The state of football in the state of Florida changed dramatically over the offseason with three new coaches coming to Florida, UCF and FSU. Almost halfway through the season, the three programs could not be in more different places.
Florida fans, you have to like where your program is at after a thrilling home win over LSU to take the Gators to 5-1. All of a sudden, the Gators are a contender in the SEC East. It’s a long way from just weeks ago when Florida was run over by Kentucky and gave up 303 rushing yards. Florida’s defense had been its calling card during the Will Muschamp and Jim McElwain eras and it seems like the cupboard is not completely bare there. An interception return for a touchdown sealed the deal for the Gators and the crowd provided that big game atmosphere that has disappeared in recent years the Swamp. Dr. Synan has a diagnosis for the Gators. Your condition is improving, and you may return to work. Expect the occasional setback as you work your way back to full health.
At UCF, expectations were high even though well regarded Coach Scott Frost left for Nebraska. UCF brought in former Missouri Offensive Coordinator Josh Heupel and people were not sure what to think. Would UCF get the brilliant OC that led Missouri to a top 10 offense or the bumbling OC at Oklahoma that got canned in favor of Lincoln Riley? The answer is clear as UCF is rolling. This school deserves the respect they are finally getting from the national media and pollsters after again putting up 40 plus points in a decisive win. Not only is UCF undefeated, none of their opponents has even been competitive against them. Have they reached their ceiling in the polls? Maybe but it should not diminish what is going to be another year of exceeding expectations for the Knights. Dr. Synan’s prognosis? Whoever called UCF sick without Scott Frost gave you a misdiagnosis. Return to winning immediately and do not expect setbacks.
Finally, the Willie Taggart era at Florida State is off to a rough start. Does it surprise me that FSU took at 27-7 lead over Miami on Saturday? Not really. There are multiple Top 5 recruiting classes at FSU and Miami is an archrival. The Seminoles were talented and fired up and and it showed. Does it surprise me the Seminoles lost 28-27? Not at all. This team lacks important parts of the winning formula, including toughness, togetherness, chemistry, the ability to put bad plays behind them and most of all, a coach that can make the necessary adjustments to put the team over the top. A series of boneheaded turnovers and dumb plays doomed the Seminoles in the fourth quarter. I’ll repeat my warning to Seminole fans: Willie Taggart is historically terrible in his first two years at a program but then turns it around in a remarkable way. Dr Synan’s diagnosis for FSU is a tough one. We are checking you back into the hospital for further observation and things may get worse before they get better.
One quick note on the rankings: it’s difficult to figure out which one loss team should be ranked where. For example, how could you have LSU ahead of a Florida team that just beat them? The answer, for me, is all about which team you lost to. I believe teams should be penalized more for losing to inferior teams than they should for losing to a good one. It’s not the perfect answer but there are none in college football and that makes it my favorite sport. Let’s argue about it.
Top 25 for the Week Beginning October 7
- Notre Dame (6-0) The Irish have already beaten Michigan, Stanford and won at Virginia Tech.
- Alabama (6-0) Third stringers gave up some points to Arkansas. It didn’t matter.
- Ohio State (6-0) Wins at Penn State and at TCU are still impressive.
- Clemson (6-0) Finally dominated a team the way they should with a 63-3 win over Wake Forest.
- Georgia (6-0) Now they’ve beaten Vanderbilt too. So what?
- West Virginia (5-0) Feel the same way about them as I do about UGA and UCF. Beat someone already.
- UCF (6-0) Rolled another completely inferior AAC team.
- LSU (5-1) Still have wins over Miami and at Auburn.
- Texas (5-1) Yes, the Maryland loss stinks but the Longhorns also beat TCU, Oklahoma, and USC.
- Colorado (5-0) Arizona State a decent, but not great, win.
- Kentucky (5-1) Wildcat wins over Florida and Mississipi State look better this week.
- Florida (5-1) Don’t expect them to be here at the end of the season.
- South Florida (5-0) Beat both Power 5 schools they played.
- Washington (5-1) Beaten Utah, Arizona State which still better wins than the next four teams on the list.
- NC State (5-0) Boston College better than the other lousy teams they’ve played. Clemson is next.
- Cincinnati (6-0) One loss and they’re out of here.
- Michigan (5-1) Wins are just not impressive.
- Penn State (4-1) See above.
- Wisconsin (4-1) Pretty much the same as the two teams above them.
- Oklahoma (5-1) Maybe the near loss to Army was not a fluke.
- Miami (5-1) Boy, did they try to blow it versus Florida State.
- Oregon (4-1) Most impressive win is over Cal.
- Iowa (4-1) Resume is not horrible but not very good either.
- Auburn (4-2) At least they’ve beaten someone in Washington.
- Washington State (5-1) Only loss is by 3 at Southern Cal.
Reach Mike Synan at Mike.Synan@floridadaily.com.