Three Games to Watch: Week 10


claire Barnett

The Commodores play Georgia on Saturday, October 7, 2017. Photo by Claire Barnett//The Vanderbilt Hustler.

Christia Victoriano

Vanderbilt’s game against Western Kentucky is an early one this week with an 11 AM CT kickoff time. So, what will you do with the rest of your CFB Saturday?

Here are three games to watch this week:

No. 8 Oklahoma at No. 11 Oklahoma State

The 122nd edition of the Bedlam Series is Week 10’s most hyped matchup. This rivalry has been one of the biggest in college football in recent years, with each of the past two seasons playing out as a winner-take-all battle for the Big 12 featuring two teams with top-10 national rankings. This season is no different, as both teams are 7-1 overall and 4-1 in conference play, tied for best in the conference with TCU and Iowa State. This matchup is likely a conference championship preview and will decide who sits alone at the top of the Big 12.

This matchup features two of the nation’s best offenses. Oklahoma is ranked first nationally in yards per game, with OSU ranked No. 3. Last week against Texas Tech, the Sooners produced 617 total yards of offense, with 336 coming on the ground.

Saturday’s game will also feature a showdown between two potential Heisman candidates, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and OSU’s Mason Rudolph. Rudolph, among the best in the nation in every important passing statistic, leads the nation in passing yards and passing yards per game and has thrown for over 300 yards in seven of his last nine games. Mayfield boasts an impressive 72.5% completion rate and has thrown only three interceptions going into the Bedlam series.

In terms of defense, both teams average over 20 points against per game, so expect this one to be a shootout, with two explosive offenses battling it out for a spot atop the Big 12.

No. 6 Clemson at No. 20 NC State

Saturday’s matchup between No. 6 Clemson and No. 20 NC State in Raleigh will almost certainly decide the winner of the ACC Atlantic.

After last week’s crushing loss to Notre Dame, NC State is out of playoff contention but still on the hunt for their first ACC Championship since 1979. Unbeaten in conference play, the Wolfpack controls its own destiny, currently sitting atop the Atlantic Division. With a win against the Tigers, NC State would need just one win against in its final three games against Boston College, Wake Forest, or North Carolina to capture the program’s first division title.

After being upset by Syracuse, Clemson bounced back last week in an dominant win against Georgia Tech that saw the healthy return of quarterback Kelly Bryant. The Tigers, who come into the game as 7.5-point favorites on the road, need a win this week in order to keep their hopes at defending the national championship alive.

The two teams were in a similar position last year, with NC State coming up just game-winning field goal shy of ending the Tigers’ national championship hopes. This year, the Wolfpack can get revenge by playing spoiler as well as take a big step toward winning the ACC.

In this game, look for the matchup between the Wolfpack front seven and Clemson’s offensive line. Against Georgia Tech, the Tigers rushed for more than 200 yards and did not allow a sack. The Wolfpack have the nation’s 19th-ranked run defense and average 2.5 sacks and 7 tackles for a loss per game. NC State’s front seven is led by defensive end Bradley Chubb, a likely first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft, is 7th in the FBS in solo sacks.

No. 9 Miami (FL) at No. 13 Virginia Tech

Saturday’s ACC Coastal Division matchup between No. 9 Miami and No. 13 Virginia Tech marks the first time in seven years that both teams enter the game ranked in the top 25. Miami currently sits just above Virginia Tech in the Coastal Division standings.

With a win against Virginia Tech on Saturday, Miami all but secures a spot in the ACC Championship barring a complete meltdown to close the season. This isn’t expected to be an easy feat, however. Miami, despite being ranked in the top ten and unbeaten, opened as a slight underdog against the Hokies.

The reason for this lies in the fact that although undefeated, the Hurricanes have had numerous close calls against mediocre teams. Their last four games were one-possession victories won by an average of 3.6 points, with only the win against Georgia Tech coming against a team with a winning record. Last week, Miami barely edged past a dreadful UNC team that was smattered by Virginia Tech 59-7 earlier in the season.

In contrast, the Hokies’ only loss came from defending national champion, No. 6 Clemson, who defeated Virginia Tech 31-17 in Blacksburg. Since falling to the Tigers, the Hokies have won three in a row, including a convincing 24-3 win over Duke last week.

The key to this matchup will be whether Virginia Tech will be able to take advantage of Miami’s struggling run defense. Over the past four games, the Hurricanes have surrendered a whopping average of 217.3 rushing yards per game, relinquishing 176 to a struggling Tar Heels team. The Hokies don’t have a particularly strong rushing attack—no Hokies running back has rushed for more than 100-yards in a game all season—but look for dual-threat quarterback Josh Jackson to take advantage of the holes in the Miami defense.