LSU, Tennessee, Clemson Chase November Glory

LSU Tigers DE BJ Ojulari
LSU Tigers DE BJ Ojulari
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NCAA Week 10 - What makes college football so special? There are countless different answers to that question, depending on whom you ask. Some would say that the storied tradition of the sport, its red-blooded rivalries and blueblood showdowns, is the main draw. Others would point instead to the opportunity for underdog stories far less likely than those in professional sports—the rise of completely unexpected contenders, like this year's emergences at Illinois and TCU. There are those for whom college football is a chance to bond with family, those who prefer finding the best lines to bet against, and those who simply love watching the sport for its inherent excitement.

Whatever your reason to enjoy college football, November is the month where things come to a head. This month culminates with the Thanksgiving weekend spectacle of Rivalry Week, a multi-day drama filled with battles between teams that have been playing for decades. But it also brings the conclusion of those upstart successes' hunt for postseason glory: by the end of this month, we'll know if the likes of the Illini and Horned Frogs are bound for the College Football Playoff or the New Year's Six. For those who watch for the pageantry or the parity, who watch to share their excitement or to test their bets, and who watch the sport for what it is, this month is a cavalcade of everything worth caring about football for.

Rivalry Week isn't here just yet, but the first notes of college football's finale are beginning to sound. The fate of both divisions in the SEC, where the champion is almost certain to make the playoff, is at stake this week as rivals clash in Athens and Baton Rouge. As for the unexpected standouts, Oregon State tests its first AP Poll ranking since 2013 and Maryland looks to win seven regular-season games for the first time since 2014. There are no off weeks in November—every undefeated record, every chance at the CFP, every momentous year, and every rivalry streak is on the line in the final month of the regular season. Whatever you're watching for in college football's inimitable denouement, it all begins to end this outstanding Saturday.

All times are listed as Eastern.

Oregon State Beavers at Washington Huskies (-4.5)—10:30 p.m. Friday (ESPN2)

Overall Oregon State Washington
2022 F+ 39 34
When Oregon State has the ball Offense Defense
2022 F+ 43 72
2022 EPA/pass 79 126
2022 EPA/rush 48 83
When Washington has the ball Defense Offense
2022 F+ 36 18
2022 EPA/pass 31 5
2022 EPA/rush 84 22

Chance Nolan was supposed to be the key to Oregon State's resurgence. As a fourth-year sophomore last season, he broke out with 8.4 yards per attempt, 19 touchdowns, and 10 interceptions, adding 286 yards on 4.1 yards per carry with his legs. Alongside 1,337-yard rusher B.J. Baylor, he was the star of the Beavers' first bowl team in eight years, and his first full season offered plenty of reason for optimism that he would continue to emerge as one of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-12.

Oregon State is 6-2 this season, their only losses coming to top-15 USC and Utah teams,but Nolan hasn't been the centerpiece of their Cinderella season. While he started the season strong, he unraveled completely in those back-to-back losses, averaging 5.4 yards per attempt with no touchdowns and six interceptions before he left the Utah game with a concussion. Nolan hasn't played since, while the Beavers have found their way to three straight wins under the command of backup Ben Gulbranson (8.3 yards per attempt, five touchdowns, three interceptions). While he's still expected to reclaim his starting role once he's completely healthy, Nolan's status for this game is still in some doubt, which has muddled the decision at quarterback for head coach Jonathan Smith.

But the Beavers have still found their way to the top 25, and their brilliantly consistent run game is to thank for that. Back in 2018, Smith's first year on the job, Oregon State failed to rush for 150 yards in more than half of their games. This season, they're one of just six teams to reach that mark in every game they have played, exclusive company that even the likes of Oregon, Alabama, and Georgia aren't in. The Beavers' overall rushing stats are solid if unremarkable—they're in the mid-40s in rushing EPA and success rate, and hover around average in yards per carry at every level—but their ability to move the ball on the ground against all opponents has been invaluable. Oregon State has averaged under 200 yards passing in Gulbranson's three starts, but their run game has been key in elevating them to a 3-0 record in that stretch.

Even more stark, however, is the way the Beavers' run defense has turned a corner in the same span. After a solid start in 2021 (105 rushing yards allowed per game, 3.5 yards per carry allowed in their first six games), this unit struggled in the second half, giving up 178 rushing yards per game and 4.6 yards per carry. This season, that pattern has reversed: Oregon State surrendered 153 rushing yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry in Nolan's starts, but has stepped up in his absence and allowed just 66 rushing yards per game on 2.6 yards per carry with Gulbranson at the helm. While the Beavers' overall rushing stats are still poor (they're 99th in success rate and 96th in explosiveness allowed on runs), those numbers belie how much they have improved lately.

Admittedly, strength of schedule is a factor in that rise. Stanford is mediocre on the ground, especially at the line; Washington State is solid, but barely runs that ball at all; and while Colorado's run game is the best element of their offense, it's still only average. Washington, which ranks in the top 30 of rushing EPA and success rate, is a much more difficult foe. Wayne Taulapapa (449 yards) and Cameron Davis (329 yards) have been solid, but the bigger impact has arguably been the Huskies' offensive line, which has been a surprisingly talented and complete unit given how much turnover it experienced in the offseason. PFF grades all five starters well above average as run-blockers, but sixth-year senior and captain Jaxson Kirkland has led the group since returning from injury in Week 4. As good as quarterback Michael Penix Jr. has been, he likely won't be able to drag the offense to a win without the line stepping up and buoying the run game to success against Oregon State's flourishing defense.

Watch for:

  • Will Nolan be fully ready to take over the offense, or will the Beavers need to lean on Gulbranson in his biggest game yet?
  • Can Oregon State's pass rush (82nd in front seven havoc) get pressure on Penix against the Huskies' elite offensive line (second in front seven havoc allowed)?
  • Will Washington's decent run defense (83rd in EPA, 75th in success rate) be enough to offset their struggling secondary (126th in EPA, 96th in success rate)?

FEI Outright Pick: Washington by 0.3.

Maryland Terrapins at Wisconsin Badgers (-4.5)—12 p.m. (BTN)

Overall Maryland Wisconsin
2022 F+ 25 26
When Maryland has the ball Offense Defense
2022 F+ 20 21
2022 EPA/pass 20 58
2022 EPA/rush 23 49
When Wisconsin has the ball Defense Offense
2022 F+ 57 44
2022 EPA/pass 30 69
2022 EPA/rush 61 33

Three years ago, Maryland gave up 207 plays of 10 yards or more in the 2019 season. To put that number in context, it's more than New Mexico State allowed while going 2-10 and giving up 41 points per game. Even as recently as last season, the Terrapins allowed 181 such plays, worse than the likes of Rutgers and UConn. But this year, they have allowed only 100 10-yard plays (tied for 40th overall) and only 29 20-yard plays (tied for 23rd). Maryland is among the top 25 in explosiveness allowed by both the run (21st) and the pass (17th), and they're 11th in the nation with an overall explosiveness rate allowed of just 8.3%.

For a Terrapins defense that has its struggles with limiting opponents on short gains—they're 84th in rushing and 85th in passing success rate—that ability to rein in the big plays that they used to allow constantly has allowed this unit to lead an impressive 6-2 start. Redshirt seniors Ahmad McCullough and Fa'najae Gotay have been the key to that transformation, combining for a minuscule 4.2% missed tackle rate while ranking first and second among Maryland linebackers in tackles. In the secondary, cornerback Deonte Banks has enjoyed a sensational return from back-to-back shortened seasons, holding opposing receivers to 17 completions on 39 targets and a ridiculous 2.0 yards after catch on those targets.

Maryland's defense will face a fascinating matchup this week, though perhaps not the one you might expect given their opponent's reputation. The Wisconsin run game has been solid with Braelon Allen (870 yards, 5.8 yards per carry) leading the group, but it has produced little in the way of big plays: Allen has just 15 carries for double-digit yardage (tied for 70th in FBS), and Wisconsin as a team has a 9.9% rushing explosiveness rate, ranking 110th nationally. Part of that comes down to how predictable it is that they'll run the ball—which they do on nearly 60% of their offensive plays—and they do pick up strong yardage in the open field, where their rushers average 1.86 yards per carry (12th overall). But they haven't created many runs that have made it to that point, struggling to accelerate past opposing linebackers and produce opportunities for game-changing carries.

Instead, the Badgers' big-play threat has come in the unexpected form of Graham Mertz. By adjusted yards per attempt, a catch-all measure of passing efficiency that incorporates touchdowns and interceptions, Mertz was the eighth-worst qualified quarterback in FBS last year, sharing the unenviable company of Noah Vedral and Spencer Petras. With a subterranean 6.7 yards per pass and a dismal 19:16 touchdown:interception ratio, expecting anything better than average from Mertz in 2022 would have seemed foolish. But amid a largely disappointing season for Wisconsin, currently 4-4 and now a month removed from the shocking dismissal of Paul Chryst, Mertz has put in an altogether stunning campaign. Among qualified Big Ten passers, he has risen from ninth last year to fourth this year in yards per pass, from eighth to second in touchdowns, and from worst to fifth-worst in interceptions.

Most importantly, Mertz's arm has been the only reliable way for Wisconsin to move the ball quickly. Under his watch, the passing attack ranks 20th in explosive-play rate, and he has completed 18 passes on throws of 20 or more yards, second in the Big Ten. His receiving corps doesn't have much in the way of depth, with only two targets hauling in more than 10 receptions, but those players—Chimere Dike and Skyler Bell—have been exceptional, combining for 11.4 yards per target and 16.5 yards per catch. The Badgers haven't faced many pass defenses as efficient as Maryland's, but they might have the pieces to beat the Terrapins in open space and break this game open.

Watch for:

  • Can Maryland passer Taulia Tagovailoa (8.5 yards per attempt, 13 touchdowns, five interceptions) dominate a middling Wisconsin secondary in his return from injury?
  • Will the Wisconsin run game be able to lock down the Terrapins' dynamic duo of Roman Hemby and Antwaine Littleton (990 yards, 6.4 yards per carry)?
  • Is Wisconsin's offense capable of sustaining its remarkable success on scoring opportunities (5.26 points per drive past the opponent's 40, second in FBS)?

FEI Outright Pick: Wisconsin by 0.5.

Tennessee Volunteers at Georgia Bulldogs (-8.5)—3:30 p.m. (CBS)

Overall Tennessee Georgia
2022 F+ 5 2
When Tennessee has the ball Offense Defense
2022 F+ 2 1
2022 EPA/pass 7 22
2022 EPA/rush 16 5
When Georgia has the ball Defense Offense
2022 F+ 29 4
2022 EPA/pass 103 14
2022 EPA/rush 10 8

Georgia and Tennessee both rank in the top 10 of EPA per play and have a success rate on both passes and rushes of over 54% (also top-10 nationally). That brief summary might give you the idea that these two offenses are similar, but that couldn't be further from the truth. The Bulldogs' team leader in receiving yards and touchdowns is a tight end; the Volunteers' is a wideout who ranks first in the SEC in both stats. Georgia finds its passing success in spite of the 39th-highest pass rate in FBS; Tennessee finds its passing success in part because of the 36th-lowest pass rate in FBS. Hendon Hooker leads the nation with 15 passes of 40 or more yards; Stetson Bennett has fewer such passes than Tennessee backup Joe Milton III.

These teams are both averaging over 40 points per game, but the ways they have gotten there have been mirror images of each other. Georgia's offense is designed to make the most of Bennett's strengths: in the pocket, he's a confident, accurate passer with great vision and a knack for picking up the necessary yardage. Tennessee is likewise built around what Hooker does best: it focuses on creating separation for receivers and allows significant pressure in the understanding that he can make plays despite it. The differences between these two quarterbacks are pronounced, and they have led to two drastically different offensive attacks.

In such a dramatic stylistic contrast, the ability to control the tempo of this game is critical. Tennessee's games this season have averaged 150.4 plays, the seventh-highest rate in FBS; Georgia's have averaged 130.9, the 24th-lowest. The Bulldogs' defense can't do much to limit the pace of play, but their offense can, and its ability to stay on the field will be critical. This unit is among the nation's best in staying on schedule (fifth in standard-downs success rate), and thanks to Bennett's ability to read the field and the rushing offense's consistent yardage, it leads the nation in success rate on passing downs. As a result, the Bulldogs averaged some 8.4 plays per drive, fourth-highest in FBS and second-highest among non-triple-option teams. Tennessee's ability to wear down defenses has earned plenty of attention, but by extending possessions and putting pressure on opponents to make the most of theirs, Georgia has done much the same despite how different their offense is from the Volunteers'.

While these teams are both brilliant in almost every area, they do each have one glaring weakness, creating an intriguing matchup among those battles of strengths. While Bennett has been a solid quarterback, Georgia's passing game is the relative weak link on an offense that has been most effective on the ground. Behind co-lead backs Daijun Edwards and Kenny McIntosh, the Bulldogs rank eighth in EPA, third in success rate, and 19th in explosiveness on runs. Bennett is a match for that level of effectiveness in his consistency—he has picked up 117 first downs through the air, second only to high-volume passer Will Rogers in the SEC—but as we have seen, he isn't known for his deep ball.

Of course, Georgia doesn't need to stretch the field to beat Tennessee; they'd arguably prefer to stick with the short gains they have reliably gotten all season and hold the ball for long stretches in a slugfest. But the best way to beat the Volunteers' defense has been to wear out their secondary: their first seven opponents all passed over 40 times, and when Kentucky only threw 27 passes last week, they lost while scoring just six points. Tennessee's run defense has been a solid unit—top-15 in EPA, success rate, and explosiveness—but most of their foes have taken advantage of their defensive imbalance, leading to the second-highest passing rate faced by any defense this season. If the Bulldogs can maintain their game control while giving more control to Bennett and letting him test Tennessee's fatal flaw, it could set them up well to pull off a pivotal rivalry win.

Watch for:

  • Can the Bulldogs' elite secondary shut down the fleet-footed receivers that have defined Tennessee's success through the air?
  • Will either pass rush (both 80th or worse in front seven havoc rate) get past a tough offensive line (both top-10 in front seven havoc rate allowed) and create pressure?
  • Will Georgia's struggles in ending opponent drives (third in success rate allowed on standard downs, 22nd on passing downs) allow Tennessee to exhaust their defense?

FEI Outright Pick: Georgia by 8.1.

Clemson Tigers (-3.5) at Notre Dame Fighting Irish—7:30 p.m. (NBC)

Overall Clemson Notre Dame
2022 F+ 14 28
When Clemson has the ball Offense Defense
2022 F+ 31 22
2022 EPA/pass 48 26
2022 EPA/rush 35 105
When Notre Dame has the ball Defense Offense
2022 F+ 13 52
2022 EPA/pass 33 46
2022 EPA/rush 23 102

Notre Dame produces a pass breakup or interception on just 3.3% of plays, the lowest rate of any defense in FBS. That's a glaring problem, but it shouldn't overshadow the fact that their secondary is a very strong group overall. The Fighting Irish have held opponents to a remarkable 32.7% passing success rate, seventh in the nation, and an 8.0% explosive play rate, ranking 24th. Only two teams have passed for more than 250 yards against this secondary—and one of them, Stanford, had to throw 39 times to do so. C.J. Stroud, Drake Maye, and Garrett Shrader—the top three quarterbacks Notre Dame has faced, all in the upper echelon of passers this season—have combined for an average of just 7.3 yards per attempt and a 55.9% completion rate against the Irish.

Enter DJ Uiagalelei, who (like Shrader last week) faces off against Notre Dame in clear need of a bounce back from his last outing. Even after the Syracuse game, in which he threw two interceptions and was benched, Uiagalelei has still taken a step up this season, but lurking questions about how prepared he is to lead a playoff-caliber team are cropping up again after his recent setback. It does help his case as the starter, though it makes things more difficult for the Tigers, that highly touted backup Cade Klubnik has done little in his appearances this season. Nevertheless, Clemson clearly needs more consistency in the passing game to be seen as a true title contender; their rushing attack has been decent, but it can't be trusted to bear the weight placed on it during the comeback against the Orange.

Beating Notre Dame through the air will be no easy task, but it hasn't been forgotten that Uiagalelei passed for 439 yards in his first career start against the Irish two years ago—facing a pass defense that otherwise allowed only one 300-yard game (to future first overall pick Trevor Lawrence). His ability to create big plays stood out in that game, and it's a factor that was conspicuously absent amid his sophomore slump in 2021, when his 30.5% completion rate on deep passes was second-lowest among qualified ACC quarterbacks.

Uiagelelei emphasized setting a more consistent base to throw from over the offseason, and those results have shown most clearly in his explosiveness. His 48 passes of 20 or more yards are the third-most of any ACC passer, and he's maintaining a respectable 41.7% completion rate. Uiagalelei's success on such difficult passes, and in general, is particularly admirable because of the lack of high-end talent in Clemson's receiving corps. Key receivers Joseph Ngata and Beaux Collins both have a catch rate under 60%, both having dropped multiple passes, and four of the Tigers' top targets are averaging under 5 yards after catch per reception. Uiagalelei hasn't been entirely hung out to dry, but he's carrying a lot of the weight for Clemson's passing offense. Facing Notre Dame will be a critical test of just how well he can shoulder that load, especially after some cracks began to show against Syracuse.

For the Irish, the biggest defensive question is not whether they can keep a handle on opposing receivers—they should be able to do so without much difficulty, ensuring Uiagelelei has the full responsibility of the Tigers' passing attack. What's less certain is whether they can get past Clemson's pass protection and create pressure, solidifying their advantage in the open field by shortening plays and forcing hurried throws. Uiagelelei has struggled when under pressure this season, averaging 5.3 yards per attempt in such situations (11th of 14 qualified ACC passers), but the Tigers' offensive line has done well at keeping him upright, allowing a mere 8.3% front seven havoc rate (29th in FBS). If star edge rusher Isaiah Foskey, tied for ninth in the nation with seven sacks, can lead Notre Dame to threaten Uiagelelei in the pocket, it could set up an advantageous mismatch through the air and put them in position to outduel Clemson at home.

Watch for:

  • Will the Irish (4-0 when they gain over 4.5 yards per carry, but 1-3 when they don't) pick up rushing yardage against a solid but untested Clemson run defense?
  • Can Notre Dame maintain the ball control they have displayed at times (74.4 plays per game in wins) and avoid a play-rate deficit (61.3 plays per game in losses)?
  • Will the Tigers' deep roster of defensive playmakers take advantage of Drew Pyne's recent instability to make big plays at key points in this game?

FEI Outright Pick: Clemson by 3.2.

Texas Longhorns (-2.5) at Kansas State Wildcats—7 p.m. (FS1)

Overall Texas Kansas State
2022 F+ 6 8
When Texas has the ball Offense Defense
2022 F+ 13 7
2022 EPA/pass 34 15
2022 EPA/rush 62 60
When Kansas State has the ball Defense Offense
2022 F+ 16 26
2022 EPA/pass 79 40
2022 EPA/rush 33 63

Kansas State has averaged over 5 yards per carry in six games this season. They scored 28 points in each of those games, winning five of six (and losing the sixth largely because of their only multi-turnover performance this season). In the two games where they failed to rush for 5 yards per carry, though, the Wildcats scored 10 points each time, lost to Tulane, and escaped last-place Iowa State by a single point. Offensive stats will almost always correlate well with success, of course, but the way this team looks when it can run the ball is drastically different from the way it looks when it can't.

With Deuce Vaughn enjoying a stellar season (902 rushing yards, 5.9 yards per carry) and quarterback Adrian Martinez chipping in impressively (565 rushing yards, 6.1 yards per carry), that reliance on the run seemed likely to remain Kansas State's game plan all season. But with a nagging injury forcing Martinez out of the Wildcats' loss to TCU two weeks ago, backup Will Howard has been pressed into action, and his emergence has completely changed the math for this offense. After a strong showing against the Horned Frogs—225 yards on 20 passes, with two touchdowns and an interception—Howard tore apart Oklahoma State's suspect secondary last week, throwing for 296 yards and four touchdowns on 26 passes.

Vaughn, who had a marvelous 158-yard game on 22 carries, was key to the Wildcats' stunning blowout as well. But the way Kansas State pulled off their most impressive victory of 2022 was a drastic departure from the first half of the season. In their first six games, they averaged 43 rushes and only 24 passes per game, rushing at least 15 more times than they passed in five of those six games. Largely due to the need to overcome deficits, they only ran 11 and seven more times than they passed in the Tulane and TCU losses. But against Oklahoma State, the Wildcats passed as many times as they ran (37 plays of each) and scored four touchdowns through the air—two-thirds of their previous season total—in the first half alone.

Howard's presence under center has rewritten the threats this offense can pose. In just over a third of Martinez's dropbacks, he already has twice as many 20-yard completions and has engineered the Wildcats' highest scoring total in a game since October 2020. Along with Vaughn, tied for the Big 12 lead in 15-yard runs, this team suddenly has the ability to be one of the most explosive, dangerous offenses in FBS. Whether Martinez will return this week (and whether he'll still be the starter) remains unclear, but Texas has to be prepared for a true downfield threat that Kansas State has only recently tapped into.

While the Longhorns have been excellent up front against the run game, allowing a 34.0% rushing success rate (seventh in FBS) and 9.2% explosiveness rate (20th), their pass defense has been somewhat more concerning. Texas has given up a 64.7% completion rate, 108th in the nation, and while their 41.2% passing success rate allowed is better (67th), it's still a glaring weakness on an otherwise solid defense. But what this secondary does excel at is limiting big passing plays: the seven defenders with over 200 snaps in coverage have allowed an average of just 4.5 yards after catch per reception. Every player in that group has a missed-tackle rate of over 10%, but they have combined to create a swarming coverage unit which is more than the sum of its parts. If Howard plays on Saturday, the Longhorns' secondary will have one of their toughest assignments this season, but this talented group might be capable of keeping him in check.

Watch for:

  • Can Texas' strong run defense stand up to the explosive Vaughn—and potentially handle much higher volume than they're used to (19th-lowest rush rate faced among FBS defenses)?
  • Will the Longhorns' struggles on passing downs (67th in success rate) prove decisive against a Wildcats defense that excels in getting off the field (14th in success rate)?
  • Can Quinn Ewers bounce back from his three-interception performance against Oklahoma State and go blow-to-blow with Kansas State's passing attack?

FEI Outright Pick: Texas by 3.8.

Alabama Crimson Tide (-13.5) at LSU Tigers—7 p.m. (ESPN)

Overall Alabama LSU
2022 F+ 3 13
When Alabama has the ball Offense Defense
2022 F+ 7 18
2022 EPA/pass 24 49
2022 EPA/rush 51 68
When LSU has the ball Defense Offense
2022 F+ 4 17
2022 EPA/pass 14 21
2022 EPA/rush 22 15

If there's one game that could propel the excitement of the 2022 college football season to historic levels—not quite up there with 2007, but still a momentous year for parity and drama—it's this one. An LSU upset would guarantee one of three things: a playoff with no SEC West representative, a playoff with a multi-loss team, or a playoff with Ole Miss. Only once, in 2017, have any of those possibilities ever come close to happening. If the Tigers pull off the win, it would throw the SEC's already muddled postseason picture into chaos and ensure the making of history down the line.

But that's a big if, considering how dominant Alabama has been in this division (winning it in seven of the last 10 seasons) and against LSU in particular (beating them in 10 of the last 11 meetings). It's not impossible, given how vulnerable the Crimson Tide has looked ever since its turnover-heavy 2020-2021 offseason, but it's obviously never easy to unseat Nick Saban. There's a reason the only team to do it this year currently sits at No. 1 in the CFP rankings—and boat-raced LSU 40-13 in Baton Rouge. The transitive property doesn't seem to suggest that the Tigers are on Alabama's level, even when that standard has dipped recently.

Then again, this is college football: major upsets are bound to happen, even to Saban every once in a great while. And while LSU looked outmatched when Tennessee came to town, they have since asserted themselves with two impressive wins, outlasting Florida 45-35 in the Swamp and blowing out highly ranked Ole Miss 45-20 at home. Considering the Tigers demolished No. 7 last time out, perhaps it's not so unthinkable that they could defeat No. 6 on home turf as well.

The path to an LSU win starts with the nagging issue that has plagued Alabama throughout their last two years of uncharacteristic inconsistency: the offensive line. The Tide won the Joe Moore Award as recently as 2020, but the unit was heavily overhauled after that season with the loss of numerous key pieces on the left side. It has struggled to recover since, giving up heavy pressure on quarterback Bryce Young and failing to gain rushing yardage up front. Alabama has succeeded in spite of it—having Heisman Trophy contenders at quarterback and running back covers a multitude of sins—but it's a liability that has been a potential factor all season. It nearly cost the Tide against Texas A&M, which sacked backup Jalen Milroe four times and recovered three fumbles, but they were able to survive by one play. A better team than the Aggies, such as these Tigers, could certainly take advantage of that glaring weakness.

To that end, BJ Ojulari is the player to watch in LSU's pass rush. The team leader with five tackles for loss and four sacks, Ojulari is one of the most prolific defensive edges in the SEC, ranking third in the conference with 31 pressures despite playing just six games. Alabama will likely look to limit him with JC Latham, who has allowed just two pressures in 316 pass-blocking snaps and was the only lineman not to allow a pressure against Texas A&M. That leaves Tyler Steen, a redshirt senior who started 2022 strong but allowed four pressures against Tennessee, with the critical role of holding off Harold Perkins when LSU blitzes. Despite having only 64 pass-rushing snaps this season, Perkins has racked up 20 pressures, a 19.7% pressure rate that leads all SEC players with at least 50 snaps in the pass rush.

The Tigers should be able to move the ball effectively on offense thanks to an extremely deep run game: five players have at least 30 carries, quarterback Jayden Daniels (leading the team with 524 yards and nine touchdowns) foremost among them. The passing attack may not be as potent, especially against a secondary that has shut down almost everyone, but as long as the defense holds up its end of the bargain, LSU can score enough to keep this game within reach. Whether they can punish the Tide's offensive line, though, will likely determine whether Alabama can escape with another narrow win.

Watch for:

  • Can Alabama (10th in offensive and third in defensive explosive play rate) use big plays to overmatch LSU (65th in offensive and 68th in defensive explosive play rate)?
  • Will the Tigers' defensive front, 46th in line yards per carry allowed, be able to keep Jahmyr Gibbs in check and limit his opportunities for long runs?
  • With success rate proving a minor concern for Alabama's defense, can LSU (10th in success rate) piece together long drives to slow down the tempo?

FEI Outright Pick: Alabama by 13.1.

FEI Picks: Week 10

Favorite Spread Underdog FEI Pick FEI
Pick ATS
Pick ATS
at Washington -4.5 Oregon State Washington Oregon State Oregon State
at Wisconsin -4.5 Maryland Wisconsin Maryland Wisconsin
at Georgia -8.5 Tennessee Georgia Tennessee Tennessee
Clemson -3.5 at Notre Dame Clemson Notre Dame Clemson
Texas -2.5 at Kansas State Texas Texas Kansas State
Alabama -13.5 at LSU Alabama LSU LSU

FEI's picks ATS last week: 3-3.

FEI's picks ATS in 2022: 17-34-1.

Preston's picks ATS last week: 2-4.

Preston's picks ATS in 2022: 27-26-1.


1 comment, Last at 05 Nov 2022, 10:53pm

#1 by ImNewAroundThe… // Nov 05, 2022 - 10:51pm

but Tennessee shouldn't have been above UGA and Clemson and Bama ahead of TCU.

Boo Brian Kelly kneeling into OT. 

Points: 0

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