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College Football Picks 2019: Week Ten

Kyle Trask, Florida
Current Picks Record: 50-22 (5-5 Upset)
(#8) Georgia Bulldogs vs. (#6) Florida Gators
Already one of the better rivalries in college football, Georgia-Florida takes special importance this season as a de-facto SEC East Championship Game. Both teams have just one loss in the conference, but Florida is in a slightly better spot at 4-1 inside the SEC, and with a very favorable schedule down the stretch. You have to be impressed with the Gators this season, as they've recovered from the loss of starting QB Feleipe Franks to really put together a tremendous year. Backup Kyle Trask has performed admirably, and the defense remains among the nation's elite. Granted, going up against this UGA defense is going to be a stiff challenge for Trask. He played well against Auburn and LSU earlier on in the campaign, but the Bulldogs have a ton of speed and are going to find ways to create chaos in the backfield. Trask is going to need support from the Florida rushing attack, which has lacked consistency. Lamical Perine has followed up a breakthrough showing against Auburn with two quiet games. He has all the tools to be a real factor in this game, but the Gator O-Line must also help him out. On the outside, Freddie Swain and tight end Kyle Pitts are going to help Trask as much as possible, but this Georgia secondary is no joke. They're a real ball-hawking group that knows how to create turnovers. However, as good as the Bulldog defense has been for most of 2019, their offense has been nearly the complete opposite. Offensive coordinator James Coley has struggled to manufacture big plays, and the 'Dawgs have really struggled in their last two games, managing 38 points total against South Carolina and Kentucky. Both of those defenses are significantly worse than what Florida can trot out, a defense with stars at each level that loves to get after the quarterback. The Gator defense also appears to be getting healthy at the right time, as both Jabari Zuniga and Jonathan Greenard are probable after both missing their last game. Those two are crucial to the Gator pass rush, which will be firing for the entire sixty minutes. Georgia's Jake Fromm has had to deal with doubters all season long, which have become especially loud seeing Justin Fields' success at Ohio State. Can he come back and prove he is still an elite QB with a big-time performance? Trying to pass against Florida's C.J. Henderson and Marco Wilson is easier said than done. Georgia's ground game has also been similarly underwhelming, despite all the talent of D'Andre Swift, Brian Herrien and Zamir White. If UGA isn't able to use the play-action game to their advantage it's hard to see them really moving the ball effectively. Overall, this Georgia offense just has too many questions for me to feel confident about them at the moment. I think they should be able to get it going at some point, but I don't envision it happening against the country's 12th-ranked scoring defense. If Trask and UF can do just enough on offense, I like them to get the win, and take control of the SEC East.
The Pick: Florida, 24 Georgia, 20

(#15) SMU Mustangs @ (#24) Memphis Tigers
Sure, this is a down week in comparison in terms of big-time college football games, but it should still say something about the growth of the AAC that College GameDay decided to head to Memphis to take in this one between undefeated SMU and the Tigers. SMU in particular has been a great story, jumping to a 8-0 record behind the arm of Texas transfer Shane Buechele. Talent has never been a question for Buechele but Sonny Dykes has really been able to unleash him, to the tune of 2,325 yards and 20 touchdowns. He leads an offense that has an underrated collection of playmakers, including tailback Xavier Jones and receivers Reggie Roberson & James Proche. Roberson in particular should worry the Memphis secondary, as he is still fresh off a 250-yard, 3 touchdown showing against Temple two weeks ago. This is a solid Memphis defense, but stopping the Mustangs offensive momentum is going to be a real challenge, even in front of their home crowd. The good news is that the Tigers can counter with an explosive offense themselves, currently boasting a group averaging nearly 40 PPG (ninth nationally). Veteran QB Brady White has played in, and won, a lot of big AAC duels, and the SMU defense does have some notable question marks. Can they defend the long pass? Can they get enough pressure on White to force him into bad decisions? The Mustangs must also deal with freshman running back Kenneth Gainwell, who has come out of seemingly nowhere to rush for 979 yards and 11 scores. He ran for three touchdowns in a one-point thriller over Tulsa last Saturday, so containing him is of top priority. Even though this may not be a matchup of traditional powers by any stretch of the imagination, I think it will be a really entertaining primetime game. Both of these offenses can hurt you in so many ways, I'd be shocked if this wasn't some type of shootout. I lean Memphis only because of White's experience and because playing in the Liberty Bowl is harder than most realize. With a victory and Appalachian State's loss to Georgia Southern last night, a win could put Memphis in the driver's seat to become the Group of Five representative in the New Year's Six this year.
The Pick: Memphis, 45 SMU, 38

(#7) Oregon Ducks @ USC Trojans
A possible preview of the Pac-12 Championship Game? For all the talk of Clay Helton getting fired at USC, the Trojans still hold a lead in the Pac-12 South and have a chance this Saturday to completely ruin Oregon's Playoff hopes. However, they'll have to find a way to slow down an Oregon team that is playing terrific football on both sides of the ball. On offense, quarterback Justin Herbert continues to run the Duck offense to near perfection, as he hasn't turned the ball over since early October. He will still miss tight end Jacob Breeland, who was the favorite to win the John Mackey Award prior to a season-ending injury, but others have proven they can step up in the passing attack, namely Penn State transfer Juwan Johnson. With that being said, the USC secondary continues to improve and play more confident each game, so Herbert will have to be on the top of his game. The good news for the Ducks is they still feature perhaps the country's best offensive line, which could be able to slow down a fierce 'SC pass rush. The biggest question for Oregon is what is happening to their defense. In a five-game stretch following the Auburn opener, the Ducks had allowed a total of 25 points. In their next two, they've allowed 66, and have had a number of defensive breakdowns we simply aren't used to seeing. The secondary in particular has struggled, which has to be a real concern going up against the Trojans, who feature a vertical passing attack that wants to throw as much as possible. Coordinator Andy Avalos was once the favorite for the Broyles Award (nation's best coordinator), but entering this one, he is just trying to stop the bleeding. One would think Oregon would feel good about facing a backup quarterback, but USC's Kedon Slovis hasn't played like one. He torched Colorado last weekend to the tune of 406 yards and four touchdowns, and while the Ducks are better than Colorado, they still are in store for a challenge. Slovis' favorite target has been veteran Michael Pittman, who is coming off a huge showing and was instrumental in the Trojans earlier upset over Utah. It will be fascinating to see what type of game-plan Avalos tries to draw up to limit this passing attack. The Ducks are also hopeful Troy Dye can really be closer to 100 percent. Dye broke his thumb in the Washington game and showed amazing toughness to play through the injury. As the unquestioned leader of this defense, he has to be on his game for the whole unit to be chugging along. The recent struggles of Oregon and the upset-minded Trojans make this one interesting, but I am still choosing to stick with the Ducks. Herbert and the offense should do just enough, and I think the defense is too good to be playing the way they have lately. It will be a great opportunity for some type of redemption.
The Pick: Oregon, 35 USC, 28

Other Picks
(#14) Michigan @ Maryland: Michigan, 34 Maryland, 21
Virginia Tech @ (#16) Notre Dame: Notre Dame, 23 Virginia Tech, 20
NC State @ (#23) Wake Forest: Wake Forest, 30 NC State, 28
Ole Miss @ (#11) Auburn: Auburn, 38 Ole Miss, 24
Upset: Washington, 35 Utah, 31

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