As we settle into the halfway mark on the season an interesting crossroads has started to set in for each program. A few of the programs are off to a tremendous start to their seasons. With each victory brings a renewed set of focus though because as the wins pile up, the target on their backs get bigger. On the other hand, a few schools are starting to potentially see their focus wander due to mounting losses. Who’s keeping their focus steady for the second half of the season? Let’s get to it and find out.
USF, 6-0 (3-0)
The beat goes on in Tampa. Quinton Flowers and the offense again powered themselves to 33 points and their opposition simply couldn’t keep pace. The foe (victim?) this week was Cincinnati who traveled to Raymond James stadium and came away with a resounding defeat. Check out the highlights below:
Miami, 5-0, (3-0)
The Canes are three weeks into their conference play and have an unblemished record so far. Just like the week that preceded last, the Canes were in a dog fight until the end, this time against Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets got off to a fast start in the first half with their wishbone offense churning out almost 200 yards on the ground alone. In the second half though the Canes made adjustments, shut down the Yellow Jacket offense and pulled off the win in the last second with a short field goal. A few national pundits look at Miami’s record and scoff at their wins but make no mistake, GT is a quality opponent who will probably be in a high level bowl at the end of the year.
UCF, 5-0 (3-0)
With the way USF and UCF are playing, their opponents are essentially melding together when it comes to results on the field. USF had already played ECU earlier this season and promptly drummed them. Now it was UCF’s turn. McKenzie Milton and the UCF passing attack sliced and diced the Pirates and by halftime the score was already 41-14 in favor of the Knights. By the end of the contest the Knights had racked up a little over 590 yards of offense. A “good day” on offense is when a team can produce 450 or so yards. UCF is making 500 + yards a game look easy at this point.
Florida, 3-3 (3-2)
As well as the top three teams are playing this season, Florida and Florida State are looking like a distant third and fourth place team in the Sunshine Seven.
Florida took on Texas A&M at home last weekend and were winning or tied with TAMU the entire contest until literally the last minute when TAMU kicked a chip shot 32 yard field goal to take the lead with 58 seconds left to pull out the victory 19-17. As has become a broken record (almost the exact opposite of USF and UCF) Florida simply can’t score points or put up yardage on offense. Even though the rushing attack had a workman like day against the TAMU defense posting 242 yards and two rushing scores, Freshman starting quarterback Feleipe Franks posted a mind numbing 129 yards throwing and two interceptions and that was the tipping point in this game.
The Gators have a bye week so they’ll have extra time to prep for Georgia. They’ll probably need every minute of every day to get ready for the top 5 team in a few weeks.
FSU, 2-3 (2-2)
When watching Florida you can see that he offense seems to be really conservative and trying to protect the freshman quarterback as to negate mistakes that can hurt their stalwart defense. With FSU, honestly, it seems that the offensive line is their one constraint week after week. The talent is there on the defensive side of the ball and in the offensive backfield when it comes to the three headed monster of Jacques Patrick, Cam Akers and now Amir Rasul. The Achilles heel right now however is the fact that running lanes aren’t being paved and the passing game is not allowing enough time for freshman quarterback James Blackman to find an open receiver. I was watching the Duke game and I knew FSU would win, they had way too much talent for Duke. What I was concerned about for them though was the fact that Blackman is getting really thrown around in the backfield by defenders. There were a few times Blackman got up gingerly and limped down field after the ball advanced. If he goes out FSU will then be down to their third string quarterback..
FAU, 3-3 (2-0)
FAU had a bye week last weekend and are looking to keep the good times rolling next weekend against North Texas at home.
FIU, 4-2 (2-1)
It’s pretty hard to type this sentence but… FIU controlled this game for the entirety of the contest and came out victorious.. With a solid passing attack led by the ageless Alex McGough and a solid running game, FIU beat Tulane at home for yet another conference victory. FIU has this weekend off before they travel to a scuffling Marshall Thunder Herd.
We may live in a parallel universe this year where, potentially, USF, Miami, UCF, FAU and FIU get a bowl invitation and Florida and Florida State do not. It’s still only midway through the season but the dust is starting to settle on who’s going to “go bowling” and those teams scraping for a few late victories to make the fringe cut of 5-7 or 6-6. The schedule only gets tougher as the season turns from summer to fall in the Sunshine Seven.