Week 8 marks the end of the first half of the season and the start of the second half of the season for everyone. This week we highlight an important SEC-East matchup, an SEC v. ACC rivalry game and an ACC matchup. The theme here is that the south is the epi-center of college football.
#2 Florida Gators(6-0) vs. #7 South Carolina Gamecocks(6-1)
When: 3:30 ET, CBS
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, Florida
Weather: 70’s, sunny
Results last season: South Carolina Gamecocks 17, Florida Gators 12
Final Score this Season: Florida Gators 20, South Carolina Gamecocks 17
Florida has defeated three ranked opponents this season in addition to Tennessee on the road. The Gators are scoring 28 points per game, 66th best in the country. That being said, 28 points a game in the SEC is equivalent to about 35 points a game in other conferences given the conference’s high quality of defenses.
The Gators are led on offense by quarterback Jeff Driskell. Driskell is the definition of a dual threat quarterback. He has completed 67 percent of his passes for 836 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. The dynamic leader has also rushed for 326 yards and four touchdowns. The running game is anchored by Mike Gillislee who has 120 carries, 615 yards and seven touchdowns. Receiving, Jordan Reed, Frankie Hammond and Quinton Dunbar have accounted for 45 catches, 586 yards and four touchdowns. Kicker Caleb Sturgis has been successful on 11 out of his 13 field goal attempts. In addition, Sturgis is 3-3 on field-goals attempts over 40 yards.
Florida has the best defensive team in the country, earning its exaltations with a 12 point per game yield — good for No. 6 in the FBS.
South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier was a Heisman Trophy winner as a player at Florida, and a national championship winner as a head coach in Gainesville. Spurrier will obviously be prepared for a big game game against his alma mater, and viewers may see some innovative play calling from the Old Ball Coach.
Quarterback Connor Shaw manages the offense and is himself a dual threat passing and running. Shaw has completed 69 percent of his passes for 910 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions. In terms of rushing, the dynamic QB has 76 attempts for 280 yards and one touchdown. Marcus Lattimore leads the Gamecocks running game with 129 carries for 584 yards and 10 touchdowns. Publicly, South Carolina officials are saying that Lattimore is doubtful to play. Chris Fowler of ESPN College Game Day exclaimed yesterday — paraphrasing here — that he would surprised if Lattimore did not play, thus hinting that Spurrier is playing mind games with his former program. The Gamecock corps of receivers Damiene Byrd, Bruce Ellington, Ace Sanders and Rory Anderson have 54 catches, 884 yards and 12 touchdowns. Kicker Adam Yates has been successful on a paltry three out of five field goal attempts.
The South Carolina defense is fast, athletic and talented. They looked slightly out of shape and out of their element last week in Baton Rouge, Louisiana(who would blame them). The Gamecocks are ranked 5th in the country in points allowed per game with 12.
This game has everything: coaching, good offenses, GREAT defenses and will have an awesome atmosphere. Florida andSouth Carolina are evenly matched in all facets with the exception of place-kicking. This game will come down to a field-goal or the ability to consistently hit field-goals throughout the game. Florida wins in the Swamp.
#12 Florida State(6-1) vs. Miami Hurricanes (4-3)
When: 8pm ET, ABC
Where: Sunlife Stadium – Miami, Florida
Weather: 70s, sunny
Results last season: Florida State 23, Miami 19
Final Score this Season: Florida State 39, Miami 18
Florida State and Miami have played 56 times. Miami leads the all-time series in wins 31-25. In the previous ten games, the series is tied, 5-5.
Florida State is back in the groove after pummeling ACC foe Boston College last weekend 51-7. The Seminoles are led on offense by behemoth quarterback E.J. Manuel. Manuel is completing 72 percent of his passes for 1804 yards, 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. Future NFL and current FSU running backs Chris Thompson and James Wilder Jr. have combined for 137 attempts, 960 yards and 11 touchdowns. In terms of receiving, the Seminoles have eight players who have caught a touchdown pass to date this season. Kenny Shaw, Kelvin Benjamin and Rodney Smith lead the way with 57 receptions, 989-yards and nine touchdowns as a group.
Defensively Florida State is ranked 4th in the country in points allowed per game with 11. Clemson is the only ranked team that Florida State has played and the Tigers are the only team that has scored more than 20 points against the Seminoles TO DATE this season.
Miami is led on offense by junior quarterback Stephen Morris, though he is doubtful for this game. Morris has completed 58 percent of his passes for 1991 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions. Back-up Ryan Williams should get the start. The running game is propelled by Duke Johnson and Mike James, who have combined for 162 carries, 830 yards and nine touchdowns. Receivers Philip Dorsett and Rashawn Scott have 59 receptions, 934 yards and five touchdowns as a tandem.
The Miami defense is allowing 32 points per game this season, which ranks 95th in the country.
Missed field goals have been the hallmark of this rivalry. However, FSU will not need one in order to win this year. Look for the Florida State running backs to have a GREAT game and for E.J Manuel to throw a host of long play action passes to his stable of competent reeivers. Florida State wins big on the road in Miami.
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (2-4) vs. Boston College (1-5)
When: 3:30 pm ET
Where: Bobby Dodd Stadium – Atlanta, Georgia
Weather: 60s, sunny
Results last season: N/A
Final Score this Season: Georgia Tech 37, Boston College 23
The Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech has been just that this season, a WRECK. Belligerent Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson’s team has scored a lot of points, but that hasn’t translated to wins.
The Yellow Jackets are averaging 38 points per game running Johnson’s triple option offense They are led offensively by dual threat quarterback Tevin Washington. Washington has completed 63 percent of his passes for 804-yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions. In addition,Washington has 94 carries for 408-yards and 13 touchdowns. The running game, outside of Washington, is lead by Orwin Smith who has accounted for 362-yards and three touchdowns. The passing game is almost non-existent however, Jeff Greene is having a good season with 12 receptions, 233-yards and two touchdowns.
The Tech defense is allowing 30 points per game, 84th in the country. The defense’s struggles cost coordinator Al Groh his job two weeks ago.
Boston College could be called a WRECK in its own right. The Eagles have lost to Army, played against Florida State last week without three of their top defensive linemen and are in the midst of a lame duck final season for head coach Frank Spaziani.
The Eagles are led on offense by stalwart junior quarterback Chase Rettig. Rettig has completed 56 percent of his passes for 1648 yards, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions. Running back Andre Williams has galloped for 473 yards and four touchdowns to date. Receivers Alex Amidon and Johnathan Coleman have combined for 57 receptions, 930-yards and seven touchdowns. Kicker Nate Freese has been the Eagles best player, besides Chase Rettig, this season. Freese has been successful on all nine of his field-goal attempts this season.
The Eagles defense is allowing 33 points per game, which ranks them 98th in the country.
This should be a relatively high scoring game because both squads are below average defensively. Look for Georgia Tech to control the ball and thus time of possession with its running game. That game plan will wear down the Eagles’ young and injured defense. If the game comes down to field goal kicking Boston College has a good chance, but expect Georgia Tech to win a poorly played game at home in Atlanta.