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Despite Gators’ shortcomings, it’s still the FSU-Florida rivalry

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Even though the Gators are missing seven defensive starters, it’s FSU-Florida.

Even though the Gators are ranked only 102nd in the nation, it’s FSU-Florida.

Even though FSU has won three straight, and five of the last six, it’s FSU-Florida.

There are a lot of reasons to believe this won’t be a close game. Despite a disappointing season, FSU has Dalvin Cook and Deondre Francois. Demarcus Walker is second in the nation in sacks. Tavaris McFadden is first in interceptions.

But Florida has had an over-achieving season, and they’re coming off an overachieving afternoon. So, yeah, it’ll probably be closer than it has a right to be. In the end, however, FSU can still score on any play. Florida can’t.

Prediction: FSU 23, Florida 16

All season long, the question has been that if someone finally stops the potent USF offense, what are the Bulls’ going to do. That sums up the hope of UCF, whose 35th-best defense will be the second-best that USF has faced all season.

SMU did a decent job with quarterback Quinton Flowers last week, but Flowers still rushed for 149 yards. UCF won’t be able to run up and down the field the way the Bulls are capable, but they can slow USF down. If they pen up Flowers, and if they can stop that pesky jet sweep, it could be a closer game than you’d think

Prediction: USF 27, UCF 20

Duke at Miami

The Hurricanes have had a solid first season under coach Mark Richt. They can get to their eighth win by beating the Blue Devils.

Miami has won three straight games. Mark Walton and Joe Yearby give the ‘Canes a solid running game, and Brad Kaaya is always dangerous.

Prediction: Miami 29, Duke 14

FIU at Old Dominion

ODU didn’t ease up against FAU last week, and they probably won’t this week against FIU. ODU is 8-3 on the season and still have a chance in the Conference USA East Division. Last week, ODU quarterback David Washington threw for 416 yards and five touchdowns.

Can FIU slow down the ODU attack? Some, but probably not enough.

Prediction: ODU 34, FIU 16

FAU-Middle Tennessee

FAU is 3-8, and will be a solid underdog against the Blue Raiders. FAU is giving up almost 500 yards per game.

Prediction: Middle Tennessee 35, FAU 10

The Pros

Jags at Bills

You keep waiting for Jacksonville to prove it’s better than its record. But is it? The Jags keep finding ways to lose, and quarterback Blake Bortles has been unable to do anything about it.

Prediction: Buffalo 27, Jacksonville 14

49ers at Dolphins

San Francisco is a mess, while Miami has quietly righted the ship and snuck back into playoff contention. The Dolphins’ defense won’t give up a lot to San Francisco, and Jay Ajayi should have a good day.

Prediction: Miami 31, San Francisco 9

Seattle at Tampa Bay

The Seahawks are playing solid football behind quarterback Russell Wilson, who has a chance at a huge day against a depleted Bucs’ secondary.

Prediction: Seattle 24, Tampa Bay 14

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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