Five Florida Teams In Action This Week, All Five Are Favored: What To Watch
After a few offensive explosions last week, Florida teams prepare for college football week seven. All four teams in the AP Top 25 are on the road as they continue their march toward the College Football Playoff.
As Florida programs get into the meat of their schedule, it’s a grind each and every week. Conference games can be tricky, especially to teams with loftier goals. All four team from last year’s College Football Playoff had a loss in conference play. Coaches will preach focus, and execution going forward.
The UCF Knights topped our Florida Rankings again this week. However, three different teams received first-place votes. Click here for full rankings.
No. 10 UCF at Memphis
Memphis is by far the toughest test for UCF this season. A win Saturday would be UCF’s first win over a team with a winning record. The Knights bring their third-ranked offense (574 yds/gm) to Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. UCF quarterback, McKenzie Milton, will look to improve on his pedestrian performance from last week. After five-straight games of being double-digit favorites, UCF is just a 4.5 point favorite on the road.
The biggest contributing factor to the point spread is Tigers’ sixth-ranked offense (547 yds/gm). The Memphis offense is loaded with talent. Quarterback Brady White has 15 touchdowns with only one interception while completing nearly 70 percent of his passes. White loves to spread the ball around as ten different players have caught a touchdown pass. Running back Darrell Henderson leads the nation in rushing with 934 yards, adding 14 total touchdowns.
Prediction: Memphis wants the establish the run with their star running back. Consequently, it would keep the Knights’ high-powered offense off the field. The Knights have a bend but don’t break defense. They give up a lot of yards in between the 20-yard lines; then they tighten up in the red zone yielding field goals, and creating turnovers. The Knights give up 181.8 yards per game on the ground; if they cannot stop the run, it’ll be a heart-breaking day for UCF. Memphis 37 – UCF 34
No. 14 Florida at Vanderbilt
The Florida Gators have exceeded expectations over the past two weeks after losing to Kentucky in week two. After jumping eight spots in the latest AP Poll, the 14th-ranked Gators travel to Vanderbilt Stadium in their annual showdown. Gators’ quarterback Feleipe Franks has shown he can handle hostile road environments, leading Florida to back-to-back wins at Tennessee, and Mississippi State.
However, this isn’t your fathers’ Vanderbilt Commodores. The Commodores have been much improved under the leadership of head coach Derek Mason. It doesn’t show in the in the win-loss column, but Vanderbilt plays everyone tough, and they feature a few players that will play on Sunday in playmakers Ke’Shawn Vaughn, and Kalija Lipscomb. As seven-point favorites, the Gators remain focused coming off an emotional win, or they could find themselves in fourth-quarter battle.
Prediction: Florida is third nationally in passing efficiency defense (96.04 rating), eighth in scoring defense (14.8), and 19th in total defense (321 yds/gm). Vanderbilt puts up a lot of yards (398/game), but they don’t score enough to match it at just 25.2 points per game. Florida will look to establish the run game early, then take advantage of a Commodores’ pass defense that yields 233.3 yards per contest. Florida 27 – Vanderbilt 20
No. 16 Miami at Virginia
Last year the Virginia Cavaliers had the Miami Hurricanes on the ropes in the first quarter up 14-0. The Cavs took a 21-14 lead into halftime, then folded in the second half as the Canes scored 30-straight points. The stage is set again, as the Canes are coming off an emotional win over rival Florida State. Last year Miami had a prime-time victory over No. 3 Notre Dame prior to the Virginia game. This time around, Miami travels to Scott Stadium as they continue their pursuit of another ACC Coastal Championship.
The Cavs had two weeks to prepare for Saturday’s matchup due to their bye last week. Dual-threat quarterback Bryce Perkins will look to stress the Canes down the field, and with his legs. His favorite target is Olaminde Zaccheaus, with 501 yards on the season. Miami comes into Saturday’s matchup very confident in quarterback N’Kosi Perry after three clutch second-half touchdown passes last week.
Prediction: Both these teams put up over 400 yards of offense per game. However, Miami is much better at getting into the end zone with 41.5 points per game. The Cavs have to deal with Miami’s second-ranked defense (237 yds/gm), third-ranked pass defense (137.3 yds/gm), nation-leading 72 tackles for loss. Miami 27 – Virginia 17
For a third consecutive year, USF has made an appearance in the Top 25. The No. 23 Bulls get to showcase their brand to a national audience Friday night on ESPN. USF travels to Chapman Stadium as seven-point favorites against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Led by quarterback Blake Barnett, and running back Jordan Cronkrite, the Bulls are looking to improve to 6-0, and 2-0 in AAC play.
The number one priority for the Bulls Friday night is their defensive production. USF has the 98th-ranked defense, allowing 422.8 yards per game. And it’s a total team effort as they yield 210 yard per game thru the air, and 212.8 yards on the ground. The Bulls will look to take advantage of Tulsa’s weak passing attack, but if they can’t stop the run, this matchup will be closer than the Bulls want.
Prediction: Cronkrite will have room to run as Tulsa gives up 206.8 yards per game on the ground. That will set up the play action pass, leading to a productive day for Barnett. Friday’s defensive performance during this high-scoring game will be vital for USF’s confidence going forward. USF 34 – Tulsa 24
Middle Tennessee State at FIU
FIU is quietly having a solid year in the second year of head coach Butch Davis. The Panthers score 38.2 points per game while giving up 24.4 points per game. However, much like USF, the Panthers are struggling on defense giving up 410.8 yards per game.
On paper, it seems like the Panthers have a better team than MTSU. However, they’re only three-point favorites at home. Saturday’s matchup is tough to gauge as both teams are 3-2, with all four losses coming via double-digit losses to Power Five teams.
Prediction: Look for the Panthers to key on MTSU’s 118th-ranked rushing attack (118.2 yds/gm) putting them in obvious passing situations. However, the Blue Raider’s strength is their passing game averaging 258.2 yards per game. That could prove problematic for FIU as they only have nine sacks on the year. FIU 24 – MTSU 23