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Will Alabama Play With a Chip on Its Shoulder? — College Football Week 10 Preview

Arkansas v Alabama
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Key games between ranked teams highlight the schedule for Week 10 of the 2017 college football season. Here’s a preview of the action:

Saturday, November 4

Can Penn State Bounce Back?

Penn State v Ohio State
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(7) Penn State at (24) Michigan State | Spartan Stadium, East Lansing, Mich.; 12 p.m. (ET) on Fox

Seventh-ranked Penn State (7–1, 4–1 Big Ten) was thisclose to beating Michigan and Ohio State in consecutive weeks and taking control of the Big Ten East, but the Nittany Lions squandered an 18-point lead to the Buckeyes and suffered their first loss of the season. Penn State doesn’t get a break this week; they travel to East Lansing to face scrappy Michigan State (6–2, 4–1). The Spartans had their own terrible loss last Saturday, dropping a 39–31 decision to Northwestern in overtime.

While it will be great for the Nittany Lions if running back Saquon Barkley regains his Heisman-esque form, it’s the play of quarterback Trace McSorely against MSU’s shaky secondary that’s most likely to help PSU win. Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke is good enough to scorch the Nittany Lions defense, but his inconsistency could keep them from pulling the upset.

Clemson Can Still Repeat as National Champ

Clemson v Syracuse
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(4) Clemson at (20) N.C. State | Carter-Finley Stadium, Raleigh, N.C.; 3:30 p.m. (ET) on ABC
Defending national champion Clemson (7–1, 5–1 ACC) arguably benefitted most from the first College Football Playoff rankings. The Tigers moved from sixth in the AP Top 25 into the coveted top four of the CFP ranks, indicating the committee thought Clemson’s upset loss to Syracuse last month was a fluke partially attributed to the injury suffered by quarterback Kelly Bryant in that game.

Bryant returned to form last week in a win over Georgia Tech, but he’ll need to be even better against No. 20 N.C. State (6–2, 4–0). Led by Bradley Chubb, the Wolfpack defense is designed to crush quarterbacks, especially with the ACC Atlantic lead on the line. This is a de-facto elimination game for the Tigers. If they lose, there will be a new champ crowned in January.

Is This the Biggest Bedlam Game Ever?

Bedlam Preview
(5) Oklahoma at (11) Oklahoma State | Boone Pickens Stadium, Stillwater, Okla.; 4 p.m. (ET) on FS1

Fifth-ranked Oklahoma (7–1, 4–1 Big 12) and 11th-ranked Oklahoma State (7–1, 4–1) are part of a four-team logjam at the top of the Big 12, making this year’s Bedlam Rivalry game even more important. Oh, and the losing team is not only out of the conference title hunt, but their national championship aspirations will likely vanish, too. No pressure, folks.

Games like this are made for players like Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield and Cowboys quarterback Mason Rudolph to shine — or fade into history. Oklahoma has to defend the pass better than it did in its upset loss to Iowa State, while the Oklahoma State defense can’t give up the same ground it has to lesser teams and expect to stay close. This should be the most entertaining game of the week.

How Mad Is Alabama at Being Ranked No. 2?

Arkansas v Alabama
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(19) LSU at (2) Alabama | Bryant-Denny Stadium, Tuscaloosa, Ala.; 8 p.m. (ET) on CBS

Poor LSU (6–2, 3–1 SEC), the team that was left for dead after losing to Troy. The 19th-ranked Tigers have rallied from that bad defeat to regain a place in the rankings and position themselves as a team who can stop the juggernaut that is AP poll No. 1 Alabama (8–0, 5–0). Things were going so well! Then…the College Football Playoff committee went and ranked Georgia over the Crimson Tide. Ooof.

One can only imagine that Nick Saban spent Tuesday night personally calling every ‘Bama player, coach, cheerleader and alumni to tell them how badly the CFP disrespected his pigskin dynasty. The Crimson Tide already had enough talent to blow out LSU at home — remember the Jalen Hurts–led offense has scored more than 40 points six times already this season — but this fresh slap in the face of Houndstooth Nation might mean that Ed Orgeron’s team will get beaten by triple digits.

Miami Needs to Beat a Ranked Team

Syracuse v Miami
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(13) Virginia Tech at (10) Miami | Hard Rock Stadium, Miami; 8 p.m. (ET) on ABC

Tenth-ranked Miami (7–0, 5–0 ACC) has lived on the edge this season, escaping with narrow wins against unranked Florida State, Georgia Tech, Syracuse and North Carolina. The Hurricanes finally have the opportunity to beat a ranked opponent when they host No. 13 Virginia Tech (7–1, 3–1) Saturday night.

Much like the Clemson–N.C. State contest earlier in the day is to the ACC Atlantic, the Miami–Virginia Tech game is to the ACC Coastal — a sort-of division championship game. The winners stay alive for the conference and national titles; the losers think about the TaxSlayer Bowl or the Belk Bowl. Miami quarterback Malik Rosier is the key. If he can move the ball against the Hokies 9th-ranked defense, the Hurricanes should be able to win. If he can’t, Tech QB Josh Jackson will get his chances against the Miami defense.

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