With the Christmas holiday in the past and both Hanukkah and Kwanza in progress, there is plenty of concern about how to pass the time until the New Year – unless you’re a football fan, because there is plenty of pigskin going on for our Sunshine State teams.
Among the college football world, all three of Florida’s top programs will be playing their bowl games in the coming days – as the Miami Hurricanes fight for a winning season, the Florida Gators make a rare appearance in South Florida and the FSU Seminoles hope to avoid getting soggy in their bowl (I’ll explain in a moment).
In the pro game…well, the best thing for the Miami Dolphins is that the misery of 2019 is almost over as they head to face a team they haven’t beaten at their house since George W. Bush was the President.
Of course, for the final time in 2019, we rank the games using our NBC 6 not-so-scientific system.
Miami Hurricanes vs. Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (Thursday)
If you’re head coach Manny Diaz and the ‘Canes, all the fun that came with a winning streak over Pittsburgh, FSU and Louisville and talk of an Orange Bowl berth has been replaced by losses to FIU and Duke and a spot in the Independence Bowl being played in Shreveport – about an hour away from the home campus of the Bulldogs.
The ‘Canes are in a spot where they don’t know which quarterback to go with – as both Jarren Williams and N’Kosi Perry have looked great and like hot garbage at varying points this season – and know they can’t have their first losing season since 2014…which ended with a loss in the Independence Bowl.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots (Sunday)
There was plenty of joy inside of Hard Rock Stadium last weekend when the Fins got an overtime win in their home finale – until some people realized they beat a one win Cincinnati team and the Dolphins still have a 4-11 record in head coach Brian Flores’ first season.
For Miami, having a chance to win their first game in Foxboro since the 2008 season would be a great builder for the 2020 season – as well as keep the Patriots from getting a first round bye, which they would lose if both Miami and Kansas City win.
Florida Gators vs. Virginia Cavaliers (Monday)
Despite being in the Sunshine State, this will be just the fourth appearance in the Orange Bowl for the men in Gainesville and their first time in the game since the 2001 season – when they destroyed a team from the ACC as the orange and blue thought they should be playing for the national title.
Head Coach Dan Mullen has Florida with back to back seasons with double digit wins for the first time since the 2008 and 2009 seasons – the first of those being when they won the program’s third national title with a win over Oklahoma in a game played inside what is now Hard Rock Stadium.
Florida State Seminoles vs. Arizona State Sun Devils (Tuesday)
For the first time since the 2017 season, the Noles are back in the postseason – and just like that win over Southern Miss in the Independence Bowl, the Seminoles are going to be coached by interim leader Odell Haggins as they wait for the Mike Norvell era begin in the 2020 season.
While the teams have a combined record of 13-11 entering their El Paso showdown, six of those losses have been by a combined 23 points – meaning this could be one of the more competitive games this postseason. FSU will be without star running back Cam Akers, who left school early to prepare for the NFL Draft as did the top running back and wide receiver for the Sun Devils.