A tough loss for the Gators, a big comeback home win for the UCF Knights and a rivalry road win by the Hurricanes are all part of our latest power rankings. Here goes:
Florida Gators- The Gators did lose, but to another top 10 opponent keeping them in the top spot. The Gators dropped this one to the Georgia Bulldogs. The Gators inability to get off the field on third down along with the non-existent running game led to the defeat. Florida rallied twice in the fourth quarter to make it a once score game, but in the end, just couldn’t get off the field.
Now, the Gators need a lot of help to claim the SEC East crown. Even if they don’t, they could still end up in a New Years’ Six bowl game. The Gators will next take on Vanderbilt.
UCF Knights- The Knights continued their winning ways last week by knocking off the Houston Cougars 44-29. QB Dillon Gabriel stayed hot by tossing three touchdowns with 298 yards in the air. Running back, Bentavious Thompson led the team in rushing with 65 yards and two touchdowns. It was Tre Nixon who had the best day of the wideouts, not Gabe Davis.
Nixon (photo above) had six catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Next up for UCF is a trip to Tulsa. The Knight’s chances of going to the AAC title game are getting slimmer and slimmer as Cincinnati keeps winning. UCF will look to keep doing their job and control the controllable.
FAU Owls- The Owls secured a big win over Western Kentucky. QB Chris Robinson led the offense with 208 yards passing and two touchdowns. The defense came up big when the Owls needed it the most. With six minutes left in the 4th quarter, James Pierre came away with his second pick of the game.
The Owls are now tied with Marshall for the top spot in the C-USA Eastern division. The Herd won the head to head meeting so they would need to lose again for the Owls to take the crown. Next for FAU is a game against rival Florida International.
Miami Hurricanes- The Canes beatdown on Florida State 27-10 in Tallahassee. In the prosses, they put the icing on the cake for former coach Willie Taggart. Jarren Williams took back the QB1 role and didn’t disappoint. He threw for 313 yards and two touchdowns.
Jeff Thomas came back with a bang with 84 yards and a touchdown. Dee Wiggins and Brevin Jordan were the other two leading receivers. The Canes will look to make it three in a row when Louisville comes to town.
Jacksonville Jaguars- The Jags came back down to earth in London. The Texans took tamed the Jags with a 26-3 drumming across the pond. Deshawn Watson was on fire, only throwing six incompletions and two touchdowns. “Minshew Mania” may be over in Jacksonville, as he was 27-47 with two picks and two fumbles and now they will go back Nick Foles following the bye week.
American Conference announces UCF-USF will be in prime time
The American Athletic Conference and ESPN have announced game times for the Friday after Thanksgiving, including UCF’s traditional battle with USF set for Orlando.
Cincinnati at Memphis – 3:30 ET, ABC
USF at UCF, 8 pm ET, ESPN
Tulsa at ECU, noon ET, ESPNU
UConn at Temple, 3 pm ET, CBSSN
Navy/Houston and Tulane/SMU announced after games of 11/23.
— American Football (@American_FB) November 18, 2019
In each of the last two years UCF and USF battled in the 3:30 Eastern time slot on the Friday after Thanksgiving on ABC. The game two years ago was as dramatic as the young conference could have hoped. This as it was for a spot in the AAC Championship Game and to keep UCF’s 10-0 unbeaten season alive. The Bulls came into the game 9-1, themselves.
It ended up being one of the highest-rated non-prime time ESPN college football games of the entire season with a massive 3.3 rating and 4.6 million audience for Black Friday. The Knights dramatic kickoff return for a touchdown by Mike Hughes (above) in the final minutes vaulted them into the title game. And, they eventually completed a perfect season, including their Peach Bowl win over Auburn.
A year ago, UCF continued their unbeaten win streak and rolled into Tampa on the Friday after Thanksgiving for an afternoon National TV game at Raymond James Stadium. UCF was in complete command, when suddenly the best player in the American Conference, quarterback McKenzie Milton, had his leg fractured horribly in a second quarter scramble.
The Knights went on to win that game with the Bulls and repeat, as AAC Champions with another victory over Memphis the following week. However, they lost the Fiesta Bowl on January 1st to LSU.
The Bulls have stumbled to a 4 – 6 record and UCF has also suffered three losses to this point, including a stunning collapse 10 days ago at Tulsa. That’s where they were beaten on a last-second field goal despite being 17-point favorites over the Golden Hurricane.
The conference also announced that the two division leading teams Memphis and Cincinnati, who has already beaten UCF and USF, will square off in Memphis at 3:30 in that slot on ABC that the Bulls and Knights occupied the last two years.
Interestingly, both the Bearcats and Tigers may enter that game with only one loss each and may end up rematching each other the following week in the Conference Championship game.
UCF coach Heupel sidestepped FSU interest questions Monday
The UCF Knights have certainly gotten back on track with a three-game win streak, including burying houston 44-29 Saturday. And, as the season is rapidly coming to a close, conversations about job flirtations for second-year Coach Josh Heupel has heated up.
This includes former Oklahoma QB turned instant offense coaching guru being linked to the brand new Florida State opening after the Seminoles fired coach Willie Taggart Sunday.
Huepel met with the media prior to UCF’s practice Monday and was asked about the flattery of being mentioned for high-profile jobs:
LIVE with Coach Heup at his Monday presser before we battle Tulsa on Friday https://t.co/REkVNmKxJM
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) November 4, 2019
“Man, I love where I’m at (UCF). I love the guys that I am with. My wife and kids absolutely love living here and being a part of this University and this program. I think this may be the most unique job in college football just because of how young a program it is. And, being able to continue to build something.”
It is a typical tactic for coaches under consideration for other high-profile jobs. to use the standard “I’m happy where I am,” and “why would I want to be anywhere else?” approach that Heupel did with that answer to the Orlando media.
But, the fact is the ACC would be a huge step up from the American Conference in terms of profile, budget and pay. And, obviously Florida State is one of the iconic programs of the last 30-plus years of college football.
So, the intrigue continues.
Heupel came to UCF two years ago replacing Scott Frost, who was wooed to his alma mater, Nebraska. This was after having lead the Missouri offense, as coordinator and quarterback Drew Locke to a record-breaking 2017 season.
And, in year one Heupel followed up what Frost/UCF had done the previous year by the Knights having a perfect regular season in 2018 and winning the American Conference Championship Game for the second straight year at home over the same opponent, Memphis.
Unfortunately, the Knights did not complete the perfect season as LSU beat them in the Fiesta Bowl.
Heupel also agreed to a new five year contract at the end of last season, and the terms of that deal are not fully known. However, his previous contract had a massive $10 million buyout in the first two years. It’s not clear on what the number is now, on the new deal.
This year the Knights have taken two losses at Pitt and to Cincinnati. And currently, UCF is on the outside looking in to three-peat as Conference Championship game winners.
However, led by freshman left-handed quarterback, Dillon Gabriel their warp speed offense has continued to riddle American Conference opponents. And, he would be very attractive for FSU or anyone else that’s been watching Heupel successes.
So, now we wait to see how interested FSU or others will be in trying to lure him
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