Week 10 of the college football season will focus in on two games above the rest: No. 1 Tennessee vs. No. 3 Georgia and No. 6 Alabama vs. No. 10 LSU.
While the other games on the docket may not pull the weight of these two SEC matchups, the slate is deep as a whole. It features a number of solid games, including TCU vs. Texas Tech, Clemson vs. Notre Dame, Texas vs. Kansas State and Air Force vs. Army.
I’m betting three of the top matchups on Saturday: Volunteers vs. Bulldogs, Crimson Tide vs. Tigers and Horned Frogs vs. Red Raiders.
All three high-profile showdowns will play a key role in the conference championship race for the SEC and the Big 12, as well as the College Football Playoff race at large.
So, read on to see how I’m betting these three showdowns below — and be sure to check out the rest of Action Network’s Week 10 college football betting coverage.
Collin Wilson’s Week 10 College Football Best Bets
The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that Collin Wilson is targeting from today’s slate of games. Click the team logos for one of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.
Texas Tech vs. TCU
As the first set of College Football Playoff rankings hits the news, college football consumers continue to check when the clock strikes midnight for Cinderella.
TCU finished the 2021 season without a bowl game on the schedule and on a mission for a new coach. Sonny Dykes made the trip from across the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and has the Horned Frogs as a national title contender.
The Big 12 is famous for knocking itself out of the playoff race, but TCU looks to buck that trend with a two-game lead over nearly every team in the conference.
Texas Tech also underwent a coaching search that was rumored to include Dykes, as his father, Spike, served as the long-term coach at the end of the Southwest Conference era.
The Red Raiders pulled Joey McGuire, Baylor’s associate head coach under Dave Aranda and a Texas high school coaching legend.
McGuire has allowed his coordinators to take control of play calling, an attractive aspect that drew Zach Kittley from a historic Western Kentucky offense.
Texas Tech has three losses in conference standings, but it needs two more wins to reach bowl season. A win in Week 10 would all but cement a postseason trip for the Red Raiders, who have Kansas, Iowa State and Oklahoma scheduled through November.
A quarterback bonanza has come about in Lubbock, as Donovan Smith and Tyler Shough were considered the leading contenders for starting duties throughout the summer.
Enter freshman Behren Morton, who took over starting duties in Week 6 against Oklahoma State. He posted four touchdowns to one interception in two games against the Cowboys and West Virginia.
The wheels came off of Morton against Baylor last week, as the highly-touted freshman threw five turnover-worthy passes while his targets doubled their number of drops from the previous two games drops. The mistakes came in all areas of the passing game, with an adjusted completion drop of 20% in crowded pockets.
One of Morton’s best skills is his ability to scramble, gaining 11 yards on 19 attempts this season.
McGuire reiterated that Morton would practice with the first team in preparation for TCU. No matter which quarterback is under center, Kittley aims to make this the fastest offense in the nation with a current average of 20.4 seconds per play.
The Red Raiders have been excellent in standard downs explosiveness, a byproduct of blitzing the opposing defense and limiting substitutions. A half-dozen wide receivers have at least 25 targets, with Xavier White the most explosive at 2.4 yards per route run.
Defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter has overachieved with a unit that ranks top-30 nationally in Success Rate. The defensive line has been key against the pass and rush, with a top 40 mark in line yards and pass rush.
Edge rusher Tyree Wilson has been an absolute animal, generating 40 pressures with an even balance coming from the left and right side of the defensive line. Only two other FBS edge rushers have generated more hurries than Wilson.
The Horned Frogs were featured on the latest edition of Bad Beats, putting Dykes’ offense in full focus. An offsides free play resulted in the 22nd passing touchdown of the season for Max Duggan.
TCU continues to be an offensive juggernaut with weapons in the run game and explosive targets on the outside. Kendre Miller, passed over by McGuire in recruiting at Baylor, is the seventh-best running back in elusiveness, per PFF.
If Miller wasn’t explosiveness enough in rushing attempts, wide receiver Quentin Johnston is a top-10 receiver in yards per route run of all players with a minimum of 50 targets.
Johnston had a slow start to the season but nearly doubled his total targets in Week 6 against Kansas. Another 14 targets were added against Oklahoma State, making the junior the most explosive weapon in the Big 12.
While the offense is one of the best in the nation, TCU has declined on the defensive side of the ball. All Big 12 opponents have scored at least 24 points, as the Horned Frogs have fallen to 117th in Defensive Finishing Drives.
Coordinator Joe Gillespie runs an aggressive nickel defense that lacks in bite, ranking just 80th in Havoc.
Texas Tech vs TCU Betting Pick
The battle of West Texas between Dykes and McGuire is more about which defense can get a stop.
Texas Tech runs offense at a lightning pace, relying on a top-20 rush explosiveness number to move the chains.
TCU rarely plays in opponents’ backfields with a tackles-for-loss rank outside the top 100. The Horned Frogs are mid-FBS against rush explosiveness, a testament to the high tackle grading at the second level of Gillespie’s defense.
If Texas Tech plans to keep up offensively with TCU, the Red Raiders must gain more first downs and become less reliant on chunk runs.
TCU is an elite offense in creating long plays from scrimmage both on the ground and through the air. If Texas Tech is doesn’t make contact with an opposing rusher at or behind the line of scrimmage, an explosive play is generally the result.
There’s reason to believe TCU will look to run away from Wilson or elect to pass quickly to avoid a devastating pass rush. Because Wilson lines up on both sides of the offensive line as an edge rusher, the focus lands on the tackle position. Both Andrew Coker and Brandon Coleman rank outside the top 100 in pass-blocking grades of all tackles with at least 100 snaps this season.
Duggan averages a casual 2.7 seconds per pass, but that will be sped up against the Red Raiders’ defensive line.
Action Network projects the line directly at TCU -9.5 with a total of 69.
Texas Tech has struggled to sustain drives that end in touchdowns. A Havoc Allowed ranking sheds light on 11 fumbles on the season as another hurdle the Red Raiders must overcome each week.
TCU does give up explosive plays, but a top-50 rank in Standard and Passing Downs Success Rate suggests there will be punts from the Red Raiders.
TCU is expected to continue to roll on offense, with no resistance to Miller, Duggan or any other rusher. However, Texas Tech ranks 11th in Defensive Standard Downs Success Rate, suggesting that TCU will find itself in passing downs.
With both Horned Frogs offensive tackles struggling to break the top 100 in individual pass blocking, Texas Tech will secure some stops with an aggressive pass rush.
Tennessee vs. Georgia
Athens will be the site of an SEC semifinal game that will have massive ramifications for the national title picture. Tennessee and Georgia will meet for the 52nd time since 1899, and never have both teams previously met while ranked in the top five.
The Volunteers landed at the top of the first College Football Playoff rankings but enter as more than a touchdown underdog to the third-ranked Bulldogs.
No team has found a way to stop Josh Heupel’s uptempo RPO two-deep vertical hybrid offense.
An early challenge against Pat Narduzzi’s defense at Pitt limited Tennessee to just 27 points in regulation. The Volunteers have defeated four top-25 teams since playing the Panthers, scoring at least 38 points in each.
Georgia head coach Kirby Smart led an effort to shut down Heupel’s offense last season. The Bulldogs limited the Volunteers to 17 points while recording nine tackles for loss, including six sacks.
Georgia lost much of the defense to the NFL over the offseason, as the handicap in this game resides in whether or not the Bulldogs will have a counterpunch to the Heupel offense.
Plenty of defensive coordinators struggle to game plan for a Tennessee offense that stretches the field at a pace of nearly 21 seconds per play.
Heupel has integrated pieces of offense from previous stops, from the Mike Leach Air Raid at Oklahoma in the late 1990s to a veer-and-shoot RPO method adopted from Central Florida.
The goal of Tennessee’s offense is to stretch the field, expose coverage, limit substitutions and take plenty of deep shots.
No defensive coordinator has been able to solve the Volunteers’ offense this season, as no weakness exists in the analytics.
Tennessee ranks top-10 in Offensive Success Rate, Points per Opportunity and Havoc Allowed. The Volunteers have been so successful on offense that it has played the second-fewest number of snaps in passing downs.
If a team wants to impede Tennessee, it must be elite in open-field tackling, along with one-on-one man coverage.
The knock on the Tennessee defense was the coverage grading. While that mark still resides outside the top 100, the numbers have improved through October.
The front seven ranks top-10 nationally in Line Yards and Stuff Rate, dominating opposing rush attempts.
The defensive player quickly rising up every voting board is edge rusher Byron Young with his 33 pressures.
Defensive coordinator Tim Banks prefers man-to-man coverage over zone, but the struggle to limit passing attacks continues. The Volunteers rank near dead last in allowing passing plays over 10 yards.
The deficiency in pass defense, along with poor tackle grades against elite offensive talent, is what kept Florida and Alabama within one possession.
Smart and offensive coordinator Todd Monken started the 2022 season with pace on the offense. After losing five defensive players in the first round of the NFL Draft, the offense was expected to pick up the slack.
Quarterback Stetson Bennett has led the way with a 52% pass rate, ranking top-10 in nearly every single metric. Down and distance doesn’t matter, as Georgia is the top offense in Success Rate in both standard and passing downs.
Bennett has targeted tight end Brock Bowers more than any other skill position player. The Bulldogs will run motion and line Bowers up at nearly every position on the field with a heavy tendency in line or in the slot.
The sophomore averages more than three yards per route run, serving as the most explosive option on the offense. The possible return of Adonai Mitchell at wideout only benefits Bowers, as it would give him more space to work.
The biggest handicap in this game is the stress coming to Georgia’s defense in playing single man coverage.
Pitt’s Narduzzi found success in limiting Tennessee’s offense because of his aggressive defense. Quarters is the coverage scheme that features man-to-man played deep off the ball, confusing wide receivers after the snap. The Volunteers have been excellent at identifying coverage after the snap and changing routes for big plays.
Georgia defensive coordinator Glenn Schulmann is expected to roll with a three-man rush with a spy in the box for quarterback scrambles. Georgia’s numbers indicate a pass rush outside the top 100, but a delayed blitz from a fourth or fifth pass rusher has been a key methodology to this point.
The biggest question for Georgia’s defense is playing man-to-man coverage against a number of explosive options.
The two highest-graded cornerbacks in man coverage are both on Georgia in Javon Bullard and Tykee Smith. Neither has missed a tackle in over 250 combined man coverage snaps this season.
The more impressive number comes from yards after catch allowed. Along with Smith and Bullard, cornerback Kelee Ringo has allowed just single digits on the season in yards after the catch.
Tennessee vs Georgia Betting Pick
The critical handicap in this game is how the defenses elect to defend an elite set of skill-position players.
The Tennessee offense is based on stretching the field, taking deep vertical shots to two of the best wideouts in the nation in Cedric Tillman and Jalin Hyatt.
As stated above, cornerback play for Georgia has been impeccable in man-to-man coverage. The ability to play man frees up other defenders for the spy or delayed blitz on Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker.
Bullard has been a rock at the slot cornerback position, so Tennessee crossing patterns over the middle will be limited.
The targets for the Tennessee offense will be safety Malaki Starks and linebacker Jamon Dumas-Johnson. Both players have allowed lengthy yards after the catch, while neither has logged a forced incompletion when targeted in man coverage.
In particular, Starks had a disastrous afternoon against Florida as the most targeted defensive back, allowing 73 yards after the catch on four receptions.
While Tennessee will face its most athletic opponent of the season, the ability to execute against the safety position will determine the winner in this game.
On the other side of the ball, the Volunteers lack a single defender in PFF‘s top 200 slot coverage players. Cornerback Wesley Walker has been targeted 17 times this season, allowing 13 catches and 57 yards after the catch. Bowers and fellow tight end Darnell Washington should have no resistance to routes run within the hash marks.
The Bulldogs’ Offensive Success Rate in standard and passing downs gives Smart the ability to dictate tempo. Georgia will break a couple of explosive runs, but all indications are there for Bennett to target man coverage with his best weapons.
Expect Georgia to have successful multi-play drives capped off with touchdowns by the best red-zone scoring team in the nation.
Look for the Georgia defense to play Tillman and Hyatt in one-on-one coverage while keeping a spy on Hooker. Because the cornerback play from Ringo, Bullard and Smith has been elite in man coverage, there’s an expectation the Bulldogs could force a few punts.
A man-to-man quarters scheme downfield will limit the decision-making by Hyatt and Tillman after the snap, creating a big advantage for the home defense.
Action Network projects this game at Georgia -10 with a total well above market at 78. If the Bulldogs elect to go tempo on Tennessee, the total should fly over, but the better bet is a ball-control approach with continued success in achieving first downs.
The Georgia side has a correlation to the full-game and Tennessee team total under. Last season, Georgia won the battle in time of possession and first downs. Expect more of the same from the Bulldogs in Week 10.
Alabama vs. LSU
While the SEC East semifinal is played in the afternoon, the SEC West will hinge on the nightcap in Baton Rouge.
This edition of Alabama vs. LSU comes after both teams were ranked in the top 10 of the initial College Football Playoff rankings. Each team has the chance to win the SEC and compete for the national title by winning out.
LSU fans might not have expected a ranking this high so early in the Brian Kelly era. The opening loss to Florida State showed that the Tigers were a work in progress after bringing in the most transfers from the portal.
Fast forward to November, and Kelly has an offense that ranks top-20 in Success Rate and a defense that sits top-20 in limiting opponent scoring opportunities.
Nick Saban comes off of a bye with an Alabama team outside the national picture after a devastating loss to Tennessee. The Crimson Tide responded against Mississippi State, allowing the Bulldogs to score only one offensive touchdown on the final play of regulation.
Saban and his coordinators now focus on improving the secondary and locating explosive options in the passing game.
After dealing with an injury to reigning Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young, the Crimson Tide had plenty of questions heading into Knoxville.
Young played through a sprained shoulder with just seven attempts over 20 yards against the Volunteers.
Despite the issues with the shoulder, Young remains one of the most elusive quarterbacks in the country. Opponents have recorded just eight sacks on 76 pressures, a rate well below Alabama’s pressure-to-sack ratio of 15.5% in 2021.
Just when I think I couldn’t get higher on Bryce Young as a prospect he does things like this. He played one of the best games of his career against Tennessee in a hostile environment and hurt. Gamer.
— Kevin (@Daboys_22) October 17, 2022
The search continues for an explosive option downfield, as Kobe Prentice and Ja’Corey Brooks are the only multi-targeted options averaging more than two yards per route run.
Alabama has been fantastic in passing attempts, ranking top-20 in Success Rate with the fourth-best grade in pass blocking.
The issue of explosiveness may be resolved with Tyler Harrell at full strength. The Louisville transfer has dealt with an injury since the preseason but did enter the Mississippi State game, where he received two targets.
As a member of the Cardinals last year, Harrell averaged 2.9 yards per route run on 36 targets, a number that would make him the most explosive Alabama player by far.
In terms of limiting explosiveness, the Crimson Tide defense has been the class of college football this season.
Cornerback Eli Ricks returned to action for Alabama, starting his first game of the season and playing 90 snaps against the Bulldogs. The LSU transfer was targeted nine times by Mississippi State, and the junior allowed just one catch while recording four pass breakups.
Eli Ricks had arguably his best game for Alabama so far, last week against Mississippi State 🔒
🐘 4 PBUs
🐘 1 reception allowed
🐘 19 yards allowed
His first full outing for the Tide and he lived up to his original hype 🔥 pic.twitter.com/xbQBSQIyMb
— Redshirt Heisman (@TasteOfSport) October 26, 2022
Defensive coordinator Pete Golding inherits a shutdown cornerback at full strength in Ricks — one capable of allowing Alabama to run man coverage.
The Crimson Tide may be the best defense in the country when defending passing downs. Alabama ranks sixth in third-down defense, and top-10 rankings in Success Rate and explosiveness in passing downs forces plenty of punts from opponents.
The ability to get offenses off the field when they fall behind schedule is complemented by a highly-ranked pass rush.
Quarterback Jayden Daniels has reached the level of consistency Kelly has preached all season.
The Arizona State transfer has recorded six passing touchdowns and just a single turnover-worthy play over the last three games against Tennessee, Florida and Ole Miss.
A season-long issue with drops has come to an end, as the team has combined for just two drops in the past two games. Wide receiver Kayshon Boutte had his first drop-free FBS game in a victory over Ole Miss on Oct. 22.
Outside of the passing game, Daniels has been electric on the ground with nearly 200 yards and six touchdowns. The quarterback had created 17 missed tackles through the first half of the schedule, trumping that with 14 missed tackles created in the past two games.
LSU’s offensive line has been fantastic in the trench, ranking top -three nationally in Stuff Rate and Line Yards.
Alabama vs LSU Betting Pick
With Ricks at full strength, the ability to cover Boutte in one-on-one man coverage is a large plus for Alabama.
This frees up extra defenders to assist edge positions in outside zone-read attempts from Daniels and the running back combination of Armoni Goodwin and Josh Williams. After missing a month with an injury, Goodwin returned for the Ole Miss game and recorded eight carries.
The offensive line’s ability to give Daniels time to throw is critical. The youth movement in the trench is gaining more experience, but left tackle Will Campbell had two of his worst-graded games in the past two contests against Florida and Ole Miss.
Meanwhile, right tackle Emery Jones has allowed pressure in every game since Week 4. The LSU offensive line is improving at a more rapid pace in the ground game, but defending a stiff pass rush is still a work in progress.
The biggest issue with the Alabama offense has been a lack of explosiveness and penalties.
While props on Harrell are suggested, the penalty issues seem to be improving after recording just three against Mississippi State. For a Crimson Tide team that ranks 120th in penalties, the low number of fouls against the Bulldogs is a large positive.
The Tigers have struggled in coverage this year, ranking 91st, per PFF. LSU sits 120th in Defensive Passing Expected Points, allowing 29 passes over 20 yards this season.
Young will have plenty of success throwing against this secondary, especially with large discrepancies in efficiency during passing downs when the Alabama offense takes on the LSU defense.
Action Network projects Alabama as 11-point favorites as the number floats in a dead zone.
There’s reason to believe the Crimson Tide defense can ultimately limit scoring attempts from LSU if Ricks puts Boutte on an island. Considering the poor grading on the Tigers’ offensive line in recent games, passing downs may be a struggle for LSU.
On the opposite side, Young will continue to evade any pass rush as Alabama’s pressure-to-sack ratio continues to decrease.
LSU’s back seven has been poor in coverage, giving Alabama the green light to attack with a dozen different targets in search of explosive plays.