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10 Questions: Who will FSU’s Jimbo Fisher pick as his QB?

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So who starts for FSU against N.C. State? Sean Maguire, who played as the team lost to Clemson, or Everett Golson, who played in the Georgia Tech loss?

It’s a coin flip, and FSU coach Jimbo Fisher isn’t saying. But if one guy starts, and finishes, he’s probably going to be FSU’s starter for the rest of the season. Remember, Golson was cleared medically last week and didn’t play a snap against Clemson. But Maguire wasn’t nearly as good against the Tigers as he had been against Syracuse.

The choice here says Maguire, who seems more willing to stretch the field than Golson. With Dalvin Cook getting so much attention, that could be a needed component against the Wolfpack.

Golson hasn’t been bad. He’s just worked so hard to protect the ball (one interception) that he’s been unwilling to push the envelope.

Key question: If Fisher thought Maguire was the guy in last week’s huge game against Clemson, how can he think otherwise against a big NC. State team?

Does Florida have a realistic chance to get into the college playoffs?

Sure it does. The Gators have one loss, and three of the four playoff teams have only one loss. Think of it this way: If the Gators beat South Carolina this week, they’ll move to, say, ninth in the polls. They shouldn’t move much after beating Florida Atlantic, but a win over FSU could get them to sixth or so. That’s close enough that a win over Alabama in the SEC title game should get them into the top four. Remember, a lot of upsets are sure to happen over the next three weeks.

The bigger question for Florida is, with this offense, can the Gators hope to beat FSU and Alabama back to back? A loss to either of them, and Florida can forget about the playoffs.

Can Miami slow down North Carolina sensation Marquise Walker?

No one else has. The Tar Heels’ Walker last week threw for 494 yards to lead 17th-ranked North Carolina (8-1) over Duke, a team the Hurricanes barely (and controversially) beat. North Carolina is averaging 40 points per game.

Oddly, Walker grew up as a Miami fan, but the Hurricanes never offered him a scholarship.

Will USF’s high-powered running game be able to run the ball against Temple?

It will probably be the determining factor in the game between Temple, which is trying to clinch the American Athletic Conference East title, and USF, which is trying to become bowl eligible. USF is 22nd in the nation running the ball, while Temple is 12th in the league at stopping the run.

However, running quarterbacks have had success against the Owls, which is where Quinton Flowers comes in. He’s rushed for 657 yards so far this season.

It’s going to be hard on the USF defense. Temple has averaged 39.4 points in league games.

FIU is at five wins. How reachable is bowl eligibility for the Panthers?

It won’t be easy. The Panthers have two of the toughest teams of Conference USA left to play: Marshall and Western Kentucky. Western is 6-0 in league play, and Marshall – upset in triple overtime by Middle Tennessee – is 5-1. In other words, FIU may have scheduled itself out the race.

What put the Panthers in this position? Well, the loss to FAU didn’t help. Neither did the loss to UMass. It has left FIU in the position of needing to win an upset to have a chance at the post-season.

Can quarterback Alex McGough and running back Alex Gardner get the Panthers there? They’ll both have to have great games, and the defense will have to slow a good Marshall team down.

Do they have enough digits on the scoreboard for FAU and Middle Tennessee?

It figures to be a shootout. Middle Tennessee is averaging 33.8 points per game, while FAU is giving up 34 points a game. That means a lot of extra points even though the Blue Raiders are 11th (of 13) teams running the ball. But quarterback Brent Stockstill is coming off a 353-yard performance in an upset of Marshall.

Forget records. Is Florida’s offensive line good enough for it to win out?

It wasn’t against Vanderbilt, which overwhelmed the Gators up front. The result was the Trent Harris struggled for time, and running back Kelvin Taylor struggled for room. But that offensive line has been better in previous games and, really, it shouldn’t struggle too much against South Carolina.

Should Gator fans be worried down the stretch? Of course. Isn’t that what being a college football fan is all about? Worry?

Now that the national title game seems out of reach, where is FSU likely to end up in a bowl game?

After the last two years, you won’t like the answer. FSU is looking at the Peach Bowl on Dec. 31, the Russell Athletic Bowl on Dec. 29 or (if it loses this week to N.C. State, the Taxslayer Bowl (huh?) in Jacksonville on Jan. 2. FSU should be a fairly attractive option for bowl games with Cook and Jalen Ramsey, but these days, bowls are all tied up with conference affiliations.

Can interim coach Larry Scott heal the Miami defense?

That’s been the real trouble spot for the Hurricanes. You can talk about the offense, but quarterback Brad Kaaya and running back Joe Yearby keep the ball moving. It is the defense – UM is last in the ACC in run defense – that is alarming to see.

Against Carolina – and a wide receiver corps that calls itself “The Freaks” – that defense is sure to get tested. But if the Hurricanes are ever going to restore the luster to their program, they’ll have to do it by emulating Warren Sapp, Ray Lewis and Sean Taylor.

It’s early yet, and high school players change their commitments. But how are the Florida teams doing in recruiting?

Very well, actually. And why wouldn’t they be?

FSU has the third-ranked class according to 247.com. Florida is 10th. Miami is 13th.That’s a good place to start.

Other teams include USF (85th), FAU (91st), FIU (99th) and Central Florida (114th).

What goes into recruiting? The energy of a program. The facilities. The strength of a conference. Location. History. Momentum.

Oh, yeah. And winning helps.

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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