary that includes stars Minkah Fitzpatrick and Levi Wallace. This game has all the looks of a low-scoring, physical SEC duel. LSU has played a lot better since a concerning homecoming loss to Troy, but it doesn't look like this is going to be the team that ends the growing Alabama streak. I don't expect a blowout, but a comfortable win for the Tide here.

The Pick: Alabama, 20 LSU, 10

(7-1) 5 Oklahoma Sooners vs. (7-1) 11 Oklahoma State Cowboys
@Boone-Pickens Stadium (Stillwater), 3 PM Saturday on FS1

Few rivalries in college football are as intense as Bedlam, which seems to always include some plenty of craziness and excitement. Things could be even more intense this year, with so much on the line. Oklahoma has recovered from a loss to Iowa State to retake the crown as favorite in the conference and if they win out, they should be able to lock down a Playoff berth. On the other side, Oklahoma State lost to TCU but if they are able to win here, they will be able to get right back into serious Playoff contention and in turn, become the conference favorite. Both offenses know how to keep the scoreboard operators very busy, and a shootout is likely. For the Sooners, Baker Mayfield remains very much in the Heisman mix, and continues to play with a ton of swagger and confidence. Mayfield seems to play even better in the bigger games, and there is plenty of motivation, as he looks to beat the Cowboys for the third time since his arrival in Norman. Mayfield is aided by a trio of star running backs that includes Trey Sermon, Abdul Adams and Rodney Anderson, along with a terrific offensive line. It isn't unreasonable to think that Oklahoma will have a field day going up against State's defense, particularly with Ok. State struggling to defend the big play. On the other side, Oklahoma State has a star quarterback of their own in senior Mason Rudolph. Rudolph isn't quite the runner that Mayfield is, but his huge arm still gives defenses huge problems. Rudolph does a fantastic job spreading the ball to the Cowboys' playmakers on the outside, which includes Biletnikoff Award favorite James Washington Jr., Jalen McCleskey and Marcell Ateman. That, plus the dangerous running of back Justice Hill, gives Oklahoma State an offense that can score on nearly anybody. They will go up against an Oklahoma defense that is still struggling. They don't have a dearth of stars, as pass rusher Ogbonnia Okoronkwo and cornerback Jordan Thomas are two of the best defenders in the conference, but they have still struggled mightily at times. If they can force Rudolph to turn the ball over and not make mistakes on the other end, they'll be in a good spot. There is going to be plenty of points in this one, and the fact it is a rivalry game should only make things more competitive. The game may be in Stillwater, but the Sooners seem to be entering this one with slightly more momentum and Mayfield is a difference-maker. It will be a close one, but Oklahoma should be able to come away with the victory.

The Pick: Oklahoma, 45 Oklahoma State, 42

(7-0) 10 Miami Hurricanes vs. (7-1) 13 Virginia Tech Hokies
@Hard Rock Stadium (Miami), 7 PM Saturday on ABC

Despite the fact they have yet to beat an elite-level team, there is no denying how impressive of a year it has been for the Miami Hurricanes. A historically dominant program that has slowed since their arrival in the ACC, it has been a long return to relevance for the Hurricanes. Now, this team sits undefeated, and has a decent chance at a ACC Coastal crown if they can come out and overtake Virginia Tech. Miami has been predicated on a methodical and smart offense, with QB Malik Rosier leading the charge. Rosier doesn't wow you with his arm strength but he is a cerebral, effective signal-caller. He has had to step up even more with star running back Mark Walton banged up. Rosier has been helped by the impressive play of senior wide out Braxton Berrios, who is a threat to go deep every time he touches the ball. That offense will be in for a tough task against Bud Foster's Virginia Tech D, which always plays well, but Miami should still be able to put up points. The Hokies' offense has been a significant surprise. They've had to overcome the loss of star QB Jerod Evans, along with star wide outs Isaiah Ford and Bucky Hodges, but haven't missed a beat. Redshirt frosh Josh Jackson has been a breakout star at quarterback, and has been a major reason why Virginia Tech is 7-1. Cam Phillips is a major weapon on the outside, and the Hokies have proven they can run the ball. That should present an interesting challenge against a good, not great, Hurricanes' D. Miami has a ton of talent in the front seven, namely Michael Pinckney and Shaq Quartermann at linebacker, but their secondary still has some question marks. Dee Delaney, a grad transfer from The Citadel, will likely be tasked with shutting down Phillips, but beyond that, this Miami secondary could be in store for a tough time. Virginia Tech was never known as a dangerous passing team under Frank Beamer, but Justin Fuente has shown that he wants to get the ball down-field. Expect him to be very aggressive against this 'Canes team, especially with Jackson's huge arm. This is a huge ACC Coastal battle, and the winner not only could take hold of the division, but assert themselves as serious Playoff contenders. Miami may be undefeated, but they haven't looked the part for a big chunk of the year. Berrios and company give this offense some bite, but I have significantly more confidence in VT's defense than the Hurricanes. It should be quite a battle, but I like the Hokies to go on the road and come out with a big win.

The Pick: Virginia Tech, 31 Miami, 23

Other Picks
(#4) Clemson, 30 (#20) NC State, 20
(#21) Stanford, 28 (#25) Washington State, 24
(#1) Georgia, 38 South Carolina, 21
(#22) Arizona, 41 (#17) USC, 33
(#6) Ohio State, 27 Iowa, 23

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