The Sunshine State Features a Few Intra-Squad Matchups in Week Four
Florida State and Hurricane Florence kept all Florida FBS programs from a clean sweep in week three.
Week four presents a unique opportunity for Group of Five Florida programs make statements (FIU, FAU), and Power Five teams needing answers (UF, FSU).
UCF moved up two spots to #16 in the AP Poll without playing a game; #21 Miami stayed the same after a 25-point win at Toledo. USF received 14 votes in the AP Poll; it’s only a matter of time before breach the top 25.
Sports Talk Florida’s ‘Florida Rankings’ have UCF on top, followed by Miami, and USF who’s tied for second.
#16 UCF vs. FAU
- The Knights put the nation’s longest winning streak (15) on the line after an unexpected bye due to Hurricane Florence. The Owls come to Orlando looking for an upset in a very hostile environment.
- As of Thursday, UCF is favored by 13.5 points with an over/under of 77; there will be fireworks regarding offense Friday night. UCF averages 609 yards on offense (2 games), while FAU racks up 469.3 yards per game (3 games). The Knight would probably yield a lower number had they played North Carolina on the road last week.
- UCF Wins If: The Knights just need to show up and be themselves. They’ll have the home crowd behind them, and two weeks to prepare to Lane Kiffin’s play calling. The top objective for UCF is to stop Owls’ running back Devin Singletary, who’s had a slow start to the season, but found the end zone five times last week.
- FAU Wins If: The Owls must tighten up their defense to have any chance of leaving Spectrum Stadium with a victory. The Knights already average 609 yards on offense, FAU gives up 451.7 yards on defense. Also, the Owls gave up 28 points to Bethune Cookman last week. If FAU can create two or more turnovers, they’ll have a puncher’s chance. UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton does have three interceptions in two games.
- Prediction: A lot is on the line Friday night, the winner of this matchup will have the inside track to an NY6 bowl game. UCF 51 – FAU 41
#21 Miami vs. FIU
- After four straight losses, the Hurricanes seem to be back on track after two wins against sub-par competition. Questions about quarterback Malik Rosier’s job security are dying down after his five-touchdown performance last week.
- FIU is the forgotten team in Miami. However, since the arrival of former Hurricanes’ head coach Butch Davis, the Panthers are much more formidable these days.
- Last time out, The Canes and Panthers suffered a bench-clearing melee resulted in the immediate ejections of 13 players — eight for FIU, five for Miami — and eventual suspensions of 31 from the two teams. Don’t expect the same extracurricular activates this time around.
- The Hurricanes seemingly have to show up, being a 26.5 point favorite. If FIU can stop Miami’s run game, get off the field on third down, and force a few turnovers, they will have a shot.
- Prediction: Miami 45 – FIU 27
USF vs. East Carolina:
Florida at Tennessee
- Florida – Tennessee used to mean something with legends such as Peyton Manning, Tim Tebow, and more. These days, the Gators and Vols hope to get a bowl bid, any bowl bid. Even though this rivalry is lacking in luster, Saturday’s matchup will be a great game as these evenly matched teams notch another one for the record books.
- In Florida’s loss to Kentucky, the Gators failed to run the ball effectively. Things won’t get any easier as the Vols give up just 112.7 yards on the ground. On the other side, Tennessee wants to run the ball first and foremost. Florida must force the Vols in to obvious passing situations.
- Gators’ quarterback, Feleipe Franks, seems to ‘fixed,’ throwing nine touchdowns in threes games after throwing nine touchdowns all of last season. If Tennessee’s run defense holds true, Franks will have to lead the Gators to victory, avoiding a 2-2 start to 2018.
- Prediction: Tennessee 23 – Florida 20
Florida State vs. Northern Illinois
- Reeling from their 30-7 loss at Syracuse, the Seminoles have the perfect matchup to salvage their season. The Noles can’t seem to get anything going on offense against FBS competition, averaging just 241 yards on offense, and 12.3 points per game.
- The Huskies give up 428.3 yards per game on defense, including 300 yards per game thru the air. Look for FSU Willie Taggart to get quarterback Deondre Francios going early and often to find a rhythm going forward.
- As for the defense, the Seminoles will look to impose their will on a Group of Five opponent who has no business being in this game. However, the line for Saturday’s matchup is FSU +10 due to the performance of FSU.
- Some believe Taggart should be fired, and some think that notion is absurd. The opinions of the latter will start to change if Florida State starts the season 1-3, with its only win coming from an FCS opponent —in which they almost lost–.
- Prediction: Florida State 31 – NIU 21