Every week throughout the season we’ll give you a college football viewing guide by highlighting the five best games of the coming weekend. We will pick those five games against the spread and highlight some other matchups that caught our eye from a betting perspective.
The college football season finally feels whole.
Not only did #MACtion make its triumphant return on Wednesday night, the Pac-12 is finally joining the fray this weekend. The Pac-12 will attempt a seven-game season over the next seven weeks and will make its 2020 debut with Arizona State and USC meeting in Fox’s Big Noon Kickoff window. That means the teams are kicking off at 9 a.m. local time.
But the Pac-12 won’t attract most of this weekend’s attention. The two biggest games of the day are No. 8 Florida vs. No. 5 Georgia in a battle for first place in the SEC East and the ACC showdown between No. 1 Clemson and No. 4 Notre Dame.
There are also good games on Thursday night, Friday night and spread throughout all of Saturday.
(Note: All times ET, point spreads/totals from BetMGM)
No. 9 BYU at No. 21 Boise State
Time: 9:45 p.m. (Friday) | TV: FS1 | Line: BYU -2.5 | Total: 59.5
BYU had to completely reconstruct its schedule with so many conferences playing league-only schedules. And when the Mountain West returned, it managed to land matchups with two of its former conference mates: Boise State and San Diego State. So far this year, the Cougars have won most of their games in blowout fashion as junior quarterback Zach Wilson has become a household name. But a trip to Boise to play on the blue turf will be a much tougher task.
The thing about this game is it’s not entirely clear who is available for Boise State. The Broncos, off to a 2-0 start, beat Air Force last week with USC transfer Jack Sears starting at QB. Sears played very well, throwing for 280 yards and three touchdowns, while usual starter Hank Bachmeier was nowhere to be seen. Boise did say that one player didn’t make the trip to Air Force due to COVID-19 protocols, but did not specify if it was Bachmeier. Either way, Sears has the talent to keep up with Wilson if this one turns into a shootout.
Sam Cooper: BYU -2.5, Nick Bromberg: Boise State +2.5
No. 23 Michigan at No. 13 Indiana
Time: Noon | TV: FS1 | Line: Michigan -2.5 | Total: 54.5
Michigan opened its season by blowing out Minnesota on the road, only to lose at home to rival Michigan State the next week. The Wolverines were three-TD favorites against MSU, but ended up losing to a team that turned it over seven times in a loss to Rutgers. Ugly. Where does Michigan turn? The Wolverines struggled running the ball vs. MSU, putting a ton of pressure on first-year starting QB Joe Milton, who threw 51 passes. On top of that, the secondary was continually shredded on deep balls by Rocky Lombardi. To beat Indiana, Michigan has a lot to clean up.
Thanks to its 2-0 start, Indiana is ranked No. 13 in the country. It’s the program’s highest ranking since 1987. The high ranking is mostly due to the season-opening win over Penn State that came down to a dramatic and controversial two-point conversion scored by quarterback Michael Penix. IU followed up that victory by going on the road and defeating Rutgers 37-21. Like it was against PSU, the offense was a little sluggish. However, the Hoosiers scored on three straight second-half drives. Perhaps that success will carry over to the Michigan game.
Sam: Michigan -2.5, Nick: Michigan -2.5
Arizona State at No. 20 USC
Time: Noon | TV: FOX | Line: USC -10.5 | Total: 58.5
College football fans are accustomed to watching #Pac12AfterDark, but this week we’re being treated to Pac-12 With Breakfast. We are projecting these teams as the top contenders to win the Pac-12 South, so it’s a treat to see them face off in Week 1 of the conference slate.
USC brings back a high-powered offense led by sophomore QB Kedon Slovis, who threw for 3,502 yards and 30 TDs in 2019 as a true freshman. The defense also has the chance to be much-improved as eight starters are back to play for new coordinator Todd Orlando. The Trojans are just 13-12 combined over the past two seasons, but have the talent to win the Pac-12 in 2020.
If Slovis isn’t the Pac-12’s best quarterback, it’s Arizona State’s Jayden Daniels. Also a sophomore, Daniels got better and better as the 2019 season progressed. Offensive weapons like Brandon Aiyuk and Eno Benjamin have moved on to the NFL, but Daniels is talented enough to elevate some of the inexperienced players around him. Not to mention, ASU should have one of the conference’s better defenses.
Sam: USC -10.5, Nick: Arizona State +10.5
No. 8 Florida vs. No. 5 Georgia
Time: 3:30 p.m. | TV: CBS | Line: Georgia -3.5 | Total: 52.5
Back from the COVID-19 outbreak that put the season on hold for a few weeks, Florida blew out Missouri last week behind another big offensive performance. The Gators had 514 yards with Kyle Trask throwing for 345 yards and four touchdowns while spreading the ball to nine different receivers. Defensively, Florida was missing multiple members of its secondary for the Missouri game and it’s not known who will return against Georgia. What we do know is that defensive end Zach Carter and linebacker Antwaun Powell are suspended for the first half due to their role in the brawl that took place at the end of the first half last week.
While Florida’s offense looked explosive last week, Georgia’s was very underwhelming in a 14-3 win over Kentucky. The Bulldogs ran the ball well, going for 215 yards on 43 carries, but the passing game with Stetson Bennett didn’t bring much to the table. Bennett was just 9 of 13 for 131 yards and threw two interceptions in UK territory. Will Georgia rely heavily on its running attack against Florida, or let Bennett try to make some plays? Florida’s defense has been one of the SEC’s worst so far this year. Perhaps a heavy ground game can take some pressure off the Georgia defense, too. Several of UGA’s top players were injured against Kentucky and could be out vs. the Gators, so neither side will be at full strength for the game that will more than likely decide the SEC East.
Sam: Florida +3.5, Nick: Florida +3.5
No. 1 Clemson at No. 4 Notre Dame
Time: 7:30 p.m. | TV: NBC | Line: Clemson -5.5 | Total: 52
Clemson avoided the upset to Boston College last week and now heads to South Bend with first place in the ACC — and an inside track to a College Football Playoff berth — on the line. The big story, of course, is that the Tigers will once again be without star quarterback Trevor Lawrence, who tested positive for COVID-19. In Lawrence’s absence, true freshman D.J. Uiagalelei threw for 342 yards in the 34-28 win over BC. Uiagalelei relied heavily on seniors Travis Etienne, Cornell Powell and Amari Rodgers to get past the Eagles, and those three should again have huge roles on Saturday night against the Irish. Clemson will also be without three starters on defense due to injury.
Like Clemson, Notre Dame is also undefeated entering this matchup. The Irish have allowed 13 points or less in five of their six wins, so the defense is the team’s strength. Notre Dame is also really strong on the offensive line and have a senior quarterback in Ian Book who has played in a ton of big games. While Notre Dame’s ground attack has been solid this year, the passing game has lacked explosiveness. Book is averaging just 204 passing yards per game. It’s a recipe that has worked against Notre Dame’s other ACC opponents, but Book and his receivers will likely be asked to do more in order to upset Clemson.
Sam: Clemson -5.5, Nick: Clemson -5.5
Head-to-head ATS: Sam: 20-19, Nick: 16-23
Week 10’s best bets
Nick Bromberg (Last week: 2-0-1, Overall: 13-9-1)
No. 14 Oklahoma State at Kansas State: The Wildcats are double-digit home underdogs after losing on the road at West Virginia. I’m not sure that loss is an accurate reflection of Kansas State. KSU is 4-1 as a home underdog since Chris Klieman arrived in Manhattan and I think that stretches to 5-1. Oklahoma State is giving too many points and I wouldn’t be stunned if KSU found a way to win outright. Pick: Kansas State +12.5
Tennessee at Arkansas: Tennessee is giving points and has failed to cover in each of its last three games. All three of those games have been convincing losses, too. This is a much-improved Arkansas team that has covered in five of its first six games. I’m going with the Hogs to win outright and the under could be a good play here, too. Pick: Arkansas +1.5
Stanford at No. 12 Oregon: Oregon is the Pac-12 favorite, and I’m not sure what to think about Stanford. The offense struggled in 2019 and Paulson Adebo opted out. Despite the Ducks’ significant number of opt outs — not having Penei Sewell may significantly impact Oregon’s ability to run the ball — and no publicly named replacement for Justin Herbert, I think Oregon scores a comfortable win. Pick: Oregon -10.5
Sam Cooper (Last week: 1-2, Overall: 16-13)
Air Force at Army: The under is a must-play when two service academies meet. I know that 41.5 is a low number, but the under has hit six straight times in this matchup. The average combined score in those six games has been 29.5 with those games going under the total by an average of 18.9 points. Pick: Under 41.5
North Carolina at Duke: Since Mack Brown’s return, UNC has typically rebounded after losses, going 5-2 against the spread in those spots. I don’t envision Sam Howell and the UNC offense having any issues moving the ball against Duke. Duke put up 53 points against Charlotte last week, but mainly did so by running the ball. That won’t work against UNC, forcing turnover-prone Chase Brice to go to the air. Over a 60-minute span, the advantage goes strongly to UNC. Pick: North Carolina -10.5
Arizona at Utah: Since Kevin Sumlin became Arizona’s head coach, the under is 6-2 in games where the Wildcats were an underdog of at least seven points. On the Utah side, the last 15 times the Utes were favored by double digits in Pac-12 play, the under has gone 12-2-1. Pick: Under 59.5
For other Week 10 picks from Sam Cooper, click here.
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