Week 10 of the 2023 college football season is a big one for the Pac-12. The most contested power conference race will gain some clarity with two key games: No. 5 Washington at No. 20 USC and No. 19 UCLA on the road against a scorching-hot Arizona squad.
The Huskies are the only undefeated team remaining in the Pac-12 and have serious College Football Playoff aspirations, backed by one of the best offenses in the nation. Meanwhile, USC has kept its head above water despite some lackluster defensive play and is well within shouting distance of the conference championship game. In fact, the winner here takes pole position as the regular season winds towards its conclusion.
Meanwhile, UCLA needs some breaks to fall its way but it still has a shot at getting to the Pac-12 Championship game. Arizona, sitting at 3-2 in conference play, is another way-outside contender. A loss for either team would virtually eliminate it from the race, while a win at least keeps hopes alive for another week.
Outside of their implications on a conference's outlook -- and even the College Football Playoff field -- those two games provide value to the discerning bettor. We went 4-1 in last week's value plays column, bringing the season record back to .500. This week provides a great opportunity to break into winning territory.
Michigan State vs. Nebraska
When: Saturday, Noon ET | Where: Spartan Stadium -- East Lansing, Michigan
Nebraska is quietly enjoying a fantastic season. First-year coach Matt Rhule has already hit Scott Frost's highest win total at five games -- a bar that Frost met once in his five years with the Huskers. Nebraska is currently 3-2 in conference play and well in the thick of a heated Big Ten West race. The Huskers have also beaten each of its last three Big Ten opponents by at least eight points -- all teams in much better shape than Michigan State.
The Spartans seem a bit checked out at this point. Who could blame them? Losing head coach Mel Tucker two weeks into the season due to sexual harassment allegations completely derailed the year. The Spartans have yet to win a game since Tucker's firing, and only one contest in that span came down to a single possession. Nebraska should get to bowl eligibility and cover a spread that currently sits at less than a touchdown. Prediction: Nebraska -3 (-110)
Virginia vs. Georgia Tech
When: Saturday, 2 p.m. ET | Where: Scott Stadium -- Charlottesville, Virginia
It's almost surprising that Georgia Tech isn't favored in this game. All due respect to Virginia; the Cavaliers are playing extremely hard under Tony Elliott, and the arrow is trending up for that program. They beat No. 10 North Carolina two weeks ago and then took Miami to the wire in Week 9 before eventually falling 29-26 in overtime. This is still the same Virginia team that went well over a month without a win against FBS competition.
Georgia Tech is trending up in its own right. The Yellow Jackets beat Miami after an improbable series of events on Oct. 7 and are fresh off their own win against North Carolina, improving coach Brent Key's record to 4-0 against ranked ACC teams. This game should actually be pretty close, but Georgia Tech is a smart bet to pull it out in the end. The money line provides more value than the spread, as well. Prediction: Georgia Tech ML (+108)
Mississippi State vs. Kentucky
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET | Where: Davis Wade Stadium -- Starkville, Mississippi
Despite ultimately losing, Kentucky's offense finally found its footing in Week 9 against Tennessee. Quarterback Devin Leary completed 28 of his 39 pass attempts for 372 yards and two touchdowns. The Wildcats' playmaking wide receivers were allowed to make plays: Dane Key had 113 yards and a touchdown and speedster Barion Brown mossed a defensive back for his first touchdown catch since Week 2. All this against a Tennessee defense that hadn't allowed 300 passing yards in a single game all year.
Now Kentucky gets to face a Mississippi State team that ranks 11th in the SEC in pass defense while allowing 238.5 yards through the air per game. Seems like the perfect opportunity to keep Leary's momentum rolling. Add in the fact that Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers is still dealing with an injury and may not play and this spread seems quite low in Kentucky's favor. Prediction: Kentucky -3.5 (-111)
No. 20 USC vs. No. 5 Washington
When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET | Where: LA Memorial Coliseum -- Los Angeles, California
It seems counterintuitive that the over on one of the highest point totals all year could be considered a value play but consider, for a moment, the forces at play here. In one corner we have a Washington offense, led by a Heisman Trophy contender in quarterback Michael Penix Jr., that ranks fifth nationally in total offense (501.3 yards per game) and ninth nationally with 40.4 points per game. In the other corner sits a USC defense that has given up 55 plays of 20-plus yards -- most, by far, among power conference teams -- and allows over 420 yards per game.
Now add in the fact that the Trojans are coached by offensive mastermind Lincoln Riley, with reigning Heisman winner Caleb Williams helming the offense. The Huskies and Trojans score a combined 86.3 points per game. Six out of USC's nine games have reached the 70-point threshold, while five of those exceeded 80 points. The over is 8-1 in USC games. Need I say more to justify this pick? Prediction: Over 76.5 (-110)
Arizona vs. No. 19 UCLA
When: Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET | Where: Arizona Stadium -- Tucson, Arizona
Arizona is a very good football team. The college football oddsmakers haven't caught onto that fact, despite the fact that Jedd Fisch's Wildcats just improved to 5-3 on the year with a win against No. 11 Oregon State. Arizona also lost to USC by two points in overtime and pushed No. 5 Washington to the brink before falling by a touchdown on Sept. 30. UCLA deserves to be ranked at No. 19 with a 6-2 record, but its body of work might be slightly worse than Arizona's at this point.
UCLA's only win against a ranked opponent came against then-No. 13 Washington State, a team that has lost three-straight games since -- including a sound 44-6 defeat against Arizona. The Bruins are 0-2 against currently ranked teams and their losses in such games came by an average of 9.5 points. All this to say, Arizona has a much better chance at outright winning this game than Vegas expects, and the Wildcats should -- at the very least -- keep it tight until the end. Prediction: Arizona +3 (-111)
Which college football picks can you make with confidence in Week 10, and which underdogs will win outright? Visit SportsLine to see which teams will win and cover the spread -- all from a proven computer model that has returned well over $2,000 in profit over the past seven-plus seasons -- and find out.