As USF’s coaching search continues, our weekly gameday guide begins with a fresh look at five names to know in this coaching carousel, which will speed into high gear after this weekend:
1. Mississippi coach Lane Kiffin: Industry speculation bills him as a potential fit at Auburn. The chatter will end — one way or another — soon after his season ended in Thursday’s Egg Bowl.
2. Oregon offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham: The former Florida State assistant reportedly has talked with Arizona State about its opening. With a win over the Beavers, he’ll get one more opportunity to boost his resume (next week’s Pac-12 title game).
3. Florida Atlantic coach Willie Taggart: The former FSU and USF head coach is 15-17 with the Owls and needs to beat his alma mater, Western Kentucky, Saturday to get to bowl eligibility — and probably save his job.
4. Coastal Carolina coach Jamey Chadwell: Saturday’s game against a tough James Madison team is another chance for Chadwell to show what he can do without star quarterback Grayson McCall. He’s a potential match for USF, among others.
5. Indiana coach Tom Allen: Perhaps the Hoosiers’ win over Michigan State earned him another year. If not, beating rival Purdue almost certainly will. The former USF assistant would be a logical target for the Bulls if Allen is fired or negotiates an exit package.
Lamest time window: None. Friday and Saturday have enticing games at every slot. Enjoy the last full weekend.
Noon: No. 19 Tulane at No. 21 Cincinnati (ABC) is the Group of Five game of the year and decides who hosts next week’s AAC championship.
3:30: No. 18 North Carolina will try to improve to 26-2 in its last 28 in-state games under Mack Brown by beating North Carolina State (ABC).
7:30: No. 16 Florida State is one of the hottest teams in the nation, but the Gators won’t be a pushover (ABC).
Noon: No. 3 Michigan faces No. 2 Ohio State (Fox) for the rivalry’s third top-three matchup ever.
3:30: Auburn at No. 8 Alabama (CBS) has the better history, but No. 10 Oregon at No. 22 Oregon State (ABC) should be the better game.
4: Will No. 4 TCU keep its storybook season going by beating Iowa State (Fox)?
7: The final USF-UCF game (ESPN2) — for a while, at least — gets top billing here over the merciful end to Jimbo Fisher’s season of misery against No. 6 LSU (ESPN).
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7:30: It’s nice to have the rivalry between No. 13 Notre Dame and No. 5 USC (ABC) matter again.
10:30: The Apple Cup between No. 12 Washington and Washington State (ESPN) is a fun way to end the weekend.
Stat of the week
USF is 5-0 against UCF on Saturday games, while the Knights are 7-0 against the Bulls on Fridays. USF also won the only Thursday game in the series.
Ohio State-Michigan features contrasting styles. The Wolverines are built like a traditional Big Ten team with power and a strong run game. The Buckeyes are better passers and thrive on explosive plays. One key will be how the (relative) weaknesses match up. Can Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy make enough big plays to lead the Wolverines to a win? Or can Ohio State’s banged-up running backs gash Michigan’s defense?
Local of the week
USC receiver Mario Williams (Plant City High)
The former top-50 overall recruit missed a month with a hamstring injury before returning last week in the win over UCLA. If he’s closer to full strength, Williams will be another weapon for a high-powered offense to use against Notre Dame’s top-20 passing defense.
Orange Bowl odds
Florida State has a narrow but feasible path to its first New Year’s Six bowl game since 2016. If Clemson makes the playoff, the Seminoles will likely be the ACC’s next-best team and earn a spot in the Orange Bowl. Here’s what FSU fans should root for (other than a win over Florida):
• Clemson to beat South Carolina this week and North Carolina in next week’s ACC title game.
• Ohio State to beat Michigan (preferably by a lot), because a one-loss ACC champion Clemson should trump one-loss Michigan.
• USC to lose to Notre Dame, because the Irish also beat Clemson. TCU losing a game or two wouldn’t hurt, either.
• LSU to lose to Georgia in next week’s SEC championship.
“I almost feel sorry for Tennessee. They’re not going to win the division, they’re not going to win the SEC, they’re not going to get in that final four. They’re just going to have a little bit better than average year now. Someone told me, ‘Tennessee is probably headed for the Citrus Bowl now.’” — Gators legend Steve Spurrier, to the The Post and Courier
“I didn’t even know who they were until I came here. Now you hate them because just being a Florida Gator you don’t want to lose to them.” — Gators punter and Australia native Jeremy Crawshaw on FSU
By the numbers: Week 13
4 — Consecutive 100-rushing yard games for USF’s Brian Battie. A fifth would tie him with Marlon Mack, Quinton Flowers and Jordan Cronkrite for the longest streak in Bulls history.
12 — Different FSU players with a touchdown catch this season, the program’s most since 1982.
5 — Quarterback hurries by Michigan edge rusher Jaylen Harrell (Berkeley Prep), most on the team.
103 — Points scored by Ohio State kicker Noah Ruggles (Steinbrenner High).
0 — Teams to play in four consecutive Pac-12 title games, which Oregon can accomplish with a win.
7 — Consecutive times No. 7 Clemson has beaten in-state rival South Carolina.
31 — Times (in 32 games) Tulane quarterback Michael Pratt has thrown at least one touchdown pass.
2007 — The last time Kansas beat Kansas State on the road.
1975 — The last time a team won seven consecutive games by 10 or fewer points until TCU this season.
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