It’s a lighter schedule this week for the prominent teams in the state, as USF is off and the Hurricanes have already won easily over North Carolina. However, for UCF, Florida State and Florida they will all play significant games for different reasons.
First, in Orlando, UCF puts the nation’s longest win streak of 16 games on the line playing a Power Five program in Pitt from the ACC. The Knights steamrolled in state foe FAU last Friday night with QB McKenzie Milton re-starting some Heisman conversation. The junior UCF signal caller accounted for all six of the first Knights scores as they built a 24 point lead in the third quarter and were never threatened.
Now, UCF turns it’s attention to the Pitt Panthers and try to get some credibility out a possible easy win. This is because Penn State already destroyed Pitt 51-6, and last week, the Panthers lost to those lowly Tarheels that Miami smashed Thursday night. Pitt has a strong running back in Qadree Ollison who is averaging 6.2 yards per carry in their four games, including in that stretch was a 119 yard game vs. Penn St.
The Knights better be ready for his physical style.
Then again, Pitt better be ready for Milton and the UCF speed or this will be ugly for them.
Next, in Louisiville Saturday afternoon, the Seminoles will try to get their first ACC win of the season against a Cardinals program that is reeling.
FSU got their legs back under them last Saturday with a 37-19 win over Northern Illinois. QB Deondre Francois was better protected than the previous couple of games, and he threw two TDs. And the Noles defense came up with a couple of key stops in the second half to gain some confidence.
As for Louisville, they were wiped out by Alabama in the opener in Orlando and are missing former Heisman winner Lamar Jackson, who’s moved on to the NFL. The Cards beat Western Kentucky two weeks ago, but last week, Virginia humbled them 27-3. Sophomore QB Jawon Pass (great name for a QB) will try to run and pass Louisville at home into a position to win.
Clearly, coach Willie Taggart is already being questioned and if they cannot beat the Cardinals Saturday, and then have to play at Miami next week, the yelling will become deafening.
Finally, the Gators seek back to back SEC road wins traveling to Mississippi State.
As our Matt Zemek chronicled, it’s the return of Dan Mullen to Starkville, where Mullen was coach from 2009-17. And the Bulldogs featured QB Nick Fitzgerald, who was Mullen’s star QB the last couple years. Fitzgerald suffered a gruesome ankle injury at the end of last season. However, he’s back to full health.
Both clubs have lost to Kentucky, including Bulldogs losing in Lexington, just last week.
Florida is riding high off of blowing out rival Tennessee 47-21 in Knoxville seven days ago. In that win, the Gators defense got six takeaways and never let the Vols get started. Florida is actually #1 in the FBS in takeaways with 14.
They likely will face a tougher task with Fitzgerald in this match-up. He’s a dual threat that has 81 career touchdowns (including 38 on the ground)
Another thing to keep an eye on is both the Gators and the Bulldogs keeping their composure in a raucous environment with cowbells ringing.
Florida took the crowd out of the game immediately at Neyland Stadium, and would love to do so, again Saturday night.
Mississippi State had a horrible 16 penalties at Kentucky, including four personal fouls.
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