Everything Is On The Line This Week
College Football week 13 presents intriguing matchups in the Sunshine State, with so much to play for.
Florida State is looking to keep their 36 consecutive bowl game streak alive. Florida is looking to reach a New Year’s Six bowl.
Miami wants revenge against Pitt, who sent them on their current downward spiral as the Canes lost to Pitt while ranked No. 2 in the nation last season.
The FIU Panthers are looking for their best record in program history if they can notch their ninth win.
FAU needs to win to become bowl eligible after winning ten games last season.
And the War on I-4 features USF and UCF as the two rivals go toe to toe as USF want to end UCF’s 23-game win streak, while UCF looks to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.
The Knights breached the CFP”s top ten as the new ranking were revealed last night. No. 9 UCF is the only Group of Five program ranked in the top ten in the regular season. Their playoff chances are slim, but chaos will occur, the question is how much?
UCF needs all the help, but getting the help is very realistic. Starting Friday night, the need Washington to be No. 8 Washington State, and West Virginia has to beat No. 6 Oklahoma. On Saturday Ohio State must beat No. 4 Michigan, and Texas A&M beating LSU may not be necessary, but it helps. It’s a lot, but all of those entities can happen. If it does, that should allow UCF to rise to No. 5 with Georgia ahead of them, UGA has a date with No. 1 Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Chaos folks.
No. 9 UCF at USF | 4:15pm on ESPN | Line: UCF -14
Last year’s War on I-4 was an instant classic that saw over 1100 yards of offense, and 91 points. UCF ultimately prevailed due to turnovers, and 10 penalties by USF.
This year’s version of USF-UCF is much more lopsided on paper, but that’s why you play the games. USF is looking to end their five four-game losing streak after starting 7-0. Nothing would be better then to end their streak by ending UCF’s 23-game win streak, and chance to reach the CFP.
There will be tons of offense as Saturday’s matchup features the 6th-ranked offense (UCF 528.9 YPG), and the 27-ranked offense (USF 456.5 YPG). Both teams have balance as each team averages over 200 yards rushing and passing. UCF has the edge in scoring as they score almost 13 more points per contest.
Defensively, it’s another story. Both squads give up over 419 yards per game, and both teams allow 200 yards passing, and 200 yards rushing. UCF has the clear edge in scoring defense as they yield 10 less points per game.
The key for UCF is to stay true to themselves. No need to go outside the game plan or try trick plays. The Knights are a better team, with a better coach, and they’re more physical. They’ve only played three games away from Spectrum Stadium. Saturday’s game will have over 50,000 fans, the largest crowd this season.
As for the Bulls, they have a punchers chance to do UCF’s defense. The Knights only posses the ball for 25 minutes per game. USF has the rushing attack to keep UCF offense off the field. Expect a run-heavy game plan for USF, but they must get touchdowns instead of field goals in the red zone. Also, the Bulls must key on McKenzie Milton when the Knights reach the red zone. Milton is deadly with his running ability when they get close to the end zone.
Prediction UCF 54 – USF 48
No. 11 Florida at Florida State | 12pm on ABC | Line: Florida -7
Two teams on two totally different trajectories coming into the last week of the season. Florida has doubled their win total from last season, with a chance to reach a NY6 bowl game. FSU has not met expectations in Willie Taggart’s first season after Jimbo Fisher’s departure to Texas A&M.
Florida State’s has not been kind in 2018 as they prepare for their 7th ranked team. However, they have a chance to reach six wins en route to their 37th-straight bowl game.
Florida has the edge offensively, and defensively as they score more points, put up more yards; yield less points, and yield less yards than FSU. However, Gators’ quarterback Feleipe Franks has been up and down this season even though he’s improved over last season. The Gators will see the most hostile environment they’ve seen all season as FSU fans try to will their team to a victory.
The key for Florida is to take advantage of FSU’s 117th-ranked pass defense (270 YPG). A great matchup to get Franks going. On defense, the Gators must slow down FSU’s passing attack as the Noles 127th-ranked (86.7 YPG) rushing attack will not be a factor.
The key for FSU is to attempt to run the ball early to help out Francios, but if isn’t happening they must move on and focus on their strength. It’s tough attack Florida’s offense due to their balance. The Noles must stop the Gator’s rushing attack, and force Franks to throw as often as possible, especially on third and long.
Prediction: FSU 31 – Florida 30
No. 24 Pittsburgh at Miami | 3:30 on ESPN | Line: Miami -4.5
UCF will be rooting for Pitt on Saturday as they take on the Hurricanes. UCF trounced Pitt earlier at home, 42-14. It would help UCF strength of schedule quite of bit if chaos happens.
Miami was No. 2 in the nation after starting 10-0. Pitt upset Miami, and the Canes are 6-7 since their meeting. Pitt has already won the ACC Coastal, and have a date with No. 2 Clemson in the ACC Championship Game. Miami just wants to finish the season with a winning record, and win on senior day at home as they’ve underachieved in 2018.
Pitt brings their 14th-ranked (247.5 YPG) rushing attack to Hard Rock Stadium. They’ll look to run into the teeth of Miami’s third-ranked defense (274.5 YPG).
Stopping Pitt’s ground game will be a task all in itself. However, the Canes lead the nation in tackles for loss with 112 on the season. Miami will look to get the Panthers in obvious passing situations, and take advantage of Pitt’s 118th-ranked passing attack.
The Canes finally got a win after losing four straight. Miami will look to get after Pitt’s 84th-ranked pass defense (241.4 YPG), and they’ll use their run game to set it up as the Panthers allow 163.5 yards per game on the ground.
Prediction: Miami 28 – Pitt 27
Marshall at FIU | 12pm on STADIUM | Line: Marshall -3
FIU stayed in control of its own destiny by escaping Charlotte with a 42-35 victory over the 49ers. James Morgan threw for 286 yards and two touchdowns with Napoleon Maxwell adding 102 yards and two touchdowns of his own to balance the Panthers’ offensive attack.
Marshall enters Saturday’s game with a 7-3 record and 5-2 mark in C-USA play. The Herd has won their last two games, with victories over Charlotte and UTSA. The last loss for Marshall came to Southern Miss.
Look for Marshall to use its fourth-ranked (91.5 YPG) run defense to slow down FIU’s offense. Marshall’s secondary is questionable, as Morgan can light it up at moment’s notice.
Prediction FIU 27 – Marshall 23
Charlotte at FAU | 6pm | Line: FAU -17.5