NBC 6 Weekend Football Preview: When Rivals Collide

Despite a slight scare from Tropical Storm Nate and the fear of yet another possible postponement, one of the best college football rivalry games over the last three decades takes center stage in the state of Florida with the weekend’s football slate.

While most of the state will be paying attention to the battle between Miami and Florida State, another one of the week’s big games will take place in Gainesville as the Florida Gators open up the meat of their SEC schedule – while on Sunday, the Miami Dolphins will finally play their first home game of the season trying to rebound from two less than stellar offensive showings.

Here’s a look at how the top action ranks this week on a scale of one to four peacocks.

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Miami at Florida State

On paper, it looks like a mismatch as the undefeated and No. 12 ranked Hurricanes head to Tallahassee for face a 1-2 Seminoles squad that had to work harder than expected to get that first win last weekend against Wake Forest. But fans of both schools know that in this rivalry that dates back to the 1951 season, records and ranking don’t mean anything.

If the Canes are going to break their seven game losing streak to the Noles, Miami will have to give Florida State a healthy dose of Mark Walton at running back. The FSU defense had moments of brilliance in the opener against Alabama, so they know how to play against quality opponents – the question will be can they do it for a complete game in this showdown that could make or break their season.

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BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 19: Antonio Callaway #81 of the Florida Gators runs with the ball as Tre'Davious White #18 of the LSU Tigers defends during the first half of a game at Tiger Stadium on November 19, 2016 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

LSU at Florida

For a team with an offense that has been near the bottom of college football for much of the last three seasons, the Gators have won the last three games – all against SEC East foes that have them at the top of the division. Florida will go back to Feliepe Franks at quarterback, who started the season before being replaced by Luke Del Rio. Thanks to an injury in the last game, Del Rio will spend the rest of the season on the sideline.

At the start of the season, this looked like it would be one of the toughest games on the schedule for Florida. Now, with LSU getting blown out by Mississippi State and losing to Troy last weekend, the Tigers are reeling and ripe for another loss at the hands of the Gators.

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MIAMI, FL - OCTOBER 29: Jonnu Smith #87 of the Florida International Golden Panthers runs for a touchdown past the attempted tackle by Darryl Randolph #29 of the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders on October 29, 2016 at FIU Stadium in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

FIU at Middle Tennessee State

Don’t look now, but after getting blown out in their season opener against UCF, the Panthers are 3-1 and sitting in first place in the Conference USA East Division. This will be a much tougher game against a Blue Raiders team that has a win over a Power Five team this season (Syracuse) and is better than their 3-2 record would indicate.

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Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins

For the first time this season, the men in aqua will be playing inside Hard Rock Stadium after their opener was postponed due to Hurricane Irma and their second “home game” was a shutout loss last weekend against the New Orleans Saints in London.

For Miami, the problem has clearly been identified as the offensive side of the ball. Head coach Adam Gase has not held back his displeasure with that unit’s performance this season – something that has gotten national attention since the team brought in a former Gase quarterback, Jay Cutler, thinking things were going to go well.

On the Tennessee side, the Titans may be without their starting quarterback, Marcus Mariota, who led them to a blowout win over the Dolphins last season.

Other State Games

The Florida Atlantic Owls, sitting at 2-3 on the season, continue Conference USA play when they head to Norfolk, Virginia for a game against the Old Dominion Monarchs. The No. 25 ranked UCF Knights hit the road for a conference game against the Cincinnati Bearcats.

In the NFL, the Jacksonville Jaguars hit the road for maybe their toughest test of the early 2017 season when they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers – a team coming off of a convincing win last weekend and considered one of the top AFC contenders this season.

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