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What to watch in Florida vs. Vanderbilt and FSU vs. Sam Howell’s Tar Heels

Our weekly college football gameday guide has juicy nuggets on this weekend’s state games.
The Florida Gators' special teams haven't been great this year. The Vanderbilt game is a chance to change that.
The Florida Gators' special teams haven't been great this year. The Vanderbilt game is a chance to change that. [ JOHN RAOUX | AP ]
Published Oct. 7

Even if the No. 20 Florida Gators destroy Vanderbilt (which is likely), you can still learn something from their performance on special teams.

UF has been shaky in that phase, from a costly missed extra point against Alabama to the disastrous blocked field goal at Kentucky. Will UF be able to spring a big play off Vanderbilt’s bad coverage units?

Related: Can Florida Gators’ Dan Mullen win a title? Or is he UF’s Mark Richt?

Audible

“It’s about six inches between a pat on the back and a kick in the rear end.” — UF coach Dan Mullen on how his Gators have responded from the Kentucky loss

Eye on the NFL draft

Former FSU commit Sam Howell hasn't dominated but is still one of the top quarterback prospects eligible for the next NFL draft.
Former FSU commit Sam Howell hasn't dominated but is still one of the top quarterback prospects eligible for the next NFL draft. [ GERRY BROOME | AP ]

One of the state’s most intriguing hypotheticals is this: What if Sam Howell had kept his longtime FSU commitment and signed with Willie Taggart instead of choosing North Carolina? Alas, we’ll never know. Instead we can watch the former blue-chip recruit and current early-round NFL draft prospect face an FSU defense that has allowed an ACC-worst 11 passing touchdowns.

Related: Florida State football looks to build on one win with another. Finally.

Move over, Charlie Ward

Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis had a career day in last week's win over Syracuse.
Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis had a career day in last week's win over Syracuse. [ DENNIS NETT | Syracuse.com ]

Jordan Travis is not Sam Howell, but he made FSU history when he led the Seminoles to their win over Syracuse last week. His career-high 113 rushing yards gave him 932 for his career. That passed the legendary Charlie Ward (889) for the most career rushing yards ever by an FSU quarterback. Travis could be in for another big performance against a Tar Heels defense that gave up 128 rushing yards and three touchdowns earlier this season to Georgia Tech quarterback Jeff Sims (another former Seminoles commit).

Knightmare scenario

With a loss to East Carolina, UCF would fall to 2-3 and have a losing record for the first time since the end of the 2016 season. Though the Knights are favored, this game has upset potential. The Pirates have won three in a row and are competent for the first time in years, while UCF looked shaky in last week’s loss to previously winless Navy.

By the numbers: Week 6

After hurdling Florida last week, Kentucky is looking to build on a great start by knocking off LSU.
After hurdling Florida last week, Kentucky is looking to build on a great start by knocking off LSU. [ TIMOTHY D. EASLEY | AP ]

1950 The last time Kentucky started 6-0. The Wildcats can do so with a win over LSU in a game UF fans should be monitoring

1985 The last time Iowa hosted a top-five matchup. The No. 1 Hawkeyes beat No. 2 Michigan 12-10.

19 Times UCF has played East Carolina, its most games against any opponent. The Pirates hold a 10-9 edge in the series.

13 Consecutive wins for Oklahoma, including last year’s Cotton Bowl triumph over UF. It’s the 10th time in Sooners history that they’ve won at least 13 in a row.

8 Home wins in a row for Florida A&M, which should make it nine against South Carolina State.

5 Years since Boise State lost back-to-back games. That streak is in jeopardy as the Broncos travel to No. 10 BYU.

3 Statues to be dedicated at Auburn. Two are for stadium namesakes Shug Jordan and Dean Cliff Hare, and the third is for former coach Pat Dye.

7 Shutouts for Georgia under Kirby Smart, including back-to-back wins against Arkansas and Vanderbilt.

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