While no titles can be clinched this weekend and the chances are slim that many could be won in 2020, South Florida could have a chance to see things they haven’t in a LONG time this weekend inside Hard Rock Stadium.
For the Miami Hurricanes, a team that decades ago was the tops in all of college football, a win on Saturday would give them their eighth of the season - a number that what used to be ‘The U’ has reached just four times in the last 10 seasons - but won’t come easy against the third ranked foe they’ve played in 2020.
On Sunday, a win by the Miami Dolphins would give the men in aqua and orange a winning season for just the second time in the last 12 seasons - and a second reason to pop bottles after the Pittsburgh Steelers lost for the first time in 2020. Now they play a team who, the last time they were in South Florida, won Super Bowl 54.
For the FIU Panthers…well, the season is over after their game with Marshall scheduled for Friday was canceled and now the question is whether, after an 0-5 pandemic shortened season, we have seen the last of head coach Butch Davis.
Around the state, one FBS power team looks to prepare for their conference title game next weekend with a final tune up while the other goes for…I can’t believe I have to write this…their third win of the season. Yeah, that one hurt to write.
Like we’ve done all season long, we break it all down with NBC 6’s not-so-scientific ranking system.
Miami Hurricanes vs. North Carolina Tar Heels (Saturday)
While the ‘Canes won’t be playing for an ACC title this season after Clemson’s win last weekend over Virginia Tech, Miami still has a chance - with a convincing win over a ranked Tar Heels team and some help – to possibly play in the Orange Bowl come January 2nd inside their own home stadium.
The turnaround in head coach Manny Diaz’s second season can be attributed to plenty of factors - an actual defense, a kicker that can make field goals, etc. - but much of the credit has to go to transfer quarterback D’Eriq King, who put on a near clinic last week against Duke that included three touchdowns just weeks after he was diagnosed with COVID.
Miami Dolphins vs. Kansas City Chiefs (Sunday)
Don’t look now, but Miami’s comeback win over Cincinnati last weekend (yes, you read that right) kept the Fins in the race for the AFC East crown and, with a win Sunday, would give the Dolphins a 9-4 record and just their second winning season since winning the division in 2008.
Who is standing in the way of that taking place? Oh, just a little team from the state of Missouri who…let us take a look at the record books…oh yeah, WON THE SUPER BOWL LAST FEBRUARY WHEN THE WORLD WAS A MUCH MORE NORMAL PLACE! The Chiefs are in a much different world right now as they come back to South Florida with an 11-1 record and hopes of the opening round bye in the AFC playoffs.
Other State Games
The No. 6 ranked Florida Gators will be at home for the final time this season when they take on defending national champions - and now a 3-5 shell of that team – LSU. Up the road in Tallahassee, the FSU Seminoles look to continue the suffering of alumni like me with their home finale against Duke while the FAU Owls ended their regular season Thursday with a loss against Southern Miss.
In the NFL, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers come off their bye week to host the Minnesota Vikings in a game with NFC playoff implications. At the same time, the Jacksonville Jaguars hope to end their losing streak - already at a team record 11 straight games - when they host the divisional rival Tennessee Titans.