The Back Nine of College Football in the Sunshine State Will Prove to be Much More Challenging Than the Front, It Starts with Week Eight
There won’t be many fireworks in college football week eight regarding good matchups. Five teams are in action; with four programs favored by double digits.
The Miami Hurricanes kept Florida from a clean sweep last week due to their pedestrian performance on the road at Virginia. As a result, the Canes dropped out of the AP Top 25 for the first time since Oct 16, 2016.
After a wild week of upsets in week seven, the UCF Knights hoped to inch closer toward the top of the AP Top 25. Four top-ten teams took losses last week; however, four teams jumped the Knights this week. UCF still sits at No. 10 as the meat of their schedule is ahead of them with two ranked opponents (No. 21 USF, No. 20 Cincinnati), and Houston who has the nation’s third-ranked scoring offense (48.7 pts/gm).
The biggest reason for UCF’s lack of movement was their near upset at Memphis. Due to the one-point victory, there was a major shakeup in Sports Talk Florida’s College Football Rankings. The No. 11 Florida Gators have assumed the top spot in Florida, overtaking the Knights. Click here for full rankings.
College Football Week Eight Matchups
Idle: Florida Gators, Miami Hurricanes
No. 10 UCF at East Carolina | 7pm on ESPN2 | Line: UCF -22
Does UCF have a legitimate shot at the College Football Playoff? Being ranked No. 10 going into week eight helps, opposed to being ranked No. 20 the same time last year. A few weeks ago CFP executive director, Bill Hancock, said there is a path to the playoff for the Knights. However, the highest UCF reached last year 12th going into the bowl games.
Almost losing to Memphis last week will hurt the Knights as unfair as it seems. Every team struggles with the grind of conference play. However, if the Knights want to secure an invite to the CFP, they need to win handedly going forward. UCF’s charge to the playoff starts in week eight at ECU.
The Knights should put the pirates away easily with bye week following, and a brutal November schedule. Look for UCF to lean on quarterback Mackenzie Milton in the passing game as the Pirates have an above average run defense allowing just 118.2 yards per game.
Prediction: UCF 45 – ECU 27
No. 21 USF vs. UCONN | 7pm on CBS Sports | Line: USF – 34
Off to their second-straight 6-0 start, the Bulls have looked unimpressive in the past three games after strong first three weeks — beating two Power Five teams. Their 25-24 comeback win over Tulsa provides the latest example. USF running back Jordan Cronkrite had another 100-yard performance due to no balance on offense. Meanwhile, the defense continues to struggle as they gave up 220 yards on the ground to Tulsa.
USF welcomes UCONN and the worst defense in college football to Raymond James Stadium on Homecoming. The Bulls will make light work of the Huskies who yield 658 yards per game, and 53.7 points per game. More importantly, the Bulls will have a chance to work on execution in the confines of a game. Quarterback Blake Barnett must play better in the early parts of the game instead of relying on being clutch in the fourth quarter.
Prediction: USF 55 – UCONN 17
Florida State vs. Wake Forest | 3:30 on ESPN2 | Line: FSU -10.5
The Florida State Seminoles had an eventful week off after losing to Miami in astonishing fashion. Hurricane Michael forced the program to adjust their schedules. The Hurricane destroyed defensive end Janarius Robinson’s home with family in Panama City, Florida. Oh, FSU offered Deion Sanders’ son, Shilo Sanders, a scholarship.
The Noles are back to business in week eight as they welcome an improved Wake Forest squad to Doak Campbell Stadium. The Demon Deacons can put up points (32.3 pts/gm) as they rack up 447.8 yards per game. However, Wake Forest hasn’t beaten a Power Five team this year. Also, it’s hard to think that FSU wasn’t peaking at Clemson and Notre Dame while watching Wake Forest on tape. The Noles have the Fighting Irish and Tigers on their schedule down the stretch.
Look for the Seminoles to fix their offensive woes against Wake’s defense that allows over 500 yards per contest. Most notably, their 126th-ranked rushing attack; the Demon Deacon’s give up 236.5 yards per game on the ground. Saturday’s game is very important to FSU’s 36 game bowl game streak. A loss almost certainly eliminates the Seminoles from going to a bowl due to their remaining schedule.
Prediction: FSU 38 – Wake 24
FIU vs. Rice | 7:30 on ESPN+ | Line: FIU -23.5
The FIU Panthers are quietly having a solid season. Quarterback James Morgan is the bright spot on the 4-2 season. Morgan is playing much better not having to look over his shoulder with 14 touchdowns, four interceptions, while completing 63.9 percent of his passes.
The Panthers will look to pounce on Rice’s offense which only puts up 331.7 yards per game resulting in six losses this season. Also, Rice gives up 39.1 points per game which bodes well for FIU. The Panthers are looking for their fifth win of the season as they look to represent C-USA East in the C-USA Championship Game.
Prediction: FIU 37 – Rice 17
FAU at Marshall | 2:30pm | Line: FAU -3
At 3-3 the FAU Owls are not off to the start they hoped for. However, FAU controls their destiny as they strive for another C-USA East title. Quarterback Chris Robinson has struggled at times with seven touchdowns, and six interceptions. But everyone knows the offense goes thru running back Devin Singletary. Singletary is off to a slow start by last year’s standards; his yards per carry is down 1.6 yards, and he’s about 200 yards off the pace of last year’s 1920-yard performance.
The Owls travel to John C. Edwards stadium to take on the Marshall Thundering Herd. Marshall is a solid team at 4-2 who’ll look to attack FAU’s 114th-ranked defense. FAU allows 467 yards per game with most of it coming via air allowing 277.7 yards per game. FAU does bring their 20th-ranked offense to John C Edwards Stadium, head coach Lane Kiffin’s specialty. Both defenses will have their hands full in a game that will see a lot of points.
Prediction: FAU 34 – Marshall 31