All eyes are on one of the state’s biggest rivalry games this week as we officially transition into the final 1⁄3 of the college football season.
Florida State will host Miami on Saturday at 3:30pm in one of the state’s biggest rivalry games.
While both teams, like the majority of the state’s FBS programs, are struggling this season, that won’t change the passion and emotion that Saturday’s game will feature.
It will also have an impact on this poll as well. Miami and FSU have been going back and forth between the No.3 and No.4 spots behind UF and UCF these past few weeks.
The winner will have a firm grip on the No.3 spot this season and bragging rights for 2019.
#1. Florida Gators (7-1, No.6 in AP Poll)
Week 9 Result: Off
Next Game: Saturday 11/2, vs. Georgia, 3:30pm (in Jacksonville)
Line: UF +6.5
Where Things Stand: If Florida is going to win the SEC East, it essentially must beat Georgia this weekend. Winning this game would announce Florida’s presence back on the national stage and prove the Gators belong with the best of the best this season. The Gators get several key players back from injury Jabari Zuniga, Jonathan Greenard and Kadarius Toney are all expected back on Saturday for Florida.
#2. Central Florida Knights (6-2)
Week 9 Result: Central Florida 63, Temple 21.
Next Game: Saturday 11/2, vs. Houston, 12pm
Line: UCF -22
Week 9 Positives: The Knights got back to their dominant ways with a thumping of Temple in which they had 614 yards of total offense and only allowed the Owls to compile 266. Otis Anderson rushed for 205 yards and a touchdown and UCF rushed for 385 yards as a team.
Week 9 Negatives: UCF did turn the ball over once and have 68 yards in penalties. Not much else went wrong on Saturday for the Knights.
Where Things Stand: The win doesn’t change much in the grand scheme of things for UCF. The Knights still need two Cincinnati losses in AAC play to make the conference title and that still seems to be a long shot. But winning out and getting to 10-2 appears to be very realistic for the Knights if last week was any indication.
#3. Florida State Seminoles (4-4)
Week 9 Result: Florida State 35, Syracuse 17
Next Game: Saturday 11/2, vs. Miami, 3:30pm
Line: FSU -3.5
Week 9 Positives: Cam Akers ran wild for the Seminoles in this one as he rushed for 144 yards and four touchdowns. Alex Hornibrook started for FSU and was efficient and did not turn the ball over for the Seminoles.
Week 9 Negatives: Florida State continued its habit of not playing well in the fourth quarter as Syracuse outscored the Seminoles 14-0 in the game’s final 15 minutes. FSU finished the game with 76 penalty yards and kicker Parker Grothaus missed an extra point.
Where Things Stand: The Seminoles dominated an opponent they should have beaten easily in a tune-up game for Miami. Using Cam Akers at quarterback worked extremely well in this game and the Hurricanes will need to plan for that this week.
#4. Miami Hurricanes (4-4)
Week 9 Result: Miami 16, Pittsburgh 12
Next Game: Saturday 11/2, at Florida State, 3:30pm
Line: Miami +3.5
Week 9 Positives: Miami’s defense was stingy as it held Pittsburgh to just four field goals and forced three turnovers. KJ Osborn had 94 receiving yards and the game-winning touchdown catch with less than a minute to play.
Week 9 Negatives: Miami only managed 208 yards of total offense and was just 2-for-13 on third down conversions. N’Kosi Perry played poorly as he completed just over 40 percent of his passes and threw an interception.
Where Things Stand: Just when you think the Hurricanes are dead after a crippling loss to ACC bottom dweller Georgia Tech, they bounce back with a road victory in the league. That will certainly be a confidence booster heading into Tallahassee. As will getting DeeJay Dallas and Michael Pinckney back from injury and Jeff Thomas back from suspension.
#5. Florida Atlantic Owls (5-3)
Week 9 Result: Florida Atlantic 41, Old Dominion 3
Next Game: Saturday 11/2, at Western Kentucky, 4pm
Line: FAU +2.5
Week 9 Positives: The outcome was never in doubt as FAU led 14-0 after the first quarter and 24-3 at halftime. Quarterback Chris Robison did not play the second half because of injury but still passed for 208 yards and two touchdowns.
Week 9 Negatives: The Owls did turn the ball over twice and only converted 30 percent of their third down attempts. Everything else went pretty well last Saturday for FAU.
Where Things Stand: Robison told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that he believes he will play on Saturday against Western Kentucky. It still too early to call the race to the title game in Conference USA but losing to WKU would make things extremely difficult for FAU in that pursuit.
#6. South Florida Bulls (4-4)
Week 9 Result: South Florida 45, East Carolina 20
Next Game: Thursday 11/7, vs. Temple, 8pm
Week 9 Positives: It was a great game defensively for the Bulls as they did not allow ECU to score an offensive touchdown until the game’s final minute and forced two turnovers. Jordan Cronkrite rushed for 129 yards and two touchdowns for USF while Jahquez Evans rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown for the Bulls.
Week 9 Negatives: The Bulls let ECU take the opening kickoff back for a touchdown and trailed 7-0 just 15 seconds into the game. USF also had 124 yards in penalties.
Where Things Stand: Winning this game in dominant fashion was just what the doctor ordered for embattled Bulls coach Charlie Strong. It proves USF is not an AAC bottom dweller and gets the Bulls back to .500 in both AAC play and overall.
#7. Florida International Panthers (4-4)
Week 9 Result: Middle Tennessee State 50, Florida International 17
Next Game: Saturday 11/2, vs. Old Dominion, 12pm
Bovada Line: FIU -17
Week 9 Positives: Quarterback James Morgan passed for 208 yards and two touchdowns for FIU. Anthony Jones rushed for 87 yards for the Panthers.
Week 9 Negatives: I’m not sure a Florida FBS team has played a worse half of football all season than FIU played in the second half last week. The Panthers were outscored 36-0 after leading 17-14 at halftime, in a game they needed to help push them towards bowl eligibility. In total, FIU allowed three different Blue Raiders to rush for 130 yards and at least one touchdown apiece or more last Saturday.
Where Things Stand: The embarrassing second half effort drops FIU beneath USF and to last place in this poll. The Panthers will need to take care of business as a heavy favorite against Old Dominion and pull an upset over FAU, Miami or Marshall to become bowl eligible this season.