This time, the noise isn’t about the coach who is coming back.
It’s about the quarterbacks who are here.
Yeah, yeah. So Will Muschamp is coming back to Gainesville. Big deal. Muschamp wasn’t especially popular when he worked here.
For Florida, the bigger question is about quarterback Luke Del Rio, who will miss Saturday’s game against South Carolina. In his place is backup Austin Appleby. But what has the Gator faithful interested is the possibility of freshmen Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask, considered the future of the program. The Gators are coming off their worst offensive performance of the season.
Florida is still leading in the SEC East, but the South Carolina and LSU games will determine their fate.
South Carolina has won three straight games with freshman quarterback Jake Bentley. For a change, Muschamp might not be coaching the lesser offense on the field. Still, the Gators are at home, and their defense (now third in the nation) should have success against a freshman.
Prediction: Florida 17, South Carolina 13
Boston College at FSU (Friday)
By now, wouldn’t you have thought there would be more interest in FSU’s season? But the Seminoles were trounced by Louisville, edged by North Carolina and beaten by Clemson. FSU still can win 10 games this season, but it doesn’t bear the mark of anything special.
The Eagles struggle mightily on offense, which should help a defense that has given up too many big plays. Eventually, either Dalvin Cook or Deondre Francois should make enough plays for a comfortable win.
Prediction: FSU 24, Boston College 10
Miami at Virginia
The Hurricanes seem in position for a late-season run that will allow them to feel good about the first year of coach Mark Richt. They still need more talent before they can regain their lost swagger, but you won’t be able to tell against Virginia.
Miami should win handily and become bowl eligible.
Prediction: Miami 30, Virginia 13
USF at Memphis
It’s a trap game for the Bulls. Memphis is much better than you might expect.
The reason? Despite USF’s dazzling offense, the Bulls have to play defense, too. And they do, but not very well. They’re 114th in the nation, and they’ve allowed more than 30 points per game. Quinton Flowers will have to have one of his better games throwing the ball for the Bulls to pull it out in the fourth quarter.
Prediction: USF 28, Memphis 27
Cincinnati at UCF
Everyone agrees with the job that UCF coach Scott Frost has done. But Cincinnati beat the Knights 52-7 last year. That’s a lot of ground to make up.
This year, the UCF secondary is much better. But if Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville can stop cursing out his fans, the Bearcats should win. A warning: It’ll be closer this time.
Prediction: Cincinnati 27, UCF 24
UTEP at FAU
The Owls are coming off a huge victory over Rice. Running back Devin Singletary rushed for 252 yards and quarterback Jeff Driskell threw for 217. Alas, it was against Rice.
FAU lost to UTEP by 10 last year, so the Owls should pay attention. But after 657 yards last week, you’d think that FAU had enough momentum to win this one at home.
Prediction: FAU 20, UTEP 14
Chicago at Tampa Bay
Neither team has been very good this season, but the Bears are coming off a big win against Minnesota. Quarterback Jay Cutler has played well agaist the Bucs through the years. Cutler’s performance will be a big one; the Bucs have struggled against top-flight quarterbacks this year.
For Tampa Bay to win, it has to hope that Doug Martin or Jacquizz Rodgers can play enough to give the Bucs some balance on offense.
Prediction: Bears 21, Bucs 20
Houston at Jacksonville
The Jags played better last week in a loss to Kansas City, but this continues to be one of the biggest disappointment seasons in Jacksonville history. Quarterback Blake Bortles, in particular, has struggled for Jacksonville.
Houston’s Brock Osweiler hasn’t been much better, but he does have the Texans leading the AFC South. That should still be true after Sunday.
Prediction: Houston 23, Jacksonville 17
San Diego at Miami
No, it won’t be a rematch of the classic 1982 game between the teams (the Kellen Winslow game), but it should be entertaining.
The Chargers have played well in spots this year behind quarterback Philip Rivers. Look for a matchup between two excellent backs in San Diego’s Melvin Gordon and Miami’s Jay Ajayi. In the end, however, Rivers should outplay Ryan Tannehill for the win
Prediction: San Diego 27, Miami 20