Week Twelve Is Make It Or Break It For Most Programs In Florida
2018 hasn’t been kind to the Sunshine State in College Football. When the only undefeated program (No. 11 UCF) is outside of the top ten with two weeks left, with no shot at the CFP, there isn’t much to cheer for.
ESPN’s College Gameday makes its second trip to Florida this season; all eyes will be on Florida’s only undefeated program. As much as UCF and their fans want the recognition, exposure, and respect; this is the worst case scenario the Knights.
UCF has absolutely nothing to gain, and everything to lose.
If they win
- They still won’t be invited to the College Football Playoff, which is what UCF covets most.
- Their detractors will say they were supposed to win; the competition wasn’t great, join a real conference, and all the banter that comes with winning 23 games in a row against mostly G5 teams.
If they lose
- The whole country will see as the game will be on ABC in primetime.
- Already with the 119th strength of schedule, they’d lose to their toughest opponent yet, a 9-1 team not in the Power Five.
- Of course their win streak would come to an end, ultimately being mocked in light of such a great feat for this young program.
- More importantly, their chance at reaching a New Year’s Six bowl game dramatically decreases as they would not win the AAC. The NY6 bow game gives them a chance to beat another quality P5 team, extend their win streak into next season, and bring much-needed money to the UCF campus.
The CFP Committee is consistent with their disdain for G5 programs as none have cracked the top ten during the regular season. UCF checked in at No. 11 this week’s rankings as they rise one spot; Cincy checks in at No. 24.
Week 12 Matchups
No. 11 UCF vs. No 24 Cincinnati | 8pm on ABC | Line: UCF -7.5
Enough about the magnitude of this game, let’s get into this beautiful matchup. Saturday night presents the AAC version of an unstoppable force meeting an immovable object. The unstoppable force is UCF’s offense third-ranked offense that puts up 543 yards per game, and 44.2 points per game (8th). The immovable object is Cincy’s sixth-ranked defense, yielding 280 yards per game, and 14.9 points per game (7th).
The most significant facet of Saturday’s matchup will be the UCF’s fourth-ranked rushing attack vs. Cincy’s 11th-ranked run defense. The Knights may have the most balanced offense in the country which makes them extremely tough to defend, especially if they can run the ball at will. The Bearcats must make UCF one dimensional on offense, then scheme the other dimension. UCF has to stay true to itself with their balanced attack, keeping the Cincy defense guessing.
More importantly, Cincy averages 235.8 yards per game on the ground, while UCF yields 208.9 yards per game on the ground. The best chance the Bearcats have is to run the ball to keep the Knights offense off the field, keeping their defense fresh.
Prediction: Cincy 34 – UCF 31
No. 13 Florida vs. Idaho | 12pm on ESPNU | Line: Florida – 40
The Gators showed some fight on Saturday. After looking like they were headed for another regrettable defeat — a week after an embarrassing loss to Missouri — they put together their best finish of the season, scoring 21 unanswered points after being down 31-14 at one point. It’s an encouraging sign for Dan Mullen’s crew to get off the mat after digging itself such a significant hole. The running game was outstanding, compiling a season-high 367 yards, and even quarterback Feleipe Franks — who has taken his share of criticism of late — was solid down the stretch, leading the go-ahead drive in the fourth. All positive signs for this Florida squad, which needed some positivity in a big way.
Florida will make light work of Idaho as Florida State looms next week.
Prediction: Florida 52 – Idaho 10
Miami at Virginia Tech | 3:30 on ESPN | Line: Miami -5.5
Coming into 2018 Miami’s goal was to win the ACC, and get to the College Football Playoff. 11 weeks in, the Hurricanes are vying for bowl eligibility with five wins to date. Due to poor quarterback play, and even worse play calling of offense, Miami is in danger of missing the postseason completely with their next two games on the road. The Canes are 0-6 vs. their last seven P5 opponents away from Hard Rock Stadium.
In years past, Hokies-Canes would’ve been the destination for College Gameday, and their 8pm game on ABC. Maybe next year. The Hurricanes have a favorable matchup as the Hokies 105th-ranked defense yielding 447 yards per game. Miami will look to get their young quarterback, N’Kosi Perry going early and often vs. a suspect secondary.
Look for Miami to pound the rock with running backs DJ Dallas and Travis Homer to set up a few shots down the field with play action.
Prediction: Miami 27 – Virginia Tech: 20
USF at Temple | 12pm on ESPNN | Line: Temple -13.5
USF is eager to bust back into the win column Saturday in Philadelphia after another week of physical, spirited practices. In the midst of their first three-game skid since early in the 2015 season, the Bulls look to get back on track against Temple at Lincoln Financial Field.
Saturday’s noon matchup will feature USF’s 16th-ranked offense (475.5 ypg) lining up against Temple’s second-ranked defense in the conference (380.1 ypg). The Owls also are tied for second in the league with 19 total takeaways (10 interceptions) after forcing three turnovers last week in a 59-49 win at Houston.
After playing in the coldest kickoff in program history (28 degrees at Cincinnati), USF travels to Philadelphia, where forecasts call for sunny skies and a high of 48 degrees on Saturday. USF will be looking to improve to 14-4 away from Tampa in the past three seasons. The Bulls have won six of their last nine conference road games.
Prediction: Temple 37 – USF 27
Boston College vs. Florida State | 3:30pm on ESPN2 | Line: BC -1.5
Florida State has the longest bowl game streak in the history of college football, 36 games. After barely winning six games last year to become bowl eligible, the Noles are in the same scenario. However, this time around they’ll have to win the games in the confines of their schedule. FSU must win their next two games to get to a bowl game. Their both at home as it starts with Boston College this week.
The Seminoles on Saturday will face a Boston College team that has put together one of the best seasons in recent program history – 7-3, already tied for their most wins in nine years with two games to play – on the strength of its power running game. The Eagles average more than 203 yards per game on the ground, good for 39th nationally and fifth-best in the ACC, and in sophomore AJ Dillon have perhaps the league’s best running back.
Taggart hopes quarterback Deondre Francois is the one who gets them over the hump too. Taggart reiterated his support for the junior signal caller this week over backup James Blackman, saying, “Yes, (Deondre) is our quarterback.” This, despite the fact Francois struggled all night in a 42-13 blowout loss to No. 3 Notre Dame last week, while Blackman threw for 421 yards and four touchdowns two weeks ago against N.C. State.
Prediction: BC 28 – FSU 27
FIU at Charlotte | 2pm on ESPN3 | Line: FIU -6
FIU hits the road for the final time this regular season on Saturday, Nov. 17, as the Panthers travel to Charlotte seeking their program-tying eighth win of the season. FIU has moved the chains on third downs this season, converting 65-of-136 attempts to earn a 47.8% conversion rate. That total ranks first in the C-USA and 11th in the nation.
Charlotte is 4-6 on the year, while losing its last two games to Tennessee and Marshall. The 49ers only lost to the Volunteers 14-3 in Knoxville two weeks ago. The 49ers have been led by their defense this season, sporting the nation’s 14th best defense for yards allowed.
If FIU wins on Saturday, Nov. 17, it will be the earliest FIU has earned eight wins in program history. The eight wins will also match the program’s record total for a season, with eight coming in 2017 and 2011.
Prediction FIU 27 – Charlotte 21