Our weekly college football gameday guide begins with the most interesting story in the state — USF’s ongoing coaching search. Here are a few names Bulls fans should monitor this weekend:
Coastal Carolina coach Jamey Chadwell: His offense is one of the most exciting in the country but won’t look as sharp this week against Southern Miss, as star quarterback Grayson McCall is out with a foot injury. If Chadwell doesn’t get a Power Five offer, USF could double his salary ($850,000 last year).
Indiana coach Tom Allen: The former USF assistant (and Hillsborough County high school coach) takes a six-game losing streak into No. 2 Ohio State. USF would be an excellent landing spot for him, if he needs an exit strategy.
Penn State co-offensive coordinator Ja’Juan Seider: The Belle Glade native and former Gators assistant coaches one of the nation’s top freshman running backs, Nicholas Singleton, and should be able to put up good numbers against a mediocre Maryland defense.
Florida A&M coach Willie Simmons: He told the Tallahassee Democrat this week he hasn’t “heard any rumblings or gotten any contract” from USF, but he’d be an attractive candidate. His Rattlers have won seven in a row entering Saturday’s game at Alabama State.
Mississippi running backs coach Marquel Blackwell: The St. Petersburg native starred for the Bulls and has spent time on staff at USF, Freedom High, Lakewood High and Florida before climbing his way to SEC position coach. He’s a key part in a top-10 rushing attack that will try to knock off No. 10 Alabama.
Lamest time window: Early. This fine slate is backloaded.
Noon: No. 7 LSU is the SEC West frontrunner but has a tricky trip to Arkansas (ESPN). I’m also curious to see whether the coaching changes help USF’s defense find a way to stop SMU (ESPNU), which scored a mere 77 points last week.
3:30: No. 10 Alabama needs to beat No. 11 Mississippi (CBS) to avoid its first three-loss season since 2010, while No. 22 UCF at No. 16 Tulane (ESPN2) is one of the biggest Group of Five games of the year.
4: South Carolina will show us whether Florida’s defense turned a corner last week or if Jimbo Fisher’s Aggies are just that bad (SEC Network).
7: Washington quarterback Michael Penix (Tampa Bay Tech) will try to help his No. 24 Huskies dash the playoff hopes of No. 6 Oregon (Fox).
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7:30: No. 4 TCU’s perfect season is on the line at No. 18 Texas (ABC).
8: No. 25 Florida State looks to improve to 13-2 all-time against Syracuse (ACC Network).
10:30: No. 9 UCLA is playing its first home game as a top-10 team (according to the Associated Press poll) in seven years, against Arizona (Fox).
Interim coach bounce
We don’t know how USF will react on the field to interim coach Daniel Da Prato, but a few teams have gotten quick boosts from interim coaches:
Auburn: Former Bucs first-round pick Cadillac Williams didn’t win his Tigers debut last week, but he did take Mississippi State to overtime on the road.
Colorado: After an 0-5 start that led to Karl Dorrell’s firing, the Buffaloes stormed the field to celebrate a 20-13 win over Cal in Mike Sanford’s debut.
Charlotte: Six days after the 1-7 team dismissed Will Healy, Pete Rossomando led the 49ers to a 56-23 victory at Rice in his first game.
Wisconsin: The Badgers have gone from 2-3 to 5-4 under Jim Leonhard, who’s making a strong case for the full-time job.
Georgia Tech: Former UCF assistant Brent Key led the Yellow Jackets to back-to-back wins after they fired Geoff Collins. A win Saturday over Miami would improve Key to 4-2.
“One of our main goals is to have some fun, right? And I’ll be honest: The best way to spell fun is w-i-n. But we’re going to have some fun every single day, every single second …” — USF interim coach Daniel Da Prato on how the Bulls are approaching the final three weeks
Dome, sweet dome?
Florida State will try to keep Syracuse from making history. An Orange victory would be the team’s sixth at home this weekend — something they’ve done only twice this century and five times since World War II. FSU is 3-1 away from home after thumping the Hurricanes at Hard Rock Stadium. The Seminoles are 5-2 all time at Syracuse but lost their last meeting (30-7 in 2018).
Local of the week
Florida International running back EJ Wilson (Armwood High)
The Panthers’ No. 2 rusher, Wilson scored his second touchdown of the season last week against North Texas. He’ll try to lead FIU to its first win over rival Florida Atlantic since 2016 in a game that means a lot to the trajectory of third-year Owls coach Willie Taggart.
Aside from TCU’s playoff hopes, the most interesting angle to its game at Texas centers on Gary Patterson. The Horned Frogs have a statue of him in front of their stadium but pushed him out last season. His current role: special assistant to the head coach at Texas. Think he’s not fired up for the chance to help beat his former team?
By the numbers: Week 11
1949 — The last time Tulane hosted a matchup of top-25 teams before UCF’s visit
69 — Plays of at least 20 yards by FSU (most in the nation)
13-13 — All-time record for Miami against Georgia Tech
293 — Rushing yards for Central Michigan quarterback Bert Emanuel Jr. on Wednesday in only the second career game for the son of the former Bucs receiver
2011 — The last time Clemson lost back-to-back games in the same season. The No. 12 Tigers hope to avoid that Saturday by beating Louisville
35 — Rushing yards needed by Syracuse’s Sean Tucker to move past Hall of Famer Larry Csonka (2,934) for fourth-most in program history
385 — Points Oregon has scored in its eight-game winning streak since a season-opening 49-3 loss to Georgia
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