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.
Final Power Rankings for 2019
It’s the final edition of our 2019 power rankings headed into the bowl onslaught and the final Sunday of NFL football. The teams at the top should look familiar, including two that have won their bowl game already. and the final three have definitely deserved to be moved up or into the final list.
Florida Gators – the Gators are prepping for Monday night’s Orange Bowl against the Virginia Cavaliers and will hold down the top spot in the power rankings to dnd season based on their overall consistent performance. A second straight 10-win year and also “New Year’s Six” bowl game validates the hire and the hard work of Dan Mullen, his staff and the players. You consider the Florida’s only two losses in the toughest college conference in land are to #1 LSU and rival Georgia, who won the East and is in the Sugar Bowl themselves.
So, it’s been a good season. Now, can they cap it off what they did a year ago with a Peach Bowl win over Michigan?
UCF Knights – As we wrote on Monday, they finished with a third straight 10-win season by hammering the Marshall Thundering Herd in the Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa. Freshman QB Dillon Gabriel (above) showed great poise, skill and potential for the future throughout the season. He threw two more touchdowns and ran for another, while being named the Bowl MVP.
UCF clearly has the arrow pointing up and has established itself, as the second-best program in the state behind the Gators.
FAU Owls- A great finish to the regular season, a Conference USA title game win and now, a Boca Raton Bowl win over SMU last Saturday brings the Owls to finish third on our list. Even though coach Lane Kiffin has departed to take over at Ole Miss, former USF, Oregon and FSU coach Willie Taggart slid-into Boca Raton and has a great chance to succeed right away.
Quarterback Chris Robison continued to play well throughout the close of season, including in the win over the Mustangs last Saturday. FAU won 10 games for the second time in three years and is deserving of this slot.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Even though the Bucs had their four-game winning streak snapped last Saturday by the Houston Texans, they still have played consistent, good football in the second half of the year and had gotten their record to 7-7.
Yes, QB Jameis Winston has been maddening with the interceptions, but also has been smashing single-game passing records and has been a key part of them being able to score/win games. But, after three more picks last week, Winston needs a good performance in the finale’ with the Falcons Sunday to quiet down the critics that the Buccaneers part with him after this season.
Tampa Bay’s defense under coordinator Todd Bowles has also approved, particularly their secondary where they have spent numerous premium draft picks over the last few years. A win Sunday would only be the third time this decade the Buccaneers don’t have a losing season.
Miami Dolphins – They come off a dramatic overtime win over the lowly Bengals last week in a game, where they collapsed but still found a way to win. It was their fourth one of the season after an 0 – 7 start and clearly the team is playing hard for coach Brian Flores and his staff at the end.
We are still puzzled as to why they insist on not playing QB Josh Rosen in these meaningless games, but it likely means GM Chris Grier and Flores have decided that Rosen is being cut at the end of this season and they will simply eat $4 million dollars in dead cap money.
Finally, the development of DeVante Parker hass continued as he went over 1,000 yards receiving last week and got a contract extension with a bunch of guaranteed money. And, while Miami does have numerous holes to fill, they have a chance to be a .500 team in 2020, if they keep trending in the right direction.
UCF uses fast start to blast Marshall in Gasparilla Bowl
The UCF Knights only had to come about an hour across I-4 to Tampa for their bowl experience this past weekend. And on Monday, they made the most of their short trip and hammered C-USA foe, Marshall, 45-28 to capture the Gasparilla Bowl. And in the process, UCF finished with 10 wins for the third straight year.
The Knights, out of the American Athletic Conference, had played in a “New Year’s Six” bowl game in each of the last two years, losing to LSU in the Fiesta Bowl last season, but upsetting Auburn in the Peach Bowl for a perfect 13 – 0 year in 2017.
However, if Monday was supposed to be anti-climactic for coach Josh Heupel’s club, they certainly didn’t show it, as right away they jumped all over the Thundering Herd.
Playing most of the first half in a steady rain, defensive back Richard Grant returned an interception 39 yards for a score in the first minute of the game. Then the Knights turned a Marshall fumble quickly into a Greg McCrae 26 yard touchdown run (above) and the game was 14-zip less than six minutes in.
Then, LB Tre-on Morris – Brash picked up this botched backwards screen pass and raced into the end zone and the rout was on:
UCF'S DEFENSE WITH ITS SECOND TD IN 8 MINUTES 😳 pic.twitter.com/w5lWbxqKhx
— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) December 23, 2019
Marshall tried to climb back into the game behind quarterback Isaiah Green in the third quarter, as he ran for one score and threw for another but it wasn’t nearly enough. Knights freshman QB Dillon Gabriel threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third score, himself, in the same third stanza.
By the time the quarter was over, UCF had pulled away for good and eventually won the game 48-25.
Gabriel, finished with 260 yards passing and the three total TDS and was named the Gasparilla Bowl Most Valuable Player.
In securing their third consecutive 10 or more wins season, the Knights do get some consolation after having won the American Conference Championship in each of the last two years. And, Heupel clearly has a foundation in place for UCF to have widespread success in the coming years.
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