Conference play is in full motion for the Sunshine Seven. Who got a “W” and who went home with an “L?” Check out the breakdown below:
1) FSU, 5-2, victory over Wake Forest, 17-6
As I cautioned last week, FSU was on upset alert in week 7 due to the possible “look ahead game” against Wake. Although they did not lose, the offense didn’t play well in a sloppy win that saw the Noles commit four turnovers. Francois had a fine day through the air by passing for 319 yards and a score. Cook had a “below average” day while tallying “only” 115 yards on 25 carries. The major blight for Cook last week was that he had two crucial fumbles that resulted in FSU not putting distance between themselves and Wake.
FSU’s next opponent is the Atlantic Division leading Clemson Tigers. With the game being played at Doak Campbell Stadium and at night the Noles will have a chance to pull off the upset and possibly reopen the Division race between Clemson, Louisville and themselves. We’ll have to see Saturday night if the Noles can tame the Tigers.
2) Florida, 5-1, victory over Missouri, 40-14
It’s quite amazing that we’re seven weeks into the college football season and no pundits really know what to make of the Florida Gators. To this point, the Gators have played one team that you would define as a “quality opponent” in Tennessee and that was the team they inexplicably lost to with the implosion they had in the second half by giving up 20+ straight points. Their other opponents this season? Newly promoted UMASS who they beat in week one 24-7. Continuing on, they played a mediocre (currently 3-3 record) Kentucky team who they beat 45-7. In week three they played doormat University of North Texas and cruised to a 32-0 victory, North Texas’ current record is 3-3. Their next opponent was Tennessee who we discussed earlier. Their last two opponents were Vanderbilt and then last week Missouri. The point is, it’s hard to really know what we have here with the Gators until their mettle is truly tested again.
Maybe you can count the rivalry game with Georgia this weekend as a true test but we’ll have to see. UGA just lost to Vanderbilt at home so they’re scuttling a bit under first year coach Kirby Smart. Until proven otherwise, as long as the Gators keep winning they’ll keep rising in the polls. How long will that keep up? We’ll have to see.
3) USF, 6-1, victory over UCONN, 42-27
This game was a slow burn through the first three quarters, heading into the fourth the score was 21-17 USF. With the last 15 minutes counting down that’s when the fun began with a few long touchdown runs and one long TD through the air that resulted in a touchdown. Four of the five scores in the fourth quarter were by the Bulls and that proved (obviously) as the difference in this game. Quinton Flowers has to be the lead candidate for the All-Conference Quarterback in the AAC as he yet again totaled great splits both running and passing for a total of five touchdowns.
USF’s next game is Friday where they travel up to the city of brotherly love to take on a pesky Temple Owls. USF was on a collision course with Houston for the AAC Championship but with the Cougars’ loss to the Midshipmen a few weeks ago things may have changed in the other division. If USF takes care of business the rest of the way they may get some looks at a potential January bowl.
4) Miami, 4-2, lost to UNC, 20-13
For the second week in a row the Canes defense came up big in limiting a high powered offense. However, for the second week in a row the offense again came up short while trying to muster much of any production through the air and on the ground. Brad Kaaya and the passing attack has started to worry Canes Nation with many questioning if he’s possibly injured or if he’s out of sync in any other way as he yet again put up pedestrian numbers of 16-31 for 221 yards. As we all know, there were several drops mixed in with those throws but the numbers are the numbers..
The Canes will have to put last weekend’s doldrums behind them as they have a quick turn around and play the scrappy Virginia Tech Hokies at their home confines. Can the Canes defense keep up their stalwart play in the face of all the debilitating injuries? Will Kaaya get going and pace the offense the way we had hoped coming into the 2016 season? We’ll find out come Thursday night.
5) UCF, 3-3, lost to Temple, 26-25
“Ahh, UCF, now you’re starting to see how it feels” – Every FAU Football fan the last three years.
UCF was winning in this contest the entire game.. Until literally the last second. Freshman quarterback McKenzie Milton was basically the entire UCF offense in this game throwing for a modest 210 yards and two touchdowns. He also pitched in on the ground rushing for a 63 yard touchdown but that proved not to be enough as Temple forced a turnover on downs with 32 seconds left and then promptly went 70 yards in 31 seconds which capped off with a 8 yard TD pass. Temple squib kicked the insuing kickoff and that was it, Temple led at the time that mattered, the last second of the game and when the clock struck zero.
Next weekend UCF travels to the New England area to take on UCONN in the classic (classic?) rivalry game for the ConFLiCT trophy. We’ll have to see if Coach Frost can re-center his team after the heart wrenching loss suffered last weekend. The Knights still have bowl aspirations so pulling out a few more victories is a must. (watch the highlights the last 30 seconds are pretty crazy)
6) FIU, 3-3, victory over Charlotte, 27-26
Is this allowed to happen? FIU has won their third game in a row. Since they’ve fired their head coach Ron Turner, FIU has the same amount of wins as Ohio State and Alabama. Let that sink in.. In all seriousness though, they’re pulling out victories any way they can and good for them. The first two victories were by keeping the ball on the ground offensively and this weekend they passed the ball all over the field to take the lead with one minute left in the contest. Now, Charlotte isn’t a world beating team by any stretch of the imagination but it’s good to see the Golden Panthers getting a few victories under their belt during the 2016 season. It’ll be interesting to see what the Athletic Department does at the end of the year if the victories keep on coming. Do they stick with interim coach Ron Cooper or do they open the search up to others? We’ll have to see.
Up next for FIU is a home contest against pass happy Louisiana Tech. Louisiana Tech has also won their past three games as well so we’ll see who comes out ahead in this conference clash.
7) FAU, 1-6, lost to Marshall, 27-21
If games ended after the third quarter I think FAU and Charlie Partridge would have would have won at least five, if not six games the last two or three years. Unfortunately, this isn’t hockey and there are four quarters in football so FAU is where they are with yet again another fourth quarter loss, this time at the hands of Marshall. The quarterback position for the Owls is still unsettled as both Daniel Parr and Jason Driskell still share the duties, neither of which has established themselves the last few weeks so the rotation will still be used moving forward. The rushing attack was better this week as the Owls racked up 45 attempts for 281 yards and three touchdowns but it again wasn’t enough as the Thundering Herd scored the last 11 points (a field goal and a touchdown with a two-point conversion) to take home the victory.
Luckily the Owls get an off week to work out their offense and possibly make changes along the defensive front to slow down their future opponents. Their next game is in two weekends and they take on a formidable offense in Western Kentucky at home. Even though it’s Coach Partidge’s third season, one has to wonder if this could be his last.
Agree with the rankings? Post your thoughts below!