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College roundup: Cook leads FSU in narrow victory over Miami

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Is that hamstring well enough for you?

Dalvin Cook, questioned all week because the health of his left leg, passed all tests Saturday night as he ran past the University of Miami. The Seminoles sputtered at times, and they trailed in the fourth period, but they played well enough for a 29-24 victory.

Cook ran for 222 yards and scored three times — a 72-yard run, a 36-yard reception and the winning score, a 23-yard run. At one point, he slowed as if he felt a twinge, but it was evidently just cramps.

Everett Golson hit 25 of 33 passes — including his first nine — for 291 yards.

Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya was almost equal to them both. Kaaya hit 29 of 49 passes for 405 yards. But the Canes rushed for only 20 yards on 19 tries as a team. For UM, Stacey Coley caught seven passes for 139 yards and Rashawn Scott caught six for 108.

FSU’s Kermit Whitfield caught nine for 95.

Tyler Hunter led the Seminoles defense with eight tackles.

FSU is home next week against Louisville. Miami is home against Virginia Tech.

Florida 21, Missouri 3: Let the debate continue about the quarterbacks at the University of Florida.

The Gators’ defensive players will simply nod and smile.

The defense of the Gators remains the backbone of the Florida team that ran its record to 6-0 Saturday night, smothering the Missouri Tigers in a 21-3 victory. Missouri gained only 151 yards passing and only 106 rushing. The Gators defense even scored enough points to win the game when defensive back Jalen Tabor returned an interception 40 yards for his second pick-six of the year.

Missouri converted only one third down the entire night, that coming after the Tigers missed on their first 13 tries.

Florida didn’t have a lot of offense itself, particularly after it took a big lead. Quarterback Will Grier hit 20 of 33 passes for 208 yards, and Kelvin Taylor had 99 yards on the ground.

USF 45, Syracuse 24: As a program, USF has had bigger wins over more highly regarded opponents in better seasons.

But not lately.

The Bulls pulled away from Syracuse to take a 45-24 victory, its first win over a Power Five conference under coach Willie Taggart. Running back Marlon Mack had 181 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries for USF.

“We told Marlon, we’d love to get him at least 20 carries a game. We did that today and he took advantage of it,” Taggart said.

USF led 24-3, but Syracuse made a bit of a comeback and closed to win 31-24, but USF scored the game’s final two touchdowns to win. The Bulls’ Quinton Flowers hit 15 of 22 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns. One of his passes was a reverse flea-flicker where Flowers threw to Ryeshene Bronson for a 42-yard score.

“I told our guys, we’re not going leave anything on the play call sheet. I’m going to let it rip and I want ya’ll to let it rip,” Taggart said. “That was a play we had in our arsenal and we said if we got to a certain point on the field, we’re going to run it. We did and our guys executed it well.”

For the game, USF was able to outgain Syracuse 276-73 on the ground. The Bulls’ defense ended the game with 10 tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries and only two plays of more than 20 yards.

“I thought our young pups took a big step for our program,” Taggart said. “They’re starting to grow up and it was really good to see.”

USF next plays at UConn, which won a big game over Central Florida Saturday.

UConn 40, UCF 13: Yeah, this is how bad it has gotten.

The UCF Knights fell to 0-6 on the season by losing a lopsided game to a weak UConn opponent. As bad as this season has been, UConn looked as if it was bad enough to hang with. After all, the Huskies had won only 10 games the previous three seasons (UCF had won 31).

But UCF couldn’t get out of its own way. It started to return a kickoff at one point, then the returner stopped and knelt down for a safety. Throw in dropped passes and three interceptions thrown by quarterback Justin Holman, who played for the first time since the loss to Stanford.

UConn outscored UCF 31-0 in the second and third periods to take a 40-3 lead.

Holman threw for 255 yards, but it took him 50 attempts to get there. Three of his passers were intercepted.

For UConn, Bryant Shirreffs threw for 256 yards.

FIU 52, UTEP 12: Alex McGough led Florida International to a surprisingly easy route back to .500 Saturday afternoon.

McGough hit 13 of 17 passes for a career high 270 yards and two touchdowns, leading his FIU Panthers to an easy victory over UTEP. McGough had been held to 155 yards throwing in a loss to previously winless UMass last week.

The Panthers took a 35-0 lead early in the second period. FIU totaled 518 yards, including 368 through the air. UTEP, by comparison, had only 117.

For FIU, Alex Gardner had 56 yards rushing and 96 yards receiving.

FIU, now 3-3, plays Middle Tennessee next week.

Rice 27, FAU 26: Blame this on the weather.

Or, rather, if you are the FAU Owls, you can blame it on a 1 ½ hour delay because of lightning.

When the delay came, FAU had just scored to go ahead 26-14 in the game, and things seemed to be well in hand. But after the teams came back, FAU missed on a two-point conversion try. And then Rice took over.

Quarterback Driphus Jackson brought Rice within 26-21 when he ran in a 21-yard keeper. Then, with 2:07 left, he culminated an 83-yard drive when he hit Darek Dillard with a 14-yard touchdown with 2:07 to play.

FAU drove to the Rice 41, but quarterback Jaquez Johnson was sacked on fourth-and-five to ensure Rice’s win.

For the game, Jackson hit 22 of 34 passes for 284 yards and three touchdowns. Johnson hit 15 of 29 for 249 yards and two scores.

Dillard rushed for 106 yards for Rice. Kamrin Solomon caught a 94-yard touchdown pass for FAU.

FAU plays Marshall at home on Saturday.

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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