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10 college football questions: FSU’s Dalvin Cook could have been even better

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How many yards would Dalvin Cook have by now if he were healthy? And how many if his offensive line was more cohesive?

The mind soars. As good as Cook has been for FSU this season, you can only imagine if he hadn’t had the hamstring problems that have nagged him. Then there is the offensive line, where three positions (left guard, center, right tackle) have been in constant flux.

That’s been the main problem as the Seminoles have tried to build some consistency throughout the season. FSU gets only a couple of more chances in this weekend’s name-your-score game against Chattanooga and then the Florida game.

Cook will still end up with a record-setting season. But you wonder if he might be aiming at 2,000 yards if he was healthy.

Is the FAU game coming along at a perfect time for Florida?

Absolutely. The criticism is justified when a team plays an outmanned opponent this late in the year, but the Gators can use a chance to breathe.

For one thing, the Gators have three injured defensive lineman they need to allow to heal. Oh, Florida should still have plenty to stop FAU. The Gators are 10th in the nation against the run.

Then there is the offense, which has struggled a bit the last two games. It took a late field goal to beat Vandy and a 53-yard run by Kelvin Harris to close out South Carolina. The Gators could use a big day on offense.

Can the University of Miami handle Georgia Tech’s option?

Probably not. This won’t go down as the best defense in UM history. Or the second. Not after giving up 59 to North Carolina and 58 to Clemson. Consider that Tech had 318 yards and held the ball more than 40 minutes in last year’s 28-17 victory.

The Hurricanes should be able to move the ball a little against the 3-7 Yellow Jackets. But whether they can tackle and adjust to the ball is another question.

USF played well in last week’s win over Temple. Can it do it again against Cincinnati?

We’ll see. For the Bulls’ defense, the challenge is completely different in stopping the Bearcats fourth-ranked passing offense. The USF defense has been pretty good for most of the year, but they haven’t played a team that can strike as quickly as Cincinnati.

USF can help its defense if it can keep the ball. With Marlon Mack, Quinton Flowers and Rodney Adams, it has a chance.

Does winless UCF stand a chance against East Carolina?

Maybe. The Pirates aren’t very good, either. They’re only 4-6, and the only team below them in the standings of the AAC East is UCF.

But UCF’s season has been disappointment stacked on underachievement. Frankly, it’s been hard to picture the Knights beating anyone with its running game and with its defense (the Knights are giving up 36.4 points per game).

Can FIU’s defense even slow down Western Kentucky?

It’s a tough chore. Western Kentucky has been held under 30 points only three times in the last two years.

FIU has given up 125 points in its last three games, and now come the 8-2 Hilltoppers (6-0 in league play) with dangerous Brandon Doughty at quarterback. For most of the season, the Panthers have struggled for consistency. It will be hard to find it against Western Kentucky.

How will Sean Maguire do now that he’s been named the starter at quarterback for FSU?

He’ll do well. Maguire likes to push the envelope a little more than former starter Everett Golson, who never really looked willing to challenge with the deep ball. But the FSU receivers have matured, and the running back is superb. Fisher probably figured that Maguire’s arm was more important than Golson’s feet.

How legitimate are the Gators’ playoff chances?

Ask yourself this: How legitimate are the Gators’ chances of beating FSU and Alabama back-to-back. If the Gators can do that, they ought to be in.

Yes, being ranked No. 8 means there is work to do. But look at the teams that the seven teams ahead of the Gators have to play: Clemson has to face a very good North Carolina team in the ACC title game. Alabama has to play Auburn (and Florida in the SEC title game). Ohio State plays Michigan State, Michigan (and presumably Iowa in the Big 10 title game). Notre Dame travels to No. 11 Stanford. Iowa plays Nebraska (and presumable Ohio State). Oklahoma State plays Oklahoma.

In other words, there is a lot of shuffling to do. If the Gators can take care of business, they should make it.

Miami interim coach Larry Scott says this season won’t be a failure if his team gets to a bowl game? Agree?

Not a bit. The Hurricanes gave up 59 to North Carolina and 58 to Clemson. They had their coach fired. They lost to rival FSU. They lost to a 6-4 Cincinnati team. That’s close enough to failure before you remember Miami’s past.

USF is justifiably worried about the Cincinnati passing game. But should the Bulls be able to do some harm themselves?

The Bearcats have given up a lot a lot of points this year. It seems obvious that the Bulls are going to have to be able to score their own.

This year, Cincy has given up 53 to Memphis, 52 to Alabama, 38 to Tulsa and BYU, 34 to Temple and 33 to Houston and Miami.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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