Week eight is usually a time of the season in college football where we find out who’s program is battling at the top of conference championship contention as well as those teams in the middle of our rankings starting to posture for bowl aspirations. Who’s got their sights set on high aspirations? Let’s check in on each of the Sunshine Seven.
USF, 7-0 (4-0)
If you were to have watched this game from the first quarter until about three minutes left in the third quarter, you saw a prototypical Bulls beat down. This time at the expense of the Tulane Green Wave. However, with a few minutes left in the third and then all of the fourth quarter, the Wave splashed back into contention in this contest and made the Bulls sweat out the last few minutes until the final gun went off. Per the time frame explained above, the Bull were winning at one point 34-7 but by the end of the game ran away with another road conference win, this time by the skin of their teeth in a 34-28 victory.
The Bulls throughout the season have been hitting on all cylinders when it comes to their offensive output but in this game they had to rely on their ground game to clinch the victory. For the game the Bulls rushed 52 times for 372 yards and three scores. Their leading rusher on the night was running back Darius Tice who toted the ball just 13 times for 141 and a score. Quinton Flowers was relatively quiet in the passing game with only about 150 yards throwing but he chipped in with 140 yards rushing to help stabilize the offense throughout the night. Check out the below highlights to see the scores:
Miami, 6-0, (4-0)
Miami had another conference opponent this weekend at Hard Rock Stadium and again pulled out yet another late game victory, this time at the expense of the Syracuse Orangemen. The Miami defense was exceptional for about three quarters of the game by bottling up both the passing game and the running game of the Orangemen but as the play count got higher and higher (almost one hundred plays by the end of the game?) the defense got more and more warn out and let a few big plays happen in the fourth quarter to keep the game interesting. The Cane offense was mostly effective besides a few drops in crucial situations but they’ll need to find ways to convert great field position into more scoring opportunities to put games away in the future if they want to keep their march towards a January bowl game or possibly, just maybe, the college football playoffs.
UCF, 6-0 (4-0)
The Knights came into this game averaging 50 points per game and had an average margin of victory of almost 34 points. Navy hadn’t lost at home in almost three season (17 games). Something had to give.
This contest was one of the better games of the weekend as both teams went back and forth throughout the game. Navy unfortunately was the first team to blink due to their starting quarterback, all world player, Zach Abey going out with a head injury and that you could argue was the deciding factor as his backup came in and had a fumble later in the game in which UCF converted later on into an offensive touchdown to put the Knights up by 10 over the Midshipmen. Frost and his 2017 team faced their first close ball game and came out on the winning end, we’ll have to see if the games start to get more competitive for UCF and if the results stay the same for the newly anointed top 25 team.
Florida, 3-3 (3-2)
The Gators had the week off from competition and brace for top 5 team Georgia for their annual rivalry game. McElwain and his Gators really need this win to keep their bowl hopes alive and to get some semblance of positive momentum going in the 2017 season.
FSU, 2-4 (2-3)
If the Gators are wandering the dessert looking for salvation in terms of a much needed conference victory, the Noles have already been encircled by predators in the same environment. After losing at home to Miami three weeks ago and then again last weekend to Louisville, the fan base is starting to turn on Head Coach Jimbo Fisher. The main soar point from what I gather is mainly with his position coaches, specifically the offensive line coach. In previous years the offensive line has been okay but the talent surrounding them was exceptional (Jameis Winston, Kelvin Benjamin, Dalvin Cook, etc.). Now that both the starting running back and quarterback are freshmen (Patrick went down with a knee injury last week) the offense looks to be an unmitigated disaster. Young players need time to process through a given play and find the open area. With the offensive line like a sieve, the Noles can’t execute and the fan base is growing frustrated. What potentially is inflaming the issue (as Canes fans can remember under Coach Al Golden) is the lack of Coach Fisher to accept the problem and simply state that the team is a “play or two away” from each victory. This, of course, enrages the fans and here we are…
FAU, 4-3 (3-0)
As the negative vibes seem to be reverberating out of Tallahassee and Gainesville, those tones can’t match the positivity that is exuding from the FAU Owls program in Boca Raton. Head Coach Lane Kiffin and his Owls are soaring high on a three game winning streak and their latest opponent, the North Texas Mean Green had zero chance in this one. By the end of the first half FAU was up 41-7 and didn’t have to look back. By the end of the game FAU racked up 804 total yards (wut…?) and scored 69 points (nice..).
The next two weeks will be telling for FAU as they play conference opponents Western Kentucky and Marshall, both have three conference wins which is tied with FAU and both are in FAU’s division. If FAU keeps the good times rolling or even splits the next two, they’ll be in good shape to potentially win the division in a few weeks. What is undeniable though is the results Lane Kiffin has gotten in his first year. Will a bigger coaching job come calling in two months? Will there be a “voluntary” homecoming? We’ll have to wait and find out…
FIU, 4-2 (2-1)
FIU had the week off and take on conference opponent Marshall this weekend up in West Virginia. Maybe Butch Davis and his opportunistic squad will help the Owls out. Maybe they are a threat for the division title in Conference USA. Things could get interesting as they also play FAU in a few weeks as well.
The Conference USA division race could actually be a pretty fun one to watch.
As a whole, this is probably the strongest the Sunshine Seven has been from top to bottom in a season. With FAU and FIU now becoming competitive in their conference, the bottom of the bracket is slowly lifting its way up to the other members of our grouping. We’ll just have to see over the next three weeks or so who can keep the good vibes going and who may succumb to a stumble here or there.