Examining Florida-Tennessee, FSU-NIU and the other state college football matchups

MONICA HERNDON   |   TimesFlorida Gators running back Jordan Scarlett (25) carries for 30 yards during the first quarter of the game on September 8, 2018 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla.
MONICA HERNDON | TimesFlorida Gators running back Jordan Scarlett (25) carries for 30 yards during the first quarter of the game on September 8, 2018 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla.
Published September 21 2018
Updated September 21 2018

 

Eye on the NFL draft

At 6-foot-1, 237 pounds, Northern Illinois DE Sutton Smith doesn't have NFL size, but he does have next-level productivity. He ranked in the top four nationally last year in sacks, tackles for loss and fumbles forced/recovered. Florida State's leaky offensive line will give him the chance to add to his highlight reel.

USF defense: All or nothing

When the Bulls' defense attacks and stays in its gaps, it has performed well. USF ranks in the top 11 in sacks (10) and tackles for a loss (29). But when it abandons its principles, it has performed poorly, especially against the run. Only UMass has allowed more rushes of at least 10 yards than the Bulls (32). Expect a good showing against a mediocre East Carolina offense that has been out of routine because of Hurricane Florence.

Butch Davis vs. Miami

Florida International coach Butch Davis will face the Hurricanes (whom he led from 1995-2000) for the fifth time as a head coach. He was 3-1 against Miami at North Carolina, but an upset seems likely. Here's a more realistic goal: Getting FIU to eight wins, which he has done in Year 2 at all three of his previous head coaching stops.

Taggart’s slow start

How Willie Taggart's first three games at Florida State compared to the first three games of his predecessor, Jimbo Fisher:

Willie Taggart (2018)

Preseason rank: 19

Record: 1-2

Yards per play: 5.00

Points per game: 15.3

Yards per play allowed: 5.52

Points per game allowed: 26.7

Jimbo Fisher (2010)

Preseason rank: 20

Record: 2-1

Yards per play: 6.74

Points per game: 35.7

Points per game allowed: 21

Yards per play allowed: 4.25

Run on the Vols

Despite the focus on Mullen and QB Feleipe Franks, one of Florida's biggest keys is its run game. Mullen was 38-6 at Mississippi State when his offense rushed for at least 225 yards. That number might be hard to reach at Tennessee; the Vols are one of only seven teams who haven't allowed a rushing touchdown yet.

By the numbers

119 – Tackles for loss allowed by FSU since the start of 2017 (fifth-worst nationally)

135 – Tackles for loss by Northern Illinois defense since the start of 2017 (fifth most nationally)

149 – All-time wins for USF. A victory over East Carolina would make the Bulls' rise to 150 the fastest ever by a Florida Division I-A program

1994 – The last year Indiana was ranked. That might change if the Hoosiers knock off No. 24 Michigan State

27.6 – Yards per catch by Miami WR Jeff Thomas (first nationally)

 

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