The predictions: Does Tennessee-Florida still matter?

by Gary Shelton on September 22, 2018 · 0 comments

in general

Can Mullen make Florida matter again?/CARMEN MANDATO

Saturday, 2 a.m.

Florida at Tennessee: Once, it mattered. Once, it was the center of the college football universe.

Now, it is two average teams trying to stay afloat.

Oh, you know about Tennessee and Florida, about how Peyton Manning never beat the Gators, how Danny Wuerffel never lost to the Vols. You know about Steve Spurrier crowing that you "can't spell Citrus (Bowl) without UT. You know about the Faxgate. You know about Will Grier plunging a dagger into the chests of the Vols, and how Feleipe Franks stuck one in the back.

Ah, but that was long ago. The Gators and the Vols are both starting over with new coaches. And while they have beaten the little guys on their schedules, neither team has won a game that matters.

In a lot of ways, this will be a test for Dan Mullen's Gators. The road ahead for Florida has bumps, with FSU, Georgia and LSU still to

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come. But the Gators didn't expect greatness this season. They'll struggle to reach a bowl game, but the future looks better.

Prediction: Tennessee 24, Florida 16

USF vs. East Carolina: After two weeks of coming from behind to beat Power 5 schools, the Bulls need to break out against East Carolina. So far, USF has had plenty of offense -- especially in the fourth quarters -- but not nearly enough defense.

In their three games this season, the Bulls have surrendered 823 yards on the ground. That's not just a team getting beaten at the point of attack; that's a team that hasn't had the size to smother opponents.

That should change somewhat Saturday. The Pirates don't have the athletes to run with USF, which should finally win a blowout.

Prediction: USF 34, East Carolina 14.

Northern Illinois vs. FSU: A few weeks ago, everyone thought that the Seminoles would be rolling by now. Instead, they're rolling over. FSU is 1-2, beating mighty Samford, as the offense has run in place under new coach Willie Taggart.

Oh, I think FSU will win -- it's defense is better than the Northern Illinois offense. But the offense still might struggle, especially if the team can't block defensive end Sutton Smith.

Prediction: FSU 3, Northern Illinois 2.

FIU at Miami: FIU will be spirited under Butch Davis, the former UM coach, but it won't much matter. The Hurricanes simply have too many athletes.

Prediction: Miami 31, FIU 10

Best National Games

Texas A&M at Alabama: Jimbo Fisher wanted this? Alabama every year? He might rethink things after this one.

Prediction: Alabama 27, Texas A&M 14

Georgia at Missouri: The Bulldogs look like they're on a collision course with Alabama in the SEC title game.

Prediction: Georgia 33, Missouri 17

Nebraska at Michigan: Nebraska' Scott Frost says things might get worse before they get better. Saturday was what he had in mind.

Prediction: Michigan 17, Nebraska 14


Pittsburgh at Tampa Bay: Forget the records. Pittsburgh is a quality team, and they could make Monday night a challenge for the surprising Bucs.

Tampa Bay has to remind itself not to get conservative. The running game can't be counted upon very much. This team moves if Ryan Fitzpatrick has another good night spreading the ball around.

Defensively, the Bucs will have their hands full with Pittsburgh's receivers. They have to make Ben Roethlisberger uncomfortable with their pass rush.

Prediction: Pittsburgh 23, Tampa Bay 20

New Orleans at Atlanta: It's hard to travel and win in the NFL, and the Saints haven't been very good so far. But Drew Brees should get New Orleans going this week.

Prediction: New Orleans 28, Atlanta 21

San Francisco at Kansas City: The 49ers have last year's hot new quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo. The Chiefs have this year's in Patrick Mahomes.

Prediction: Kansas City 30, San Francisco 21

Tennessee at Jacksonville: The Jags are starting to realize just how good they can be. When Blake Bortles is average, the team is very good.

Prediction: Jacksonville 24, Tennessee 13




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