Week 10 of the 2022 college football season has arrived and so has our weekly look at Anxiety Games across the country. For those new here, we’re keeping tabs on games where a bad outing could pivot things into a negative direction for the program. And with a handful of coaching staffs feeling some heat at the start of November, these matchups matter even more.
There’s plenty to dive into for this week’s slate. Let’s take a look.
Florida at Texas A&M, noon ET, ESPN
As we open the month of November, we have two SEC programs who could very well miss a bowl game if their respective seasons continues to spiral.
In one corner, you have a Texas A&M team that has dropped four straight games heading into this showdown. A&M’s offensive struggles have been well documented all season long and an injury to starting quarterback Haynes King finally forced head coach Jimbo Fisher to start five-star true freshman Conner Weigman last week. Fisher’s astronomical contract has protected him from the prospect of being let go after the season. However, a fifth straight loss would have Aggie fans/boosters monitoring the price of oil throughout the month of November.
In the other corner, you have a Florida team that stands at .500 under first-year head coach Billy Napier heading into the final month of the season. The Gators showed some fight against Georgia in Jacksonville last week, but got a full illustration of how far they’re away from the Dawgs in a 42-20 loss. Napier is taking the long road in rebuilding the program in Gainesville, FL, and the results will come down the road. But no matter how you slice it, a fifth loss in conference play wouldn’t feel good for UF fans on Saturday.
USF at Temple, 2 p.m. ET, ESPN+
Whether you want to blame injuries or not, this season has been a disaster for USF and head coach Jeff Scott. A road loss to Houston last Saturday dropped the Bulls to 1-7, eliminating them from bowl contention for a fourth straight season. Scott is now an abysmal 1-25 against FBS opponents in his three seasons in Tampa and the fan base have ran out of patience.
That one FBS victory came last year against Temple, the only other program in the AAC that has been just as bad, if not worse than the Bulls in recent years. The USF administration not making an in-season firing yet suggests that they still want to keep Scott around. A road loss at Temple may force their hands to make a move.
West Virginia at Iowa State, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+
This year’s ‘Riot Bowl’ is a battle for last place in the Big 12 as both teams have had underwhelming seasons.
West Virginia has dropped three of its last four contests and the calls for the firing of head coach Neal Brown has only grown louder among fans as the season has moved along. The team put a slight scare into TCU last week before ultimately falling 41-31. Meanwhile, Iowa State has taken a huge step back this year with the likes of Breece Hall and Brock Purdy now in the NFL. The Cyclones are winless in Big 12 play and every loss has come within two scores. A loss to a struggling WVU team here would effectively doom any hope of them reaching bowl eligibility.
UCF at Memphis, 3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
UCF ended a three-game losing streak against Cincinnati with a 25-21 victory last Saturday, giving the Knights a leg up on the Bearcats in the AAC title race. With a potential top 25 showdown at Tulane looming next week, Gus Malzahn’s crew can’t afford to get caught looking ahead by losing to Memphis on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Memphis has dropped three straight games heading into this matchup and its season is on the verge of total collapse. The Tigers have taken a step back from the AAC’s elite over the last few years and it seems like there’s a diminishing returns effect happening from the Justin Fuente/Mike Norvell era. A loss here and the program’s leaders may very well take a serious look at head coach Ryan Silverfield’s future with the program.
Florida State at Miami, 7:30 p.m. ET, ABC
This once great rivalry has lacked the juice with both programs experiencing various levels of struggles in recent years. While the FSU staff is certainly feeling some pressure to topple its rival and become bowl eligible at the same time, the anxiety here is on the Miami sidelines.
Year one of the Mario Cristobal era has been underwhelming, even if you didn’t totally buy into the preseason hype. The offense has been mediocre and it needed four overtimes to drop 14 points against a bad Virginia team last week. A big rivalry victory over Florida State here could be a tremendous momentum boost for Cristobal and company while a loss would effectively take any air remaining out of the season. At that point, they might as well auto-sim to 2023.