2020 season

NBC 6 (Early) Weekend Football Preview: Sunshine State Battles in Full Effect

It won’t be like years past when the ‘Canes and ‘Noles meet this weekend, but fans of both teams know that it still is the game of the year

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It comes around once, maybe twice in an entire football season. It’s the time when the Sunshine State is divided and bragging rights are on the line - because when the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars meet, anything goes!

Oh yeah…there is also this little college football game taking place Saturday inside of Hard Rock Stadium that, at one point, was the biggest game in the sport for decades at a time.

It won’t be like years past when the ‘Canes and ‘Noles meet this weekend, but fans of both teams know that it still is the game of the year when it comes to being the top team in the state - in a season where neither team will face anyone else from the Sunshine State in the regular season.

At the same time, some of the state’s other FBS teams get their pandemic shortened seasons underway including one with hopes of making their first appearance in the College Football Playoff.

Here’s a complete preview of all this week’s action as we break it all down with NBC 6's not-so-scientific ranking system.

MIAMI, FL - AUGUST 22: Miami Dolphins get ready to punt the ball during the preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at Hard Rock Stadium on August 22, 2019 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

Miami Dolphins at Jacksonville Jaguars (Thursday)

It’s not a shock that the Dolphins enter this game with a 0-2 record on the season. What’s shocking for many fans is that head coach Brian Flores still seems to be sticking with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback and holding off on the temptation to start rookie Tua Tagovailoa - mostly because Fitzpatrick hasn’t been the problem, but it's more the awful play of the defense to start the season.

With an upcoming schedule featuring some of the league’s top teams, including one that played in Super Bowl LIV to end last season inside Hard Rock Stadium, this might be the Dolphins’ best chance to get their first win before staring down the barrel of another losing season.

Jacksonville won’t be as much of a push over as some might have expected, coming into the game 1-1 and just a field goal away from being one of the NFL’s unbeaten teams.

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - SEPTEMBER 26: Navaughn Donaldson #55 of the Miami Hurricanes and Marvin Wilson #21 of the Florida State Seminoles have words during second quarter action on September 26, 2018 at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. Miami defeated Florida State 28-27. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Miami Hurricanes vs. Florida State Seminoles (Saturday)

For the 65th time, the hated rivals will meet on the field as the ‘Canes enter the game with their highest ranking since the start of the 2018 season. With a 2-0 record, Miami is the clear favorite in this game against a Seminoles team who was upset in their season opener and will be without first year head coach Mike Norvell, who tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

Miami’s 27-10 victory last season was the biggest margin of victory in the series since the 2013 game, where FSU won by 27 points on their way to the school’s third national title. Oddsmakers aren’t going to like it, but anyone who knows this game could come down to the final play and maybe the final kick - words that makes fans of the Seminoles cringe.

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FIU Panthers at Liberty Flames (Saturday)

For the first time this season thanks to game cancellations amid the pandemic, the Panthers take the field coming off a season that included a third straight bowl game and a monumental win over Miami - but also ended with a losing record.

Head coach Butch Davis will take FIU into the game after losing their starting quarterback, running back and top receiver to graduation against a Flames team that is ripe to get their second win of the season.

Other State Games

The No. 5 ranked Florida Gators will take the field for the first time this season on the road when they face head coach Lane Kiffin in his debut with the Ole Miss Rebels.

The FAU Owls will not hold their season opener at home against the USF Bulls after the game was canceled due to coronavirus concerns. In the NAIA level, St. Thomas stays at home to face Keiser while Florida Memorial is on the road when they take in Webber International.

In the pro game, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hit the road after getting their first win of the Tom Brady era last weekend when they travel to Denver to take on the Broncos.

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