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College Football Picks 2018: Week Ten

Nick Brossette, LSU
(#1) Alabama Crimson Tide @ (#3) LSU Tigers
Despite the fact Alabama has dominated the rivalry as of late, the Alabama-LSU battle is always important, and consistently pits top-tier talent against each other in typical brutish SEC fashion. Alabama has looked unstoppable over the first nine weeks of the season, but they have not faced a challenge quite like the Tigers, whose defense is top-notch and has a much improved offense. The unquestioned face of Alabama football right now is QB Tua Tagovailoa, who looks ready to coast to a Heisman unless somebody stops him. Tua's stats are downright mind-boggling: 2,066 yards, 27 total touchdowns, 70% completion percentage and zero interceptions. His huge arm has added a different element to this Tide offense and the results speak for themselves, as 'Bama has the best offense in school history, notching 54.1 PPG. Tua will be tossing the ball around to a dynamic receivers corps spearheaded by Jerry Jeudy and Jaylen Waddle, but its important to note what defense he is facing. LSU is stocked on the back-end, with stud defenders Greedy Williams and Grant Delpit guarding their territory. You can bet the Tigers are tired of hearing about Tagovailoa, and are going to be aggressive in stopping him. They'll have to do so without star linebacker Devin White, as a target penalty from last week ensures he'll miss the first half of this one. That could be crucial, as the Tigers lean heavily on White's services in stopping the run, something they'll also have to do here. The key for LSU won't be the defense, however. It will be finding a way to keep pace on their own offensive end. Quarterback Joe Burrow has been a huge addition to this offense, playing smart and under control all year long. Burrow also adds an interesting element as a runner, which he used to overcome a superb Georgia defense a couple weeks ago. Can he do that against an Alabama defensive front stocked with future NFL Draft selections? He'll be aided by running backs Nick Brossette and Clyde Edwards-Helaire, as well as a solid crop of receivers. Burrow is going to need to do something LSU quarterbacks just haven't done in this matchup the last few seasons: make the big throw. I think he can do it, but this is Alabama, and nothing will come easy. I don't expect this game to be as low-scoring as years past (ahem, the 9-6 2011 regular season game), with both offenses entering this game with significant momentum. It should be pretty entertaining, and I think LSU has all the tools to give 'Bama a really tough game. Yet, I still am picking Alabama here, simply because nobody has proven they can consistently stop them at this juncture. LSU might just be able to, but my money remains on Tua and Saban.
The Pick: Alabama, 34 LSU, 26

(#6) Georgia Bulldogs @ (#9) Kentucky Wildcats
Alabama-LSU is going to be the most-watched SEC game of the weekend, but Georgia-Kentucky may have just as much importance. Both teams still remain in the Playoff hunt, and this game will effectively decide the representative from the East Division in the Championship Game. Kentucky has been one of the biggest stories of the season, jumping to a 7-1 record behind a stingy defense and Heisman candidate Benny Snell Jr. at running back. Snell (935 yards on the year) and quarterback Terry Wilson form a dangerous 1-2 punch running the ball. Wilson still hasn't proven he is an elite passer, but his speed really opens up this offense. A lot of credit should also be reserved for an offensive line that has played well much of the year and opened up some huge lanes for Wilson & Snell. They'll need to do that early and often against Georgia, who has their own stifling front seven. The most important thing for this Wildcats offense is not turning the ball over. UGA has a hungry defense that is great at forcing turnovers, and they capitalize on them as well as anybody in the country. The defense will be up to the task as well, with safety Darius West and linebackers Kash Daniel and Josh Allen making key plays. Those linebackers are going to have to be up to the challenge, because the Bulldogs are going to run the ball. The last few weeks, Kirby Smart has leaned on the run game early on nearly exclusively, and I imagine he'll start this game much the same. For Georgia, it would be great if Jake Fromm could figure out how to perform consistently. He played pretty well against Florida, but some fans still feel true freshman Justin Fields could make the offens run better. Fromm has loads of weapons, including Mecole Hardman, Jeremiah Holloman and tight end Isaac Nauta. If he can regain his late 2017 form, when he played absolutely terrific football, this Bulldogs team is so difficult to overcome. Going into Lexington is certainly not easy, but Smart and UGA have ample experience in big games and they won't be intimidated. I like Kentucky to keep things close, but I think the offense might be too one-dimensional to really bury UGA. I like the 'Dawgs in another close one.
The Pick: Georgia, 28 Kentucky, 24

(#14) Penn State Nittany Lions @ (#5) Michigan Wolverines
With Ohio State's recent upset loss, the Big Ten East is now Michigan's to win, as they've won seven straight since their season-opening loss to Notre Dame. The big reason for the Wolverines' recent success has been an offense playing with a lot more confidence and one of the most aggressive and sound defenses in the entire land. Quarterback Shea Patterson has played terrific, making plays with his arms and legs and not turning the ball over. He has been helped by a strong stable of running backs, led by Karan Higdon and Tru Wilson, along with a number of explosive options on the perimeter, namely Donovan Peoples-Jones. Peoples-Jones is one of the best deep threats in the nation, and is just as potent on special teams. Penn State will counter with a defense that loves to blitz, but the Nittany Lions have still struggled to defend the long pass. They'll still try and attack the UM offensive line, but Patterson has looked comfortable getting out of the pocket and making plays. On the other side of the ball, PSU really needs someone to step up beyond veteran signal-caller Trace McSorley. Running back Miles Sanders has done an admirable job replacing Saquon Barkley, but he will go up against a superb Michigan rush defense, which is led by linebacker Devin Bush. McSorley does have a huge arm, and the Nittany Lions are going to want to attack over the top. Can K.J. Hamler and Juwan Johnson make the plays necessary for this offense to put up enough points? PSU's offensive front is also going to be up for a challenge, dealing with a Wolverines pass rush that includes Chase Winovich and possibly Rashan Gary, who has been out for a number of weeks (listed as questionable for this game). McSorley has gone into tough environments before, but going into the Big House is certainly a different story. I like the Nittany Lions to make this a game, but I'll stick with the Wolverines at home. The way they're playing, they look ready to roll to a Big Ten East Title.
The Pick: Michigan, 33 Penn State, 27

Other Picks
(#13) West Virginia @ (#17) Texas: Texas, 30 West Virginia, 24
Missouri @ (#11) Florida: Florida, 35 Missouri, 23
(#4) Notre Dame @ Northwestern: Notre Dame, 26 Northwestern, 17
Louisville @ (#2) Clemson: Clemson, 48 Louisville, 20
(#19) Syracuse @ Wake Forest: Wake Forest, 27 Syracuse, 22

Current Picks Record: 56-16

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