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Week two Saturday college football primer

Glenn Beil-USA TODAY Sports
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It’s a hot September Saturday in Florida and all five of the prominent state school teams will be hosting games this week.

For FSU, Miami and UCF, they have easy opponents and should win convincingly. For the Gators, it’s the SEC opener with a team that has been their slave for four decades (Kentucky) and USF plays the game with the most intrigue this weekend, as they host perennial ACC contender Georgia Tech.

First for the easy ones, Florida State will look to bounce back from their 24-3 defeat Monday night against Virginia Tech on a short week against Samford. Look for the Noles to score early and often tonight in this one with a much easier level of competition.

Miami is still smarting from their Sunday night lost to LSU at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Canes will get an easy game today with Savannah State at Hard Rock Stadium. Quarterback Malik Rosier has got to get himself back on track to open this season.

And in Orlando, UCF puts the nation’s longest winning streak on the line at 14 in a row, and will easily make it 15 in a row in a game with South Carolina State. Look for QB McKenzie Milton and Co. to light them up and not play much in the second half of this one.

For USF, they have the noon Eastern Time start with the Yellow Jackets, as we wrote earlier this week the toughest task is defending their triple option. It will be difficult on USF defense to stop quarterback Taquon Marshall and all of their assorted runners in the backfield.

Bulls quarterback Blake Barnett threw for three scores and ran for another against easy competition in Elon. However, this will be a step up in competition for him as well, against Tech.

And finally tonight in Gainesville, the Gators open SEC play against Kentucky, a program that they have owned since 1986. Our Matt Zemek took a unique look many different parts of life and pop culture that started 32 years ago when the Wildcats last beat the Gators.

In the present day, quarterback Felipe Franks Franks looks to follow up on his five touchdown first half performance last week against Charleston Southern. The Gators will also try to use running back Jordan Scarlett more this week as well. Florida is heavily favored to be 2-0 and 32 for 32 against the Wildcats.

CFB

Quarterback uncertainty dominates state schools

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

One thing is for certain as we head towards the 2019 college football season, around the state of Florida most of the prominent programs have more questions than answers at their quarterback position.

This was magnified last Wednesday, when it was learned that UCF’s presumed starter to begin the 2019 season, Darriel Mack, Jr., had suffered a non-football injured broken ankle. And, he is now out indefinitely. That has now thrown a real curve ball into Coach Josh Heupel’s plan to have Mack be the guy, but potentially be challenged by Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush.

Now, it appears that it’s Wimbush’s job and Mack may end up being medically redshirted all together.

There is equal instability in both Miami and Tallahassee. And, in both of the cases of Florida State and the Canes, a veteran transfer may end up being in their mix immediately, as well.

For the Noles, after the January dismissal of last year’s starter Deondre Francois, junior James Blackman will apparently be the quarterback for this season. However, the pressure is on second year boss, Willie Taggart, and he secured left-handed Wisconsin graduate transfer Alex Hornibrook, who could become the guy very quickly, if Blackman falters or should get injured.

Meanwhile, in Miami the Hurricanes are excited for Ohio State transfer Tate Martell (photo above) coming to them and winning an NCAA waiver ruling to make him immediately eligible. Miami does have part-time 2018 starter N’Kosi Perry that they can go to at the beginning of the year, but it’s believed that Martell will eventually take over the offense of new coordinator Dan Enos and maybe, soon.

The other two prominent programs in the state both return an experienced starter.

In Gainesville, the Gators will turn things back over to senior Feleipe Franks for the third consecutive year. Franks improved under Dan Mullen and his staff in 2018 and even though his statistics weren’t tremendous, he won critical games at the end of the year against South Carolina, FSU and the huge “New Year’s Six” bowl win over Michigan.

Clearly, the Gators are in the best shape of all state programs and want Franks to help lead them to what they believe could be an SEC East Division winning season in 2019.

And finally, that USF Bulls will also return veteran quarterback Blake Barnett for his second season in Tampa Bay. Barnett played very well at the beginning of last season as USF and coach Charlie Strong started at 7 – 0. However, with Barnett banged up down the stretch of the year, the Bulls faltered losing their final six games.

Barnett won’t face a challenge from last year’s backup and part-time starter Chris Oladokun, as he has transferred out of the program. So, the hope is the former Alabama and Arizona State quarterback can recapture some of the form that we saw last season. Then, the Bulls should be a bowl contender again this year.

Still that’s not certain.

And in Tampa, Tallahassee, Orlando and Miami, they want QB answers, too.

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CFB

What does UConn leaving American for Big East mean for USF/UCF?

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Get ready for another round of potential chaotic conference expansion speculation and maneuvering. And for USF and UCF there has to be simultaneous excitement but also concern with the latest news.

First, a report on Friday night that the University of Connecticut (or UConn, as they are commonly known) is about to suddenly depart the American Athletic Conference and return to their previous longtime conference home, the Big East.

The website and publication “Digital Sports Desk” had the story first that the Huskies are on the verge of departing the American and being back with some familiar foes in the Northeast, as soon as 2020:

The outlet, which is based in Boston, reported that the only immediate holdup is UConn trying to figure out what happens with its flailing football program that went 1 – 11 and 0-8 in the American last year.

This is because, the Big East, since reconstituting in 2014, has gone back to its previous “basketball powerhouse” mentality of the 1980s in recent years. And, therefore, all of its members don’t rely on football any longer. Further example of this is: none of the current Big East members have a Division One football program.

The prominent basketball centered original members of the Big East like Villanova, Georgetown, St. John’s, Seton Hall and Providence, wanted to go back to the previous model and mindset.

Speaking of prominent members, UConn’s men won NCAA hoop titles in 1999, 2004 and 2009, while in the Big East and a fourth title in 2014. And, their women’s program under legendary coach Geno Aurieamma has won 11 National Championships.

With the others departing in 2014, the American Conference formed, with existing Big East teams like USF, Cincinnati and UConn joining up with schools like Houston, Memphis, SMU and of course, UCF on invites.

The American began playing football in 2014, as well, and has 12 football playing schools currently, including the U.S. Naval Academy.

More than likely, the Huskies will have to become a football independent at the Division One or FBS level at least in the short-term, and may actually consider dropping back to the FCS level, where they once played. This is because of the significant money drain that football can be on a program that is unsuccessful and losing money for a long amount of time.

Mike Anthony of the Hartford Courant reported on Saturday morning that UConn is awaiting an official invitation but formal announcement could come very quickly that the Huskies will go back into the conference that they helped form in 1979:

Now, for the reality for the rest of the American teams?

Will there be new openings and opportunities forthcoming for schools like: Houston, Cincinnati, Memphis, and of coursre, USF and UCF to jump to another League? The first and most obvious point is that another conference that has football has to start dealing invites.

And there’s not a guarantee that it will happen.

The widespread belief is that the Big XII, which currently is constituted with only 10 schools, would be that conference to invite at least two, but as many as possibly six teams to become a “super conference.” And therefore, it would make the Big XII much more attractive when all of its television deals are up in the early 2020s.

If going to 16 teams is the case, then the USF Bulls and the UCF Knights would be in prime position, as a Florida package deal to join in, with the likes of Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia. It has been long speculated that Houston, because of its media market size and SMU (Dallas) for the same reason, would be offered.

And, the fact that the Cougars and the Mustangs are schools, who were previously with current Big XII teams, Texas, TCU, Baylor, and Texas Tech in the old Southwest Conference, would be the logical choices to fit in to the Big XII, if they only expand back by two more teams.

The Big XII also stands to have a massive new TV and internet multi-media deal for it’s schools soon.

Keep in mind that in March the American just announced television multi media rights and revenue deal for its member schools. And, the 12 year $1 billion deal with ESPN was supposed to entice teams to stay. Also, Commissioner Mike Aresco got the league member schools to agree to a more significant penalty for leaving and sign away, “grant of rights” for trying to leave for another conference.

That means that UConn or anyone else, gives up their all of their TV revenue and other outside of the conference money for the next few years, if they try to leave.

That’s why UConn essentially downgrading football anyway, makes more sense in this scenario.

UCF has won the American Conference Football Championship in each of the last two years (above) and represented the conference in a New Year’s Six Bowl game both times. They stunned the Auburn Tigers in the 2018 Peach Bowl in Atlanta, but lost a year ago to LSU in the Fiesta Bowl in Arizona. Both games were a massive financial windfall for the Knights and the American.

USF is also extremely attractive because the Tampa Bay television market is number 11 in the country and has a huge football fan base. The Bulls also have had recent success, including an 11 win season in 2017.

Meanwhile, the American could obviously add schools (like they did before) from Conference USA or the Sun Belt to replace UConn or any other members that try to leave.

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