Misery loves company. Or, more accurately, I should say misery loves miserable company. That motto has rung true this past week as it truly seems like a race to the bottom for what was once the upper echelon of the state of Florida’s college football programs.
For only the fifth time in 43 seasons, the big three of the state’s college football teams - Miami, Florida, and Florida State - all lost on the same day. On the eve the tripartite deficit, one of the state’s rising programs, UCF, dropped a 42-35 shootout to a middling Louisville team. Overall, the state of the state of Florida football teams appears to be in danger - besides the Gators, who played a tight game against the nation’s best. This is a drastic drop-off from prior years, and even earlier this year, where there was ample optimism for Florida and Miami to duel it out in the top 15 range in the nation.
For just the fifth time in 43 seasons, Miami, Florida State and Florida all lost on the same day.— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) September 18, 2021
◻️ No. 24 Miami lost to Michigan State, 38-17
◻️ Florida State lost to Wake Forest, 35-14
◻️ No. 11 Florida lost to No. 1 Alabama, 31-29 pic.twitter.com/ofXdWBXwfZ
Below, is the current state of the state of Florida football Week Three rankings:
1: Florida Gators (2-1) (Previous: 1st)
Ranking: 11th (AP Top 25), 11th (USA Today Coaches Poll)
Week Three Result: 31-29 Loss to Alabama (#1)
Week Four Matchup: vs. Tennessee (-20.0)
Even without taking into account Miami’s soul-crushing defeat on Saturday, the Gators proved they are in a league of their own within the state with their play against the Crimson Tide on Saturday. The 31-29 loss in Gainesville could have easily gone similarly to the Canes’ season 44-13 season opener against Alabama, as the Gators entered the second quarter trailing 21-3. However, head coach Dan Mullen and company, similar to Tom Petty, would not back down. If not for a Gator missed extra point, dropped interception, or poorly executed two-point conversion that would have tied the game on Saturday, Florida may be ranked well within playoff striking distance today.
In 2020, Florida played Bama close on paper in the SEC Championship as they fell 52-46. However, Saturdays matchup felt much closer and it felt like the Gators proved that they not only can hang with playoff teams, but could very well belong in the conversation come bowl season. The Gators have a cupcake-schedule by SEC-standards up until they face-off with No. 2 Georgia on October 30th at the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Florida has the benefit of a bye week leading up to that game and could also get more repetitions from uber-athletic Redshirt Freshman QB, Anthony Richardson, who may be able to aid in late game big plays - he was scheduled not to play at all on Saturday unless starting QB, Emory Jones, got hurt.
Many Miami fans were hoping the Gators would continue to slide on Saturday after the rough first quarter, which immediately followed the Canes’ devastating loss to Michigan State.
No. 1 Alabama hold off No. 11 Florida in a thriller. pic.twitter.com/doXnemQERV— theScore (@theScore) September 18, 2021
2: UCF Knights (2-1) (Previous: 2nd)
Ranking: 46th (USA Today Coaches Poll - 6 points); 48th (The Athletic Power Rankings)
Week Three Result: 42-35 Loss to Louisville
Week Four Matchup: BYE WEEK
After losing RB, Isaiah Bowser, early in Friday night’s matchup against Louisville, the Cardinals QB, Malik Cunningham, rose to the occasion with both his arm and legs. The prognosis for Bowser appears to be week-to-week but the Knights suffered a bigger blow as their star QB, Dillon Gabriel, will likely be out for the season with a broken clavicle, which occurred on the final play of the game. The loss is tough as the junior had been a strong on-field leader for UCF. However, HC Guz Malzahn sees this as an opportunity to rally around true freshman QB, Mikey Keene, who has shown poise this season - albeit mostly in mop-up duty. The three-star recruit from Arizona has a winning mentality as he won 23-straight high school games en route to a state title.
3: Miami Hurricanes (1-2) (Previous: 3rd)
Ranking: 52nd (USA Today Coaches Poll - 1 Point); 37th (The Athletic Power Rankings)
Week Three Result: 38-17 Loss to Michigan State
Week Four Matchup: vs. Central Connecticut State University
Objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear as FAU and their QB/former Cane, N’Kosi Perry, look in line to potentially run the table. Miami, on the other hand, can’t appear to get out of their own way as they look to eradicate missed tackles, dropped passes, penalties, and turnovers by resetting in an easy matchup against Non-Major CCSU prior to their ACC slate. The biggest question mark before the ACC slate is whether QB, D’Eriq King, will be ready to roll, and whether the depth chart will be re-aligned based on early season play.
4: Florida Atlantic Owls (2-1) (Previous: 4th)
Ranking: 87th (The Athletic Power Rankings)
Week Three Result: 45-14 Win over Fordham
Week Four Matchup: @ Air Force (-4.5)
The tour continues for QB N’Kosi Perry who had another clean stat sheet throwing for 278 yards and two touchdowns against Fordham. Another great comeback story for the Owls is senior wide receiver turned tight end, John Mitchell, who was named a Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year nominee. Mitchell has become a favorite target of Perry’s as he has 11 receptions for 141 yards and two touchdowns. The path has not been easy as Mitchell suffered both an ACL and bilateral meniscus tear last September, which sat him out for the 2020 season (the second time he suffered a season-ending injury). The Tallahassee, Florida native hopes to become a doctor.
FAU is a slight underdog this week on the road against Air Force. They have tight matchups coming up this season against not only Air Force, but also UAB and Western Kentucky. They could play darkhorse in Conference-USA.
5: Florida State Seminoles (0-3) (Previous: 2nd)
Ranking: 89th (The Athletic Power Rankings)
Week Three Result: 35-14 Loss to Wake Forest
Week Four Matchup: vs. Louisville (+2.0)
The good news is that the nation’s number one 2022 recruit, cornerback, Travis Hunter, confirms he’s “staying committed.” The Noles better get him to sign as soon as possible, and could definitely use the twitchy athlete this season, if they had the choice.
The feel-good QB story, McKenzie Milton, is one that everyone is rooting for, so hopefully he can bounce back after a 119-yard, two interception performance against Wake. It looks like the Noles’ other QB, Jordan Travis, will be questionable against Louisville. The brightest spot for the Noles, beyond maintaining Hunter’s commitment for now, has been Georgia Transfer DE, Jermaine Johnson II, who is first in NCAA with 5.0 sacks, and tied-first with 7.0 tackles for loss. He could be a top tier edge defender in the 2022 NFL Draft.
6: Florida International Panthers (1-2) (Previous: 6th)
Ranking: 117th (The Athletic Power Rankings)
Week Three Result: 54-21 Loss to Texas Tech
Week Four Matchup: @ Central Michigan (+10.0)
FIU gets back into a more even slate of games after their 54-21 loss to Texas Tech, as they’ll face Central Michigan before an in-state matchup against FAU. NFL Prospect RB, D’Vonte Price, had an opportunity to flash his skills against a Power Five team, but only averaged 3.4 yards per carry (15 carries, 51 yards, and 1 TD).
.@FIUFootball RB D'Vonte Price (@Dre_izzle_24) plays today vs. Texas Tech. He's currently averaging 9.86 YPC with 61% of his yards after contact (h/t @PFF_College).— Eric Galko (@EricGalko) September 18, 2021
That's pretty good. Pretty, pretty, pretty good. #ShrineBowl pic.twitter.com/O7wUQWbMSY
7: South Florida Bulls (1-2) (Previous: 7th)
Ranking: 126th (The Athletic Power Rankings)
Week Three Result: 38-17 Win over Florida A&M
Week Four Matchup: @ BYU (#15)(+23.0)
For the first time since September 12, 2020, the Bulls found the win column as they beat FCS opponent, FAMU! It’s unlikely to be a streak as they face the nation’s 15th best team, BYU. USF recently lost former Cane CB, Christian Williams, who will likely be out of action for at least 4-5 more weeks.