We’ve reached the month of November and the final four Saturdays of the college football regular season are about to play out. We at FFI have our Tortilla Chips and Guacomole with the extra tablets, phones and T.V. screens ready to go. Let’s preview the Saturday slate for the most prominent teams:
Pitt at Miami 12:30 p.m.
Will our Ari Russell ever see his Canes win again? Four games ago they were 4-0 and now suddenly you are wondering if Miami will finish over .500? Clearly QB Brad Kaaya is struggling with decision making and pocket presence. He’s got to get his act together starting with this match-up. Pitt features RB James Conner, who has battled back from cancer to lead the Panthers offense, and is their best weapon. Will the Hurricanes get their swagger back? Will Pitt send them to an unthinkable 5th straight ACC loss?
Florida at Arkansas 3:30 p.m.
It’s the SEC “co-main event” prior to the prime time Bama at LSU. And, as we laid out earlier this week, the 1-loss Gators are the only state school remaining who has legitimately has a shot at the College Football Playoff, but it is a long shot starting with today in Fayetteville, AR. The Gators handled rival Georgia in Jacksonville last week. Meanwhile, the Hogs, who already have wins over TCU and Ole Miss, are still stinging from being destroyed 56-3 by Auburn two weeks ago. Time to find out what Luke Del Rio and Co. are truly made of in a true road game. The last time the Gators played in one of these (Knoxville in September) they got rocked by the Vols a second half avalanche. Their SEC East hopes are relying on handling it differently.
Tulane at UCF 5 p.m.
This AAC match-up in Orlando is a make-up game from Hurricane Matthew a few weeks ago. The Golden Knights come off a physically and emotionally wild roller coaster game at Houston seven days ago. Scott Frost’s bunch picked Cougar star QB, Greg Ward Jr., three times in the first half and cashed in for a 21-3 lead at the break. That was the good news. The bad news is the played the second half. And Ward played brilliantly leading Houston all the way back to a 31-24 win. UCF QB Mckenzie Milton (shown above) didn’t do much either throwing or running last week, but he’s the top weapon the Knights have. Tulane’s defense is poor and Milton should exploit it. The Green Wave’s lost three straight and best hope is to get some kind of rushing attack behind Dontrell Hilliard going.
and Finally, FSU at NC State 7 p.m.
An ACC showdown for the Noles in Raleigh after their they had their hearts pulled out and stomped on by DeShaun Watson and Clemson in the fourth quarter last Saturday night. The good news for Florida State is NC State is equally reeling and ironically, it started when they missed an easy field goal that would have won them the game at Clemson and lost in OT. Since then, also like the Seminoles, the Pack got “dump trucked” at Louisville and now, last Saturday lost to lowly Boston College who hadn’t won an ACC game likely since Reagan was still in office. (Ok, we wanted to make sure that you were still reading).
With all that written, N.C. State will likely put pressure on Noles QB Deondre Francois and hit him some, etc. (everyone else has) and make this an interesting game. What will likely happen is RB Dalvin Cook will have another explosive game. He’s averaging 168 yards per game over the last five and is FSU’s best weapon.
Four games involving he prominent state schools teams and we’ll be recapping them, as they get done.
Week three power rankings are tighter at top
Week 2 of the college football season was not very kind to a handful off the state university’s last weekend. While week 1 of the NFL season was brutal for our in-state teams, as well. After a under whelming weekend for Florida football lets take a look at how things stack up in our rankings:
Florida Gators- The Gators were one of the only bright spots last week in the State. It took Florida until the 2nd quarter to find the endzone, which is something they surely didn’t envision. From there, they would head to an easy 45-0 victory over UT-Martin. The Gators did suffer two potential major losses on the night. RB/WR Kadarius Toney and DB C.J. Henderson were both injured and could miss the conference opener at Kentucky next week.
UCF Knights- UCF put up a lot of points (above) and a lot of yards, yet again. The Knights went over 500 yards and for the 28th game in a row put up 30 points. Freshman Dillon Gabriel silenced a crowd of over 30,000 that was the largest in program history for FAU. The Knights put up 14 points in both the first and second quarter on their way to a blowout victory. This week they face Stanford coming from California into the “Bounce House.”
This game was looking like a ranked match up before the Cardinal lost to USC late last Saturday night. Still, this is a big game for Knights against a Power-5 opponent and coach Josh Heupel knows they have to be impressive.
Florida State Seminoles- The Noles slide into the 3 spot or did they really back up into it? FSU was painfully close to loosing at home to ULM. Had the Warhawks gone for two, like many expected them to do, they might have walked out of Tallahassee with Willie Taggart contract in hand.
For the second week in a row the Noles had a 2nd half collapse. After leading 24-7 at the break they went into the 4th quarter still up 24-21, but then faltered badly, again, only to hang on 45-44 in OT. Heading into conference play this weekend the Noles will need to get a grip on things or they won’t end well starting at Virginia Saturday night.
Miami Hurricanes- The Canes were oh so close last week. In the first true road game of the year the U almost took one in Chapel Hill. Freshman Jarren Williams had a great bounce back performance throwing for 300 yards and two touchdowns. After being down all game the Canes took the lead for the first time in the fourth quarter with 4:45 left to play.
The Hurricanes though still want this one back, as UNC freshman QB Sam Howell hit a 20-yard pass on 4th and 17 to keep the game winning drive going. The Canes would drive down the field to attempt a 49-yard field goal that was missed. Miami though should get into the win column next week against Bethune- Cookman.
Is it freshman QB Dillon Gabriel’s job at UCF already?
When quarterback Brandon Wimbush decided to transfer from Notre Dame to UCF, he knew he would be in a QB battle. After Darriel Mack Jr. went out with an off season broken ankle, it appeared the job was all his. However, in the season opener against FAMU, he split reps with freshman, Dillon Gabriel. Now, after Gabriel played the entire game Saturday night at FAU, we’re left to wonder if the job belongs to the freshman?
Both QBs had played well against the over-matched Rattlers in week one leaving the door open for more split duty. And, coach Josh Heupel even said the job wouldn’t be Wimbush’s 100 percent.
Well, against FAU this past Saturday though it was just the freshman Gabriel who saw all the action. Wimbush was held out with an undisclosed injury, and now the question is? will he get back in immediately? Gabriel went only 7/19, but had touchdown passes of 57 and 74 yards ending the night with 245 yards:
— CBS Sports Network (@CBSSportsNet) September 7, 2019
That many yards on that few completions shows the big play potential of UCF’s offense, and Gabriel led four TD drives in the first half of the blowout win.
Heupel said Wimbush could have played in an emergency and didn’t say anything about his availability for this weekend’s game Stanford.
After just being involved in a QB controversy that saw him go to the bench last year at Notre Dame, Wimbush might have walked right into another one in Orlando. If he is indeed healthy enough to play in the game against Stanford, it will be interesting to see who starts?
This will be one of the bigger games for the Knights this season and Wimbush has played in some big games in his career from his time in South Bend. We don’t know right now, but come Saturday we may find out what Heupel and has staff think of Gabriel leading them, at least for now. And, do we have a real QB controversy on our hands?
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