Fans in South Florida aren’t going to have to wait until Sunday to catch the suddenly hot Miami Dolphins in action as the team hits the road for the first of two straight nationally televised games that could help shape their surging playoff hopes.
At the same time, the college slate across the state includes a top 10 team from South Florida looking to avoid a possible trap game, while the two other state powers leave home for what could only be defined as must win games on the road against conference foes they have had recent success against.
Here’s a preview of all the action with Sunshine State teams this week and weekend.
Miami Dolphins at Baltimore Ravens (Thursday)
A Miami team who started the season with a 1-2 record has suddenly won their last three games and look like a team who can make the playoffs for a second straight season. Of course, they will now have to do it at least for one week with starting quarterback Jay Cutler, who will miss Thursday’s game with an injury suffered in last week’s win over the New York Jets.
In his place will be Matt Moore, who will be facing a Ravens team that has lost three of their last four games and looks lost on offense of late. The Fins haven’t had much luck against their foes in purple, as the Ravens have won seven of their nine meetings – including a blowout win in December 2016.
Miami Hurricanes at North Carolina Tar Heels
Right now, the Canes sit as a top 10 team and have already qualified for a bowl game this season – but with two comeback wins and a nailbitter in their last game, head coach Mark Richt knows his team has to play better and more complete if they want any chance of winning the ACC for the first time and make it to the College Football Playoff.
On paper, this should be an easy win for Miami as they face a UNC team who has won just one game on the season and got blown out last week by Virginia Tech. However, the Tar Heels have won three of the last five meetings and two straight, so you can bet the Hurricanes will not be looking past this one.
Florida Gators vs. Georgia Bulldogs (in Jacksonville)
The longstanding rivals meet again in North Florida, with the Bulldogs ranked third in the country and on a path that could take them into the College Football Playoff. Standing in their way is a 3-3 Gators team that is in panic mode, but has also won 21 of the last 27 games in this series.
The Gators have not won a game since September 30th thanks to two straight losses followed by last week’s bye, so head coach Jim McElwain is eager to get his team back on the field and hope the recent success against the bitter rivals from Athens, GA continues for at least another season.
Florida State Seminoles at Boston College Eagles (Friday)
After another last second loss at home, the Noles have their worst record in decades (2-4) through six games and are in serious dangers of not making a bowl game for the first time since 1981 and having a losing season for the first time since 1976.
The Seminoles will rely heavily on their run game in this one, with freshman star Cam Akers hoping to take advantage of facing an Eagles team with the 123rd ranked run defense in the country out of 130 teams playing in the FBS level.
Florida International Panthers at Marshall Thundering Herd
After getting blown out in their opener, the Panthers have won four of their last five games and have a shot at winning the Conference USA East Division this season. A win over the Herd would give the Panthers an edge in the standings and set up a possible winner take all game against rival FAU later this season.
Other State Games
Both USF and UCF will look to stay unbeaten as the Bulls host Houston this week while the Knights take on Austin Peay in a makeup game for one cancelled earlier this season due to Hurricane Irma. The FAMU Rattlers will travel to Baltimore to take on Morgan State, while Florida Atlantic will travel to take on Western Kentucky.
In the NFL, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers look to break their three game losing streak when they face the Carolina Panthers at home, while the Jacksonville Jagaurs are on a bye week as one of the league’s surprising teams with a 4-3 record.