Week 10 College football best bets, odds and game picks including Washington vs USC
Week 9 was another terrific week of college football, headlined by a massive win for Oregon over Utah in Salt Lake City. Once again, we suffered a bad beat in the column as a fight broke out in the final minutes of East Carolina-UTSA, which ultimately led to a Pirates touchdown with 15 seconds remaining to ruin our cover. Lately, that’s just the way things go.
Now, with last weekend in the rearview mirror it’s time to get into this Week 10 slate with my weekly best bets column. We went 2-2 in the column last week — bringing us to 14-13 over the past 8 weeks. However, as I’ve said a lot this year, regression was to be expected after we cashed at an unsustainable 63% rate a season ago. There’s plenty of time to turn things around in 2023, so let’s get back to it this week!
We have a very compelling slate ahead of us, including massive games in the SEC, Pac-12 and Big 12. With Saturday rapidly approaching, here is a look at my best bets for Week 10 of the college football season. And remember, you can check out all of our CFB predictions for the Week 10 games.
Washington Huskies team total over 39.5 vs USC Trojans (-110)
Odds available at PointsBet Sportsbook at time of publishing. Washington -3 is also a playable option.
USC was supposed to be in the conversation for the College Football Playoff heading into the season, but that ship has already sailed as the Trojans were crushed at Notre Dame before returning home and suffering a defeat against Utah in Week 8, in which USC surrendered 34 points and 482 yards to a Utes offense that is outside the top 100 in EPA per pass, EPA per rush and early downs EPA (CFB-Graphs). Needless to say, the Trojans will face a major step up in competition this week in Washington’s elite passing offense, and things could get ugly.
Washington has stumbled a bit following its win over Oregon on October 14, and while a close game against a rising Arizona State team was to be expected after the emotional high of the previous week, a middling performance against Stanford the following week was puzzling. It was confirmed that Penix and many of the Washington players had the flu on game day, so the lack of execution in key areas could be partially explained by that. Even with some sloppier than usual execution, this team still put up 42 points, Penix threw for nearly 400 yards in the game and Washington likely wins by closer to 20 points if it wasn’t for a pair of red-zone turnovers in the second half. Assuming that Penix and this elite wide-receiver room are operating at full strength, it shouldn’t take much for the nation’s 2nd-ranked passing offense to shred this USC defense
Not only is USC stepping up in class, but this will be the 7th conference game in a row without a bye week for the Trojans, a stretch that has included close wins against Colorado, California and Arizona, plus the aforementioned losses to Notre Dame and Utah. I can assure you that if there was ever a time for Washington’s offense to hang a big number, this would be the week, especially considering the national spotlight on this game. Conversely, I do expect USC to put up plenty of points and play at a quick pace, so we should see plenty of possessions in this game. Games involving USC are 8-1 to the over this season for a reason, so instead of worrying about Washington needing to win by margin, I’ll keep fading a USC defense that has allowed 40+ points in 4 of the last 5 games.
Read our full Washington vs USC predictions
Iowa State -1.5 over Kansas Jayhawks (-110)
Odds taken from game preview published on October 31. Playable to Iowa State -3.
Last week, I was all over Kansas against an Oklahoma team that was ripe to be picked off. And while the Jayhawks got the cover for us (plus the outright victory), they actually had a postgame win expectancy of just 17%, showing that Kansas was probably a little fortunate to get away with its turnover issues and still come out victorious. On the plus side, that win has now presented us with one of the best spots of the entire weekend, as we’ll get to back an underrated Iowa State team against a Kansas side that is coming off one of its biggest wins in decades over a top-10 opponent. From a handicapping perspective, there isn’t a better spot I’d want to sell high on the Jayhawks than as a ranked team against a unheralded program that is largely flying under the radar from a national perspective.
The Cyclones are in the midst of their best run of form this season, having won 3 straight games in October, with 2 of which coming on the road. It may no longer be Brocktober at Iowa State but Matt Campbell is turning in one of his best coaching jobs in years in Ames. Things should come easier against a Kansas defense that is 118th in EPA per play and 111th in EPA per pass on the year (CFB-Graphs). Furthermore, while the Jayhawks offense is elite thanks to the brilliant scheming of Lance Leipold and offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki, Iowa State is 23rd in early-downs EPA and has held 6 of its 8 opponents to under 20 points this season. So while I don’t expect Jason Bean and Kansas’ offense to be stopped entirely, the Cyclones should force Bean into some crucial mistakes, much like we saw against Oklahoma. Let’s back Iowa State to capitalize on a massive Kansas let-down spot at home.
Be sure to check out our full Kansas vs Iowa State predictions
Kansas State Wildcats +5.5 vs Texas Longhorns (-110)
Odds taken from game preview published on October 30. Playable to Kansas State +4.
I’ve been backing Kansas State heavily for the last 3 weeks and that won’t change here, as I’m betting that head coach Chris Klieman will have his team extremely prepared for a matchup that could function as a de facto Big 12 semifinal. Ever since the combination of Will Howard and freshman standout Avery Johnson at quarterback has been implemented as a 2-headed monster, this offense has taken off. After a dominant October, the Wildcats are now up to 4th in EPA per rush and 15th in offensive EPA margin, in addition to scoring 38 or more points in each of their last 3 games. These improvements will be put to the test against the best defensive front they’ve faced all season, and I’d expect offensive coordinator Collin Klien to lean on his deep and experienced offensive line.
Texas will be without Quinn Ewers at quarterback for this game and while Malik Murphy showed promise in his first game under center, this Kansas State defensive unit is an entirely different beast. The Wildcats’ defense is one of the best in the nation against the run, which should force Murphy to beat them through the air on crucial downs. On another concerning note for the Longhorns, this team is sitting at 120th in the country at red-zone possessions that ended in touchdowns, finding the end zone on just 48% of their red-zone trips. We saw this inefficiency rear its ugly head earlier this season against Oklahoma, as Texas repeatedly squandered scoring opportunities en route to its first loss of the season. That could show up against a Wildcats defense (25th in EPA margin, 22nd in EPA per pass) that is playing its best football of the season.
Arizona Wildcats +3 vs UCLA Bruins (-110)
Odds available at BetRivers Sportsbook at time of publishing.
For my fourth and final best bet on this week’s card, I’ll be backing the Arizona Wildcats once again this season. Everything I said last week about Arizona holds true this time around. All the Wildcats do is cover (7-1 ATS in 2023), and I won’t stop riding that gravy train this week. They’ll be squaring off against a UCLA defense that has one of the best defensive fronts in the country, but did struggle against DJ Uiagalelei and Oregon State in their only game against a competent quarterback on the road this season. In steps Noah Fifita, who has been playing at an All-Conference level over the last couple of weeks (11 touchdowns, 1,199 yards) to seize the starting job at Arizona. The Wildcats would likely be ranked if they had won either overtime game against Mississippi State or USC earlier in the season, but oddsmakers still haven’t caught on yet and that’s fine with me.
These teams are a combined 13-3 to the under this season, and the Arizona defense is generally undervalued in the market as the Wildcats are 42nd in early-downs EPA, 28th in EPA per pass and 12th in EPA per rush on defense. That unit shouldn’t struggle all too much this weekend against a Bruins offense that can’t pass (79th in passing success rate, 96th in EPA per pass), and is 120th in early-downs EPA. All of these signals point to the underdog in a matchup that I anticipate will be extremely close throughout. UCLA does have the better defense in this matchup, but I have full confidence in backing Fifita and the Arizona receivers over Garbers and the Bruins offense every day of the week. This is a line that opened up at a pick ’em price, so I’m getting a few extra points of value with the home underdog. Bear Down!
Be sure to check out all of our NCAAF Week 10 picks for the biggest games on Saturday