The calendar has switched over to the month of November – and the action continues to heat up on the football field in both South Florida and across the state.
Hard Rock Stadium will be the center of the football world this weekend with a college game on Saturday night that has both ACC and potentially College Football Playoff implications while the NFL will send its Sunday Night Football best to the stadium for an AFC showdown you can only see on NBC 6.
Here’s a preview of all the action this weekend involving teams from across the Sunshine State.
Miami Dolphins vs. Oakland Raiders
This is a game that, for much of the 1970s and 80s, was one of the best in all of the NFL – and at the start of the season, it felt like it was going to be that way with both teams having Super Bowl aspirations. Now, with the Dolphins getting shutout last game and the Raiders limping in at 3-5, some of the luster has been taken off but the Sunday Night lights should being them back.
After Miami traded starting running back Jay Ajayi earlier this week, some are wondering what head coach Adam Gase and the front office have in store for the rest of the season. The Dolphins still have one of the better defense in the NFL, so their goal in this one will be putting as much pressure as possible on Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.
Miami Hurricanes vs. Virginia Tech Hokies
One day before the Dolphins are in the spotlight, South Florida’s top 10 ranked college program takes the field in what is the first of two straight games that will decide whether this season ends with a potential conference crown and playoff appearance or a late season collapse. Head coach Mark Richt has his team undefeated entering the month of November for the first time since 2013.
At the same time, the Canes are getting a lot of love from many of the experts considering they have beaten just two teams with a winning record at this point. This game, and next week at home against Notre Dame, will go a long way as far as telling us whether the Hurricanes are “back” as one of the elite teams in college football.
Florida State Seminoles vs. Syracuse Orange
After getting humiliated on the road last week against Boston College, the Noles sit with a record of 2-5 and – with just four scheduled regular season games left – need to win out if they want to extend the nation’s longest bowl streak and avoid their first losing season since 1976.
Right now, not a lot seems to be going right for FSU but they have the playmakers who can pull out a much needed win. They will need a standout performance from freshman running back Cam Akers and their defense, which has given up 24 points or more in five of their seven games this season.
Florida Gators at Missouri Tigers
It was a week of change for the men in Gainesville, as head coach Jim McElwain was let go following an embarrassing loss to the rival Georgia Bulldogs. Now, the Gators will be led by interim head coach Randy Shannon – yes, the former Miami Hurricanes linebacker, defensive coordinator and eventual head coach.
One of Shannon’s first moves was to re-open the quarterback competition, naming Malik Zaire as the starter for this week’s game. The Notre Dame transfer played in just two games this season and backed up redshirt freshman Feliepe Franks, who showed moments of greatness but has struggled most of the time.
FIU Panthers vs. UTSA Roadrunners
Don’t look now, but first year head coach Butch Davis has the men from Southwest Miami-Dade just one game away from being bowl eligible and still in the running for a trip to the Conference USA title game this December.
This game starts a stretch where FIU will play four of their last five games at home, which could be the difference between playing for a title and watching from home.
Other State Games
The FAU Owls, also just one game from bowl eligibility under first year head coach Lane Kiffin, host Marshall in the first of four straight conference games to end the season. UCF, one of the five remaining unbeaten teams in the country, travels to take on SMU while the South Florida Bulls look to bounce back from their first loss of the season last week when they face Connecticut.
The FAMU Rattlers will host Howard while Bethune-Cookman will face off with Morgan State.
In the NFL, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will hit the road against the New Orleans Saints looking to break a four game losing streak while the Jacksonville Jaguars return from the bye week to host the Cincinnati Bengals.