In Week Five of College Football in the Sunshine State, the competition looked more similar to a race to the bottom than the elite play we have come to expect from Florida’s programs. The state of the state’s play started with a heartbreaking 30-28 Miami loss to Virginia at Hard Rock Stadium. Next, on Saturday afternoon, UCF relinquished a big lead to Navy despite being a 15.5-point favorite, and lost 34-30. At the same time, FSU earned their first victory after eking by Syracuse at Doak Campbell Stadium. To cap it all off, the nation’s 10th-ranked Gators were the victim of costly penalties and red zone mistakes as they fell at Kentucky 20-13.
The state of Florida's four national title-winning programs are having a bad year:— RJ Young (@RJ_Young) October 3, 2021
Florida is 3-2.
Florida State is 1-4.
Miami is 2-3.
UCF is 2-2.
That's a combined record of 8-11 through Week 5.
While Florida remains the clearcut top team in the state, the bunching of Miami, UCF, FAU, and even FSU is much closer - and much lower - than many expected going into the 2021 season. Optimism is at a low for many of the state’s programs as expectations have been altered.
Florida, UCF, FSU and Miami and how one play can impact a season: https://t.co/fzau3BVHM2— The Beat of Sports (@thebeatofsports) October 4, 2021
Below is the current state of the state of Florida football Week Five rankings:
1: Florida Gators (3-2) (Previous: 1st)
Ranking: 20th (AP Top 25), 18th (USA Today Coaches Poll); 22nd (The Athletic Power Rankings); 21st (CBS Sports Power Rankings)
Week Five Result: 20-13 Loss to Kentucky
Week Six Matchup: vs. Vanderbilt (2-3) (-38.0)
In their quest for an SEC East title, the Gators faltered in Lexington against Kentucky. The lofty expectation is still there if they are able to pick up the pieces before the October 30th Georgia-Florida game and pull off the upset, but for now HC Dan Mullen’s season goals must be tempered. After Alabama and Georgia, who are not only the best in the SEC but arguably the top two in college football, the conference now has a slew of teams seeking the third slot. For Florida, they are still ranked in the top 20, and if FBS’s hard to predict play continues the Gators bounce back to form, they could capture a New Year’s Six Bowl.
In order to do so, they will need to perform better across the board, including less red-zone mistakes and limiting penalties.
IT HAPPENED!— ESPN (@espn) October 3, 2021
Kentucky upsets No. 10 Florida, beating the Gators at home for the first time since 1986. pic.twitter.com/HiZlAuYtqV
2: Miami Hurricanes (2-3) (Previous: 3rd)
Ranking: 50th (The Athletic Power Rankings); 71st (CBS Sports Power Rankings)
Week Five Result: 30-28 Loss to Virginia
Week Six Matchup: BYE WEEK
It’s hard to say the bye week came at an opportune time because there is just so much that needs to be fixed with this program. And, even though the Canes’ play to date leads a lot to be desired, Miami’s ranking as second in the state is really an example of sucking less than the rest of the state’s programs.
Despite starting the season within striking distance of the Gators, the U now finds themselves closer to UCF and FAU than Florida. Even more, the once highly anticipated trip to Chapel Hill to face UNC is now met with immense apprehension. Ideally, the Canes can fix things and get back into the mix in ACC play, but the pessimism increases by the week.
— Slow starts persist— Khobi Price (@khobi_price) October 1, 2021
— Defensive shortcomings
— Alumni frustrated.
10 things we learned from Miami Hurricanes’ 30-28 loss to Virginia in their ACC opener:https://t.co/SsA3LmGvcn
3: UCF Knights (2-2) (Previous: 2nd)
Ranking: 60th (The Athletic Power Rankings); 67th (CBS Sports Power Rankings)
Week Five Result: 34-30 Loss to Navy
Week Six Matchup: vs. East Carolina (3-2) (-10.5)
In contrast to the Canes recession, UCF’s is largely a by-product of costly injuries as the Knights lost their starting QB, Dillon Gabriel, due to a broken clavicle, as well as Northwestern transfer RB, Isaiah Bowser, and WR, Jaylon Robinson, who are week-to-week. True freshman QB, Mikey Keene, has been forced into play early in his career and looked pretty solid through three quarters in his first matchup against a winless Navy challenger. However, the Knights struggled in the fourth quarter as they relinquished as 13-point lead and surrendered two costly turnovers in the final ten minutes - the latter turnover being a pick in the final minute as UCF was driving towards Navy’s endzone.
Similar to the Canes, the Knights once highly anticipated mid-October matchup now has lowered expectations. UCF will need a monumental turnaround to hang in for the October 16th game against fifth-ranked Cincinnati. Thus, this season, the Knights will likely be focused on Keene’s development and hopefully a Bowser return to the backfield to add some spark.
NAVY PICKS OFF UCF IN THE ENDZONE TO SEAL THE GAMEpic.twitter.com/vsZ7lnc91Q— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 2, 2021
4: Florida Atlantic Owls (3-2) (Previous: 4th)
Ranking: 96th (The Athletic Power Rankings); 81st (CBS Sports Power Rankings)
Week Five Result: 58-21 Win over FIU
Week Six Matchup: @ UAB (3-2) (+5.0)
Although a 58-21 blowout win over a clearly inferior FIU opponent will not, and should not, result in crowning FAU, the performance should exude some confidence. Namely, former Miami QB, N’Kosi Perry, was nearly flawless as he went 18-for-21 for 329 yards and three scores - he also added a rushing TD, en route to being named Conference-USA Player of the week. Head Coach, Willie Taggart, may also be experiencing somewhat of a career resurrection as the Owls are within striking distance of a Conference-USA East title.
However, it must be noted the win over FIU was preceded by a blowout loss to Air Force and they are underdogs against on the road against UAB. Thus, the Owls may be a step or two away from taking another leap amongst FBS competition.
It was all about the Owls this weekend. Give it up for these two playmakers for earning spots as our week 5 C-USA Players of the Week — powered by @PaniniAmerica! ✊— The Draft Network (@TheDraftNetwork) October 4, 2021
⭐️ FAU QB N'Kosi Perry (@ko_live5)
⭐️ Rice DB George Nywakwol#FrontOffice33 | #WinningInParadise | #GoOwls pic.twitter.com/0JkQ7mzqhW
5: Florida State Seminoles (1-4) (Previous: 6th)
Ranking: 97th (The Athletic Power Rankings); 91st (CBS Sports Power Rankings)
Week Five Result: 33-30 Win over Syracuse
Week Six Matchup: @ UNC (3-2) (+17.5)
FSU pulled off their first victory after an underwhelming start to the season. Regardless, they barely escaped a mediocre Syracuse opponent 33-30 at Doak Campbell Stadium.
That being said, dual-threat QB, Jordan Travis, showed his prowess as he went 22-for-32 for 131 yards and two touchdowns, and also added 113 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns at nearly six yards a carry. The battle goes back uphill as the season progresses, besides a cupcake out-of-conference game against UMass.
6: South Florida Bulls (1-4) (Previous: 5th)
Ranking: 126th (The Athletic Power Rankings); 119th (CBS Sports Power Rankings)
Week Five Result: 41-17 Loss to SMU
Week Six Matchup: BYE WEEK
Against quality opponents, USF has played decent. Most recently last week, the Bulls lost by only one score against 15th ranked BYU. Despite losing to now-ranked SMU 41-17, they pulled within ten points going into the fourth quarter. Freshman QB, Timmy McClain, has built rapport with freshman WR, Jimmy Horn Jr., so there is promise for the future. In the SMU matchup, McClain through 14 completions for 223 yards, five of the completions going for 102 yards to Horn Jr.
Mangham for his 8th TD of the year! Great effort by McClain and Horn a few plays prior setting it up. pic.twitter.com/hOiOCNJJg8— USF Bullpen (@USF_Bullpen) October 2, 2021
7: Florida International Panthers (1-4) (Previous: 7th)
Ranking: 122nd (The Athletic Power Rankings); 124th (CBS Sports Power Rankings)
Week Five Result: 58-21 Loss to FAU
Week Six Matchup: @ Charlotte (3-2) (+3.5)
Since beating Miami 30-24 in 2019 at Marlins Park, the Panthers are 1-11 overall and 0-9 against Major/Mid-Major opponents. For this season, FIU appears to be underdog against every opponent besides Old Dominion. However, Charlotte is favored by only 3.5 this weekend so they may be able to pull off a slight upset and build momentum to get out of the FBS cellar.