College Football Week 10 Preview — Big Tests for Alabama, Ohio State on Deck
Can Ohio State rebound against a Top 10 opponent? Can Leonard Fournette and LSU shock No. 1 Alabama? Those are just some of the big questions this week in college football.
Can Ohio State Get Its Mojo Back?
The No. 6 Buckeyes have struggled in recent weeks, needing overtime to beat Wisconsin, losing at Penn State and then having to hold off a late rally for a 24-20 win over Northwestern. Surprisingly, it has been the Buckeye offense that has gone stagnant in this stretch. After averaging over 53 points per game in its first five, Ohio State is averaging just 25 per game since. After scoring 19 touchdowns during that five-game swing, J.T. Barrett has thrown just two touchdown passes in three contests.
The Buckeyes will be challenged by a solid Cornhusker defense that ranks 15th nationally in scoring and has held all but one opponent to 23 or fewer points. No. 10 Nebraska took Wisconsin to overtime and has an offense that can test a Buckeye unit that has given up 400-plus yards in two of the last three weeks.
Ohio State is certainly the more talented team and, playing at home, is understandably a heavy favorite. But if the Buckeye's offensive woes continue, Nebraska could make this really interesting.
Can Leonard Fournette Upset Alabama?
This didn't look to be a premier SEC West matchup earlier this year when LSU fired coach Les Miles after a 2–2 start. But since naming Ed Orgeron interim coach, the No. 13 Tigers offense has erupted, averaging nearly 42 points per game. And they have their best weapon back in the form of a healthy Leonard Fournette. After missing the two previous games with an injury, Fournette returned with a vengeance last week against Ole Miss, rushing for a school-record 284 yards and three touchdowns.
However, this week he'll face one of the toughest tests in football: an Alabama team that leads the nation in rushing defense, giving up just 70 yards per game. In last year's matchup, Fournette rushed for just 31 yards on 19 carries. He'll have to have a much bigger day than that for LSU to have any hope of pulling the upset.
Should Wisconsin Be on Upset Alert?
No. 8 Wisconsin is coming off of a big win over previously unbeaten Nebraska and could easily get caught looking past Northwestern. But the Wildcats could well prove dangerous, as they have rebounded from a 1–3 start to the season with strong performances over the last six weeks. In the last four games, Northwestern has averaged 35 points per game, won two road games and took Ohio State to the wire. Now they host the Badgers at Ryan Field, where Wisconsin has not won since 1999.
Wisconsin would move into the Big Ten West driver's seat if Ohio State beats Nebraska. But that won't matter if the Badgers can't pull off the road win here.
Will TCU/Baylor Give Us Another Exciting Finish?
Going back to their days in the Southwest Conference, the TCU/Baylor series has been one of the nation’s most even rivalries, with the two teams currently tied at 52–52–7 all-time. And in four of the last five years, the game was decided either by three or fewer points or in overtime.
The No. 17 Bears likely lost their shot at a playoff spot last week. However, they still have a Big 12 title in their sights. They'll play conference-leading Oklahoma next week, but must get past the Horned Frogs first. Fortunately for them, quarterback Seth Russell is expected to start after suffering concussion-like symptoms after last week's loss to Texas. TCU comes limping into this game after losing three of its last four and facing question marks at quarterback after starter Kenny Hill was pulled during last week's loss to Texas Tech.
This rivalry has given us some wild games in recent years, but this time TCU needs to keep up their end of the bargain.
Is Donnel Pumphrey a Heisman Candidate?
If you just answered “Who?” to that question, don’t worry — you’re not alone. Unless you’re a big San Diego State fan, there’s a good chance you haven’t heard of him. But you should. Pumphrey leads the nation in rushing by more than 350 yards over his closest competition and has already passed Marshall Faulk’s school rushing record. He already has four 200-yard games this season and his next two opponents (Hawaii and Nevada) rank 122nd and 124th, respectively, in rushing defense. Pumphrey currently ranks fifth in NCAA history in rushing (5,741 career yards) and is well within striking distance of Ron Dayne’s career record of 6,397 yards.
Would that record be enough to move past Lamar Jackson as the Heisman favorite? Probably not. But it should be enough to get the best player you haven’t heard of an invite to New York.