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SS7 Week 12: Rivals Collide

Who in the Sunshine Seven will win their Rivalry Games?

NCAA Football: Florida State at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

How did the Sunshine Seven do around the state? Check out the updates below:

1) Florida State, 8-3, beat Syracuse 45-14

This contest was never really in doubt. Deandre Francois was able to battle through his shoulder injury to sling the pigskin around to the tune of 315 yards and two scores. Dalvin Cook chipped in on the effort with 225 yards on the ground and four scores to boot. This game in upstate New York was over by halftime at 21-7 but then FSU had another barrage of 21 points in the third quarter to put the game further out of reach. By the end of the fourth quarter backups were in on the offense and defense.

Up next for the Noles is a home tilt with instate rival Florida. You could argue, to the Nole senior class anyways, this could be the most important game of their playing careers. No FSU class through four years has ever swept the instate rivalry between themselves, Florida and Miami. Currently the senior class at FSU is 7-0 and looking for the perfect sweep if they can get it done Saturday night on ABC.

2) Florida, 8-2, beat LSU 16-10

The Gators have seemingly perfected the phrase “winning ugly” in 2016. Yet again the offense threw for less than 200 yards... wait... check that… they threw for less than 150 yards and were able to ground out the win against a strong yet offensively challenged LSU Tiger team. LSU dominated in time of possession, offensive yards gained and even first downs but lost where it mattered most: on the scoreboard and the turnover margin. Even though the game was relatively boring with only 26 total points scored, the ending was intense for both sides as LSU was turned away at the Florida goal line on fourth down to end the contest.

As noted above, the Gators travel to Tallahassee next weekend to see if they can keep their winning streak alive and possibly vault into the top 15 of the coach’s polls heading into Conference Championship Week where they’ll represent the SEC Eastern division and take on Alabama. Crazier things have happened this season. We’ll see how the next two weeks treat the Gators.

3) South Florida, 9-2, beat SMU 35-27

The Bulls continue to score week in and week out. It’s really just a matter of how they go about doing it. In this contest against a high volume, fast paced offensive opponent in SMU, USF decided to work primarily from their rushing attack and sprinkle in a few long bombs for touchdowns when the opportunities presented themselves. Two openings for scores happened on the first play of each half and the Bulls took advantage. The first was a 77 yard touchdown pass to open the game and then coming out of the halftime break Flowers heaved another score for 65 yards. The rest of the game was kept on the ground to try and slow up SMU which worked to mix reviews. In the end the Bulls got the victory so they have to be happy for that. With notching their ninth win the Bulls match their largest win total since 2007.

Heading into their final contest against UCF the Bulls have a few things on the line. First, they’re looking to crack the 10 win mark which would be huge for their program and a giant, sparkly feather in the cap for head Coach Willie Taggert. The Bulls are also looking to keep pace with the division leading Template Owls. Both teams sit at 6-1 in AAC play.

4) Miami, 7-4, beat NC State 27-13

The pendulum seems to be swinging in a positive direction for the Miami Hurricanes to finish the season off on a high note. The Canes beat the Wolfpack to increase the winning streak to three and have seemingly cleaned up many of the constraints that were present during the four game losing streak during October.

The offensive line is still very much a work in progress but it seems like Mark Richt has started to successfully game plan around what he has on hand by having tight ends and the running backs stay in to block on passing plays. Against the Wolfpack, Kaaya primarily used freshman phenom Ahmmon Richards and David Njoku to deal the damage through the passing attack and late in the contest Mark Walton busted through on the ground to finish off the victory.

On defense, the unit hasn’t been out maneuvered by an offensive philosophy yet this season. Coach Diaz’s philosophy of “pure havoc” has been readily accepted by the players on hand and next season with incoming players that fit the mold even more, Canes fans should be gitty for even more defensive success.

Even though it’s tantalizing to look ahead, the Canes have two more contests to worry about in the present. The first comes next Saturday afternoon against Duke. Even though the Blue Devils may have regressed this season (currently sitting at 4-7, 1-6 in conference) but they’re led by Coach David Cutcliffe who has out coached the previous Miami staff many times. Coach Richt and his staff have to be ready for anything on Senior Day.

5) Central Florida, 6-5, lost to Tulsa 35-20

Simply put, Tulsa bludgeoned UCF to victory via the ground game. The Golden Hurricane broke out in the third quarter to score 21 unanswered points but the biggest note to be taken away from this game was probably the fact that freshman quarterback McKenzie Milton struggled so woefully throughout. His passing accuracy was off all game and it seemed he could only complete passes that were ten or so yards down field. At points towards the end of the game the UCF fans actually started to boo as they wanted a QB change to relieve the reeling freshman. Coach Frost left Milton in and he kept on slinging the ball for a moribund 25-51 for just 255 yards.

UCF finishes out their season with a contest against USF. If Milton gets his mechanics right before Saturday this could be a high scoring affair and entertaining matchup. Records and overall talent can sometimes be thrown out the window when it comes to instate rivalry games.

6) Florida International, 4-7, beat Marshall 31-14

FIU probably wishes that the first month of the season could have been just exhibition like we see in the pro’s rather than games that actually count towards the end of season overall record count. FIU methodically beat Marshall in a game where FIU was up for most of the contest by seven points or more. Led by Maurice Alexander at QB (McGough was out due to injury) and a dominant ground game, the Golden Panthers clawed out a little over 500 yards of offense and four touchdowns. Newly hired head coach Butch Davis wasn’t spotted by the media at the game but you better believe he was most definitely watching the game to see what he could pick up on to work with in the future as he takes over the reins next season.

FIU closes out the season by traveling to Norfolk, Virginia to take on the upstart ODU Monarchs who are 8-3 and looking for a possible 10-win season with a bowl victory. They’d also have to beat FIU of course so we’ll see if those hopes are dashed next weekend in what could be a scrappy end of the season flurry by FIU.

7) Florida Atlantic, 3-8, lost to Old Dominion, 42-24

Any forward momentum that had been gained by FAU the previous few weeks was extinguished against a formidable and well coached ODU team last weekend. The Monarchs drummed the Owls to the tune of 600 yards on offense and five offensive touchdowns. If you look at it from the total yards perspective you may think this game wasn’t really close but the fact of the matter was that FAU was actually winning in this game into the last few minutes of the third quarter (became tied with five minutes left in the third). ODU out schemed FAU in the second half and literally ran away with the victory to the tune of a 29-3 second half outburst.

Next week FAU finishes off their season against Middle Tennessee State. In what will probably be another loss (MTSU is currently 7-4 and has an 86%-win probability per ESPN) the Owls will have to look themselves in the mirror and ask the question: is this good enough? Coach Charlie Partridge will be finishing his third season at the helm and his record has been consistent all three season: 3-9. Is that good enough in Boca Raton?

What do you think about the rankings? Should anyone be moved around? Post below!