College Football Week Six In The Sunshine State Is Do Or Die For Florida’s Power Five Programs
Each week the race towards the College Football Playoff is heating up. In this week’s AP Poll, the UCF Knights moved up to #12, Miami dropped to #17 —after a blowout win–, and the Gators reentered the top 25 at #22. This time last year, the Knights were entering the poll at #25 and ended #12 after winning the AAC. The disrespect was real as the CFP Committee had five two-loss teams, and one three-loss team ahead of UCF.
UCF’s march on the CFP in 2018 has much more merit this time around as the Knights have a 13 spot jump on last year, and the nation’s longest win streak, 17.
This week is all about Florida’s Power Five schools due to UCF, USF, and FAU all being double-digit favorites. Miami, Florida, and Florida State enter week six with the same question — who’s for real, and who’s a fraud?
Florida has a chance to prove they belong with the SEC elite with number five LSU traveling to Gainesville, and a raucous Ben Griffin Stadium. The Gators are in the midst of playing three ranked teams in five weeks.
For the Noles, a loss means they fall to 3-3. Their 37th bowl appearance would be in jeopardy with four ranked teams left on their schedule (Clemson, Notre Dame, NC State, Florida). A win would be turnaround FSU’s season as a whole.
As for the Canes, they haven’t beat a quality opponent since beating third-ranked Notre Dame last year. Also, Miami is riding with redshirt freshmen quarterback N’Kosi Perry this time around; he watched Malik Rosier engineer a game-winning drive in Tallahassee last year.
LSU at Florida
- LSU and Florida will square off in top 25 showdown Saturday at Ben Griffin Stadium. Coming into 2018, LSU head coach Ed Orgeron had the hottest seat in college football. However, due to two top-ten wins over Miami and Auburn, Orgeron has the Tigers ranked number five in the nation.
- The Gators beat 22nd-ranked Mississippi State on the road last week as they’ve turned their season around after losing to Kentucky. Their loss to Kentucky looks better and better each week as the #13 Wildcats are shocking everyone with all their wins coming by double digits.
- A pair of evenly matched teams on paper, most notably on offense, the Tigers and Gators are reaping the benefits of improved quarterback play. Quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Feleipe Franks have been a breath of fresh air; however, the Gators have the edge in pass defense allowing just 140 yards through the air.
- Florida has struggled to run the ball against good defenses at times this year. They won’t find much running room Saturday as the Tigers yield just 103 yards per game on the ground.
- Prediction: The X-Factor will be Franks, who comes in with 12 touchdowns to Burrows’ six. Due to the lack of running room, Franks will have fit the ball in tight windows to move the offense. Gators 24 – Tigers 20
Florida State at Miami
- Miami and Florida State face off in their annual rivalry; this time at Hard Rock Stadium where the Canes are winners of 12 straight. The last two games between the Canes and Noles have been classics, and the last four have been decided by five points or less.
- Saturday’s matchup features the return of FSU quarterback, Deondre Francios, who missed last years game due to a torn ACL. Also, Perry will get his taste of the Miami-FSU rivalry.
- Francios comes to The Rock averaging 275 yards passing per game. Perry is only averaging about 147 yards per game thru the air, but his completion percentage of 66.7% is the reason Mark Richt has high hopes for the redshirt freshmen. Defensively, the Noles give up 284.4 yards per game thru the air, while Miami yields 138.8.
- The ground game will be vital in Saturday’s matchup. Miami and FSU have stout run defenses as both teams yield less than 107 yards per matchup. But Florida State’s rushing attack is nonexistent averaging just 97.4 yards per contest. Miami’s offense is more balanced as they rack up 213.4 yards per game on the ground.
- Prediction: This game shouldn’t be close — shouldn’t. Expect a few early jitters from Perry in his first big game, but Miami’s defense will take over by putting the Seminoles in obvious passing situations which is where they thrive. Miami 37 – FSU 23
SMU at UCF
- Despite having a nation-leading 17 game win streak, seventh-ranked scoring offense (48.8), third-ranked total offense (582.8), and win margin of 32 points; UCF head coach Josh Heupel wants more.
“We’re four games into who-and-what we’re going to be. We have a lot of room for growth and development. Good teams do that throughout the year. Teams that go win championships get better every single week.”
- Already ranked number 12 in the nation thus far, the Knights have a chance to reach the CFP. They’ll need help via losses to teams ahead of them due to the fact they don’t control their own destiny. However, they can control what they do on the field.
- The Knights welcome the Mustangs to the ‘Bounce House,’ a team that gives up 38 points, and over 405 yards per game. UCF need style points via big win margins, more than the 32 points per game they already win by. Why? Because that’s what a playoff team would do against UCF’s schedule.
- Prediction: UCF 63 – SMU 27
USF at UMASS
- Last time out, the USF was unimpressive as they needed a go-ahead punt return to seal a victory over ECU. The lone legitimate reason why they haven’t cracked the AP Poll.
- The Bulls are on the road this week at UMASS, as they get to face one of the worst defenses in college football. The Minutemen give up over 480 yards per game. However, the Bulls need to tighten up a few things within their own defense as they allow over 400 yards per game.
- 15 point favorites, the Bulls should handle the Minutemen pretty easily in Saturday’s matchup. Look for quarterback Blake Barnett to bounce back with a big game coming off their bye week.
- Prediction: USF 45 – UMASS 27
FAU vs. Old Dominion
- Reeling after two-straight losses, Saturday’s loss at MTSU stung a little more than UCF’s blowout due to their game-winning two-point conversion. Now 2-3 on the season, the Owls turn to the Old Dominion Monarchs to get out of their funk.
- Not many teams play worse defense than the Owls as they give up 459.2 yards per game. However, the Monarchs allow 509 yards per game, which bodes well Lane Kiffin’s high-powered offense.
- The Monarchs aren’t a very good team, but their lone win came vs. 13th-ranked Virginia Tech as they put up over 600 yards in that game. Due to FAU’s defensive situation, Old Dominion could very well put up similar numbers. Saturday’s matchup could reach 1000 yards of offense between both teams.
- Prediction: FAU 38 – Old Dominion 34