It’s a real shame that these Sunshine Seven can’t have a conference all to their own to decide who truly the dominant program of the state is. Right now South Florida is the clear leader of the seven teams but I’m more interested in the middle of the pack and how they’d fair against each other. Most specifically I’m glaring at the stopping and starting Seminoles in this bunch. I really want to move them down a wrung or two on this list, which would seem sacrilegious based on their history in the Sunshine Seven ranks but they’re playing god awful compared to the others. Anyways, let’s get to it!
USF, 5-0 (2-0)
After last week’s Temple beat down I thought USF may have found an identity on defense.
USF is still running the score up on their opponents and if their counterparts can keep up with them then it will be a high scoring, interesting contest. However, through five games of this season no one has been able to keep pace with the Bulls and the offense has left the opposition in the dust. ECU was next on that list of teams who couldn’t match the Bulls and the results were the same. See the link below for the almost “arena football” type score in this one.
Miami, 3-0, (1-0)
If Miami’s offense was as consistently effective as USF’s then these two teams could go toe-to-toe lighting up the scoreboard. However, Miami’s offense seems to work in starts and stops over extended periods of time. Against Duke last weekend, Miami lit up the Blue Devils for 14 quick points to open up the game while Canes Quarterback Malik Rosier threw for almost 200 yards in the first quarter. With the “havoc” like play of the defense, the fact that the Canes offense went into a drought for much of the rest of the game didn’t seem to matter. Duke couldn’t get anything going the entirety of the game and Miami came home with the victory.
Florida, 3-1 (3-0)
The Gators took on the Commodores this weekend and came away with a victory and also clarity at their quarterback position. The freshman Feleipe Franks had been rotating with on-again-off again starter Luke Del Rio for the most part of the season but due to Del Rio getting body slammed early on in the contest, the offensive unit is now Franks’ the rest of the year. Del Rio on the hit was lost for the season with a broken collarbone.
Besides that early personnel loss for the Gators the rest of the game was a net gain. The Gators settled into their running game and scored not one but five touchdowns from the running back position. That’s a notable stat because Florida hadn’t scored a touchdown on the ground from their running backs in eight straight games (ESPN was harping that fact all game so I felt I had to note it here).
FSU, 1-2 (1-1)
It’s amazing what one or two players can do for a program. A few years ago the Gators had Tim Tebow and it could be argued that they were from 2000-2010 college football’s best program. Then FSU bubbled back up to the national spotlight with high level recruitment under coach Jimbo Fisher that specifically saw the Noles sign Jameis Winston and then later Dalvin Cook and it was their time to shine.
Now a year after Cook is gone and a few years removed from Winston, to be quite honest, the Noles are scraping for wins in 2017. They have great defensive talent that on occasion gets beat deep on coverage breakdowns and the offensive unit as a whole is hot, ineffective garbage. They just are.
Last weekend saw the Noles go toe-to-toe and win at the last moment against… Wake Forest. The Nole defense kept the Demon Deacon offense in check besides a few scoring drives but the Nole offense was dreadful. Freshman quarterback James Blackman wasn’t able to make passing plays until his last 6 attempts of the game when the results of the contest were in question. At one point I believe Blackman to end the first half was 5-7 for 7 yards. Most of the blame however doesn’t go to the freshman passer because that’s just what happens to a new player. The blame squarely sits with the woeful offensive line. After the game ended many of the national pundits were touting this group (“touting” probably isn’t the correct word) as one of the worst position groups in the country.
UCF, 3-0 (1-0)
It seems that USF and UCF are going to make a mockery of the American Athletic Conference this season in terms of scoring offense. Although UCF doesn’t score at the same rate as USF, not many do, their offense is still extremely potent. Against Memphis last weekend the Knight snapped the ball on offense 80 times, posted 603 yards of offense and scored 40 points.
Memphis did not score 40 points.
It’ll be hard for UCF and USF not to look ahead to their game against each other in the last week of the season (11/24) but that contest could very well decide the conference on who the regular season winner is and potentially who plays in the conference championship.
FAU, 2-3 (1-0)
FAU had a rough go of it when it came to starting off the first four weeks of the season but they opened up their conference play last weekend with a victory. Jason Driskel, now in his second week as the starting quarterback managed the aerial attack by not turning the ball over (one touchdown and zero interceptions). On the ground is where the Owls decimated the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. The Owls racked up 50 rushing attempts for 252 yards and 5 touchdowns. Lead running back Devin Singletary led the way with 133 yards and four touchdowns, he was also awarded C-USA offensive player of the week.
FIU, 3-1 (2-0)
Well, well, well, what do we have here? It may not be pretty but Butch Davis is off to a 2-0 start in conference play for the Golden Panthers. In last weekend’s contest FIU trailed the entire game until the last 7 minutes when their place kicker, Jose Borregales, again kicked a game winning field goal. The Panthers held on the rest of the way for the 30-29 victory over Charlotte. Statistics wise, there’s nothing too great to write home about. FIU passed for about 240 and rushed for about the same. Butch is wringing as many victories out of this squad as possible and to be frank, it’s pretty amazing to see.
The way I look at the SS7 right now is in three levels. The first level encases Miami and USF. Both teams are off to nice starts and looking to stay in the national media spotlight, potentially as top ten teams coming out of this weekend’s showings. FSU and Florida, to me anyways, seem to be teetering. FSU especially after their lack luster performance against a well-coached but under manned Wake Forest team. Then the bottom three are surprising and playing with house money it seems. UCF is swamping people and is off to an impressive start. FIU and FAU are in “year zero” situations with new coaching staffs. Any wins this season are seen as gravy as long as the performance of the current players progresses when looking ahead to the future.