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2022 College Football Picks: Week Ten

Brock Bowers, Georgia
Current Picks Record: 50-31

Upset: 4-5

Superdog: 5-4

Lock: 3-6

(#1) Tennessee Volunteers @ (#3) Georgia Bulldogs

Line: Georgia -8

O/U: 66.5

There may not be a more important college football game this fall than the top-ranked Tennessee Volunteers squaring off against third-ranked Georgia. The Vols have been the story of the 2022 campaign, with five victories over ranked teams and their first No. 1 ranking since 1998. In order to continue their run to a National Title, they have to get by the reigning National Champion Georgia Bulldogs, who haven't been quite as dominant this year as the 2021 team, but remain one of the top teams in the nation.

Through the first nine weeks of the season, Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker looks like the Heisman favorite. He's put up eye-popping numbers all season long and seems to play his best in the biggest moments, evidenced by his five touchdown showing against Alabama. He leads college football's most dynamic offense, a group that uses the entire field and plays at a truly relentless pace. On the outside, Jalin Hyatt has emerged as the premier weapon, but Tennessee has plenty of others that can overwhelm opposing defenses. Cedric Tillman is finally healthy after missing most of the season, while Bru McCoy has finally shown the playmaking prowess that made him such a coveted recruit when he left high school. It's a fun group of receivers, a group that fits this offense perfectly with their ability to create after the catch. Add in the underrated running back duo of Jabari Small and Jaylen Wright, and it's no surprise Tennessee has overwhelmed every defense that has stood in their way so far this season. Will that remain the case against this Bulldog defense? There's never been a shortage of talent on this side of the ball, but UGA received tough news this week: star linebacker Nolan Smith will miss the rest of the year with a torn pectoral. The reality is that this defense isn't as talented top-to-bottom as last year's group, although you could argue the secondary is nearly at 2022 levels. It's still probably the best unit Tennessee has faced this season, but it still feels like the Vols are going to put up points, and it's on Georgia's offense to match.

It some time for Georgia to figure out their offense in the weeks following their domination of Oregon, but they appear to have found their rhythm. They went for 42 against Auburn, 55 against Vanderbilt, and then 42 against Florida over the past month and seem to be playing with more confidence. Sure, those three aren't exactly a murderer's row of elite defenses, but considering some of the issues UGA was struggling through in the first month of the season. Stetson Bennett remains the man at the controls and while turnovers have still been an occasional problem, there's no denying he's elevated his play from last season. It helps that his supporting cast has stayed healthier this year, and he has one of the sport's most dangerous weapons in tight end Brock Bowers. The sophomore is fresh off a five-catch, 154-yard performance against Florida and the Volunteers don't have a single player on their roster that can match up with him. Along with Bowers, the Bulldogs can also feature Ladd McConkey, Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint, and 6'7" behemoth Darnell Washington. It's a passing attack that is currently eighth in the country, but you better believe Kirby Smart and this coaching staff are hoping to find more balance. This has long been a program that has leaned on the ground game, but the trio of Daijun Edwards, Kenny McIntosh, and Kendall Milton haven't cut it. Fortunately, they should have opportunities against an inconsistent Tennessee defense. In fact, Georgia's offense as a whole matches up favorably against Tennessee's defense, which has made strides this fall, but can still be a weakness. To be fair, no defense in college football is on the field more, but they are still prone to the big play, and this is a tough matchup for the secondary.

Tennessee conquered some demons and proved themselves as a program by beating Alabama earlier in the season. But, what are the chances they're able to defeat both Alabama and Georgia in the same season, especially going to Athens? I have little doubt the Volunteers will put plenty of points, but the Bulldogs feel like the more balanced team overall and getting Tennessee, "Between the Hedges" makes them the safer selection.

The Pick: Georgia, 38 Tennessee, 34 (Tennessee cover)

(#6) Alabama Crimson Tide @ (#10) LSU Tigers

Line: Alabama -13.5

O/U: 56.5

Georgia-Tennessee is undoubtedly the game of the weekend in the SEC, but Alabama-LSU still has major implications in the SEC West. Alabama recovered from the Tennessee loss by manhandling Mississippi State and is coming off a bye, while LSU has been a pleasant surprise in Brian Kelly's first season, winning six of their last seven games to put themselves in division title contention.

The bye week was huge for the Crimson Tide, as it gives Bryce Young another week to recover the shoulder that he originally hurt in the win over Arkansas. Despite not operating at 100 percent, Young remains one of the sport's premier superstars, and he has once again carried the Tide offense in 2022. He's gone for over 700 yards and four touchdowns over his last two starts, but has been a bit more hesitant to make plays as a runner, stripping away an element of the Tide offense. Fortunately, they happen to have one of the nation's most exciting running backs next to him Jahmyr Gibbs, who can terrorize defenses as a runner and receiver. After a slow start to the season, Gibbs has arguably been the best back in the country the last several weeks and stopping him will be a primary focus of the LSU defense. Those two will carry the Alabama offense once again, but will somebody in the receiver corps finally step up? It's been an extremely disappointing year for a program that has produced Biletnikoff Award winner after Biletnikoff Award winner. Ja'Corey Brooks has been their top guy, but this offense would be significantly more intimidating if pieces like Jermaine Burton and Traeshon Holden showed up regularly. Alabama's offensive line has also been a bit of a conundrum; there's no denying the talent here, but consistency has also been a problem. How do they handle a powerful LSU pass rush, one that includes ferocious end/linebacker B.J. Ojulari?

After an underwhelming first start at LSU in the Florida State, quarterback Jayden Daniels has been one of the best in the SEC this fall. He's completing 70% of his passes, has thrown just one interception on 236 attempts, and also leads the team with 524 rushing yards. He won't take too many shots down the field, but he's demonstrated tremendous accuracy and his ability to create with his legs should be a real concern for the Tide. Nick Saban-coached teams have occasionally struggled to contain mobile quarterbacks, and Daniels can really bust open games; he has six rushing touchdowns in his last two games. Daniels will need help around him, which has been an occasional problem for the Tigers this year. Malik Nabers is another player who had a rough opener and has put together an impressive campaign as the team's top receiver, and Kayshon Boutte is one of the nation's best when he's playing focused. However, the lack of a rushing attack beyond Daniels has really limited what this offense can be. Junior Josh Williams has carried the load the last several weeks and is their top non-Daniels rusher, but the healthy return of Armoni Goodwin likely leaves him as the feature way. Either way, it's a fairly mediocre group of tailbacks going up against a strong Alabama defensive front; plenty is going to be on Daniels' shoulders in this one.

This is going to be quite a test for an Alabama team that has no margin for error if they want to return to the CFB Playoff. Not only has LSU been flaming hot, they happen to get the Crimson Tide in Baton Rouge. With that being said, Jayden Daniels is no Bryce Young, even if he's been terrific, and I trust Saban to have this team ready coming off a bye. 

The Pick: Alabama, 35 LSU, 21

(#4) Clemson Tigers @ Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Line: Clemson -3.5

O/U: 44

It hasn't always been pretty, but Clemson remains undefeated and on track to return to the College Football Playoff after a one-year hiatus. They have a favorable schedule the rest of the way, but a team that could stand in their way is Notre Dame, as they must travel to South Bend. It's been a rocky Year One for Marcus Freeman and the Irish, but they've been a tough out as of late and Notre Dame Stadium is always a raucous atmosphere.

Although Clemson benched quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei in favor of freshman Cade Klubnik in their win over Syracuse, the expectation is that "D.J. U" will continue as the starter. Uiagalelei can still be inconsistent, but he's shown real growth in 2022 and has one of the ACC's best. His arm strength has never been a question, but he seems to be playing with more confidence and his ability to create as a runner has helped open up this Tiger offense. He's formed quite the duo with tailback Will Shipley out of the Clemson backfield, and the O-Line has also looked revitalized after a down 2021 by typical Clemson standards. They should once again fuel the Tiger offense, although they do face a strong physical front in Notre Dame. The Irish produce front-seven talent at an impressive clip and the rush defense numbers have also been solid. Clemson will take their shots down-the-field against a good, but not great, Notre Dame secondary, but the aerial attack struggled against Syracuse. Antonio Williams and Joseph Ngata provide a formidable 1-2 punch at receiver, but the Tigers are even scarier when Beaux Collins and their tight ends are adding playmaking ability. Collins has been nonexistent in recent weeks and it's anybody's guess whether Jake Briningstool and Davis Allen will be factors week-to-week, despite their immense talent. At the end of the day, the offensive success does probably fall on Uiagalelei's shoulders, as simplistic as that may sound. Does last week's benching impact his confidence? Nobody has ever doubted his talent, but the mental game has seemed like a challenge for the signal-caller and games add an extra element.

Notre Dame's defense has carried them for most of the year, but the offense will need to have a fine performance for them to pull off an upset. It's been a very disappointing year on this side of the ball for play-caller Tommy Rees and the entire unit, which hasn't been helped by the fact starting QB Tyler Buchner is out for the year. Backup Drew Pyne is okay and can make things happen with his legs, but the passing game has really suffered and they've been rather one-dimensional. Tight end Michael Mayer provides plenty of playmaking as one of the nation's best, but he can only do so much. Others are going to have to show up, which has been a regular problem. The ground game has been decent, with Audric Estime being a pleasant surprise. He doesn't have the game-breaking ability of past Irish tailbacks, but Estime is their most productive offensive weapon not named Mayer. Unfortunately, he goes up against one of the nation's best defensive fronts, a deep, ferocious group stocked full of future NFL guys. Pyne is going to make things happen with his arm, but who else can open things up vertically beyond Mayer? Lorenzo Styles is their second leading receiver, but he's been held in check the last several weeks and Clemson can key in on him. Behind him, there's a whole lot of experience and this Tiger secondary is healthier than they were earlier in the season, when they were getting shredded by opposing offenses.

The over/under for this game in unsurprisingly set at a low 44, which indicates both team's strengths defensively and inconsistencies offensively. With that being said, I trust this Tiger offense significantly more, particularly if D.J. Uiagalelei is able to come back firing. There's simply more weapons on this side of the ball, and I don't think they'll be intimidated playing in South Bend. Plus, Clemson is fresher, taking last week off, while the Irish had a hard-fought win over 'Cuse.

The Pick: Clemson, 27 Notre Dame, 14

Other Picks

(#24) Texas @ (#13) Kansas State -- I completely misread my Kansas State pick last weekend, as they pounded Oklahoma State by 48. But, I still like Texas to go on the road and come away with a win; the offense matches up well and Adrian Martinez is still not 100 percent.

The Pick: Texas, 34 Kansas State, 31

(#21) Wake Forest @ (#22) NC State -- Neither of these teams are operating at their peak levels due to injury, and Wake is coming off a baffling loss to Louisville. Even so, I'm taking the Demon Deacons to go into Raleigh and win the game.

The Pick: Wake Forest, 30 NC State, 24

Texas Tech @ (#7) TCU -- This is one of the most underrated games of the weekend in my mind, and somebody is going to get TCU at some point. I don't think it will be Texas Tech in Fort Worth, but it should be a fun one.

The Pick: TCU, 37 Texas Tech, 33

Upset: Tulsa over (#19) Tulane -- Tulane has been an awesome story and are on track for a New Year's Six bowl, but Tulsa is always a tough out, particularly on the road. The Green Wave simply aren't going to finish the year with one loss, and Tulsa pulls off the upset.

The Pick: Tulsa, 24 Tulane, 17

Superdog (covers > 21 point spread): Rutgers (+26.5) vs. Michigan -- Possible upset alert in Piscataway? Unlikely, although an underrated Rutgers defense could make this more competitive than you would assume.

The Pick: Michigan, 29 Rutgers, 10

Lock of the Week (has to be a favorite): Duke (-9.5) @ Boston College -- Locks continue to be my kryptonite this year, but betting against Boston College feels like the right move. Duke QB Riley Leonard is a dual-threat weapon, and the Blue Devil defensive front should pound one of the worst offensive lines in Power Five football.

The Pick: Duke, 28 Boston College, 14

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