While some football fans across the state of Florida were drowning their sorrows last weekend, most in South Florida was on cloud nine as the Miami Dolphins got their first win of the 2017 season – and the Miami Hurricanes finally ended a long losing streak to their hated rivals.
Now, both teams face challenges from the city of Atlanta this weekend that could go a long way in telling how their season will finish. At the same time, the state’s other college football powers look to avoid back-to-back losses with plenty of tough games left on their schedule.
Here’s a preview of this week’s action and how each game ranks.
Miami Dolphins at Atlanta Falcons
After two straight embarrassing losses away from South Florida, head coach Adam Gase’s team got back on the winning side of things last weekend against Tennessee – but another poor performance by the offense had some in the stands booing quarterback Jay Cutler and chanting for backup Matt Moore to get some reps.
On the other side, the defending NFC champions have a 3-1 record and are coming off the bye week – but the offense, led by quarterback Matt Ryan and running back (and former Miami Central and FSU star) Devonta Freeman, has taken a step back stats wise. If Miami can pull off the road upset, it would go a long way to proving this team can get back to the playoffs.
Miami Hurricanes vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
That big sigh of relief you heard last weekend was fans of “The U” enjoying life after getting a win over rivals Florida State to end a seven game losing streak. At 4-0 on the season, head coach Mark Richt’s team has Miami on the path toward an ACC Coastal Division championship if they can continue to play up to the level of their competition.
Of course, this game against the option offense run by the men from Atlanta will not be easy as Miami is dealing with several injuries – including the loss of star running back Mark Walton, who had surgery on his ankle following the FSU game. The Hurricanes will be looking to avoid a letdown following one of the biggest wins for the program this decade.
Florida State Seminoles at Duke Blue Devils
On the other side of last week’s game, the Seminoles suffered another defeat in a season that has gotten away from them and limp into Durham for a game that becomes a must win if FSU wants any chance of continuing their consecutive bowl streak dating back to 1981.
Quarterback James Blackman has shown continued growth for the Seminoles while their running game gave Miami fits for most of last week’s game. As has been the problem most of the season, the game will be won or lost for Florida State depending on which defense shows up – the one who dominated Miami for most of the game or the one that layed down during the final drives.
Florida Gators at Texas A&M Aggies
Last week, the Gators thought they had a chance to tie LSU late in the game, but a missed extra point gave Florida their second loss of the season with games remaining on the schedule that include the Aggies, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State. As has been the story for most of the year, the defense has continued working hard to bail out the offense.
Luckily, they are playing an Aggies team who hasn’t decided whether they want to be a contender this season or want to play the role of pushover in the SEC West. With a loss to the Gators, head coach Kevin Sumlin could end up on the hot seat yet again.
Other State Games
The FIU Panthers jump back out of conference play for a week when they host the Tulane Green Wave, while Florida A&M will celebrate homecoming this week in Tallahassee when they host North Carolina A&T.
In the NFL, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be out west when they take on the Arizona Cardinals at 4:05 p.m. while the Jacksonville Jaguars will host the Los Angeles Rams at the same time.