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All Florida teams favored to win Saturday

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Saturday’s college football action in Florida is expected to leave fans of the state’s major football schools happy by the end of the day. Every one of them is favored to win today.

The 14th-ranked Miami Hurricanes began the weekend on Friday by going to Duke and easily handling the Blue Devils 31-6.

Vanderbilt at No. 21 Florida (Noon)

First up is the Florida Gators, as the face the Vanderbilt Commodores at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The No. 21 Gators start Luke Del Rio at quarterback after Florida made a second half comeback to win at Florida last Saturday. Vanderbilt is coming off of a 59-0 home thrashing at the hands of No. 1 Alabama.

Despite last week’s debacle, Florida has had plenty of difficult scoring on the Commodore defense. The Florida offense has scored just 11 points the last two years against that defense, yet managed to win both games. The Gators are a 9-point favorite to go 3-1 and 3-0 in the SEC.

“I can feel the excitement about the opportunity to come play at home at The Swamp,” said Gator coach Jim McElwain. “We’re looking forward to our fans getting out there for the early kick(off), and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

No. 17 South Florida at East Carolina (Noon)

Also at noon, 17th-ranked South Florida goes on the road to face the East Carolina Pirates. The 4-0 Bulls have scored at least 30 points in 21 straight games and should make it 22 today.

The USF defense leads the nations in turnovers created (14) and interceptions with 12. They are 21-point favorites today.

“We know we’re going to get (East Carolina’s) best,” said USF Coach Charlie Strong. “They had a big win over Connecticut. We’re just looking forward to the matchup.”

Florida State at Wake Forest (3:30 p.m.)

If Florida State proves the odds makers correct and beats Wake Forest today, they are 7.5-point favorites, it will be their first win of the season. If FSU loses to the Demon Deacons and falls to 0-3, it will mark their worst start since 1976.

Quarterback James Blackman will get his second start after a credible performance in the 27-21 loss to North Carolina State. The Seminoles’ defense, thought to be their strongest asset heading into the season, was a huge disappointment in last week’s loss.

“We didn’t think it was going to be like this,” said FSU safety Derwin James, “but I feel like this is a very important game and a very key game we need to win.

Memphis at Central Florida (7:00 p.m.)

After being postponed due to Hurricane Irma, the Central Florida Knights host the 3-0 Memphis Tigers in their American Athletic Conference opener. The 2-0 Knights are 5-point favorites.

Following their stunning 38-10 win at Maryland last Saturday, their second-ever against a Big 10 team, UCF earned votes in the polls. They could be on the verge of entering the top 25 with impressive wins the next two weeks.

“We want to be the hunters, not the hunted,” said UCF coach Scott Frost. “(Memphis was) picked to win the AAC West.”

Charlotte at Florida International (7:00 p.m.)

The Florida International Panthers face the Charlotte 49ers in the Conference USA opener. The 2-1 Panthers, coached by Butch Davis, are 10-point favorites over their 0-4 opponents.

Middle Tennessee at Florida Atlantic (7:00 p.m.)

Coach Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic Owls kick off their Conference-USA schedule by hosting the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. The Owls enter the game as 2.5 favorites.

 

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Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at Bob@ramos-sparks.com.

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