Week 10 games to watch:
No. 8 Georgia (6-1) vs. No. 6 Florida (7-1), Saturday, Ch.2, 12:30 p.m. PDT
The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, Fla., will feature both teams in the top 10 for the second season in a row. With Kirby Smart at Georgia and Dan Mullen at Florida, the expectation is that this game will again determine the winner of the Southeastern Conference’s East Division in most years. Both teams have stout defenses. Surprisingly, Florida’s offense with Kyle Trask at quarterback has shown more explosion of late than Georgia’s with three-year starter Jake Fromm. Is this the game that Smart lets Fromm show what he can do, or will a conservative plan keep this closer than it needs to be?
Miami (4-4) at Florida State (4-4), Saturday, Ch.7, 12:30 p.m. PDT
While the Georgia-Florida rivalry is on its way to restoring its national relevance, Miami-Florida State is still lagging far behind. That said, for college football fans from the 1980s and 90s, seeing the orange and green and the garnet and gold on the same field brings back sweet nostalgia. And while both teams are mired in mediocrity, this is actually a pretty huge game for each program. In his second year at Florida State after going 5-7 and missing a bowl game last season, Willie Taggart needs any win he can get, and beating a rival would weigh extra heavily toward him getting a third season. In his first season at Miami, Manny Diaz doesn’t have the same kind of pressure, but a triumph in Tallahassee would elevate emotions early in his tenure.
No. 9 Utah (7-1) at Washington (5-3), Saturday, Ch.11, 1 p.m.
This is one of the biggest games of the Kyle Whittingham era at Utah. The Utes have climbed back into the top 10 after losing at USC and have an outside shot at the College Football Playoff. It could be a while before Utah gets back here. It has a senior quarterback in Tyler Huntley and a senior running back in Zack Moss who have helped the program build to this point. Plus, the defense is dominant and will lose talent this offseason. Utah needs this game much more than Washington, which has played in three straight New Year’s Six bowl games under Chris Petersen and won two of the last three Pac-12 championships.These teams battled to a defensive standstill in last year’s Pac-12 title game with Washington winning 10-3.
No. 15 Southern Methodist (8-0) at No. 24 Memphis (7-1), Saturday, Ch.7, 4:30 p.m. PDT
Southern Methodist will play its biggest game in more than 30 years. The NCAA committee on infractions gave this program the “death penalty” for a slough of recruiting violations in the 1980s — SMU did not play football games in 1987 and 1988 — but now the Mustangs are very much alive. ESPN’s “College GameDay” will be there to witness the resurrection of SMU, an exciting development which also probably makes this the biggest game in Memphis football history. All of those stakes turn what once appeared to be a random American Athletic Conference game into must-see TV. Throw in two dynamic offenses that figure to light up the scoreboard, and you’ve got some real entertainment.
No. 7 Oregon (7-1) at USC (5-3), Saturday, Ch.11, 5 p.m.
Oregon has reeled off seven straight wins since its heart-breaking season-opening loss to Auburn at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. If the Ducks can run the table, they’ll have a reasonable shot at being selected for the College Football Playoff. They can’t worry about whether the CFP committee would choose them over a one-loss Alabama, Louisiana State or Oklahoma. They just have to win each week and pray for help. While just about everyone is viewing USC’s Clay Helton as a coach on his way out, he’s standing about as tall as anyone could have expected as November hits. The Trojans control their destiny in the Pac-12 South at 4-1 with a head-to-head tiebreaker over Utah. Helton’s squad has given itself a shot at winning the league despite injuries to quarterback JT Daniels, current starting quarterback Kedon Slovis and what feels like the entire defense. USC has always looked like a different team at the Coliseum under Helton, and it would be a shock if the Trojans don’t play another inspired game to challenge the Ducks.