For much of the last decade, it wasn't a fun time to be a fan of one of the football teams playing in South Florida. From college to the pros, it was a time littered with losing seasons, top draft picks and more coaching changes than you can count.
Alas, 2020 has started off a new decade and a much better season for at least one of those teams - a Miami Hurricanes squad that has surprised many with how easily they have dominated UAB, Louisville and Florida State to start the season (yeah, still not over that last one).
Now, the confidence UM has in their 2020 campaign will get tested against a top ranked Clemson team who has had quite the recent history destroying hopes and dreams of 'The U' being back.
At the same time, the Miami Dolphins head back on the road knowing their record might not show it - but they might end up being the best 1-3 team to start a season.
Can the 'Canes pull off the upset win on the road? Can the Dolphins do the same against a team very familiar to playing for a title? Can FIU turn their season around after an embarrassing opener? Can UF defeat an old nemesis? Can FSU avoid another embarrassment in the national spotlight?
All these questions and more while be answered in the next few paragraphs as we break it all down with NBC 6's not-so-scientific ranking system.
Miami Hurricanes at Clemson Tigers (Saturday)
If you are a fan of the orange and green, you are starting to get the feel like things might be getting back to the way they once were with teams fearing the 'Canes and Miami blowing out foes like they did in their last game against rival FSU.
Unlike past seasons, this game is going to be on the road during a nationally televised game against a Clemson team that hasn't just won two of the last four national titles - but a team that also has outscored UM 96-3 in their last two meetings, including a blowout win in the 2017 ACC Championship Game.
The Tigers enter the game around a two touchdown favorite, which is a little high for many and not just those rooting for the 'Canes. Miami finds themselves in a no lose situation - a upset win puts them legit in the early playoff conversation while a loss is expected. So, if you're Manny Diaz or D'Eriq King, coach and play the same way you have in the first three games. Heck, it's working.
Miami Dolphins at San Francisco 49ers (Sunday)
When the last decade ended, the 49ers were busy playing in Super Bowl LIV inside of Hard Rock Stadium while the Dolphins were preparing for yet another top five draft pick that was used this time on quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
Fast forward to this point in the 2020 season and the Fins have legit been in each of the three games they ended up losing - meaning Ryan Fitzpatrick keeps his signal caller job for at least another week while San Fran comes off an embarrassing loss on Sunday Night Football to a formerly winless Philadelphia team.
Miami has a losing record on the road in this series, including getting blown out on the West Coast back in the 2012 season. At some point, respectable finishes only get you so far and one has to wonder if Fitz can keep his job as starter without a win this week.
FIU Panthers vs. Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (Saturday)
If you're the Panthers, there aren't many positives you have going into just your second game of the season. A two point upset loss in the September 26th opener to Liberty dampened a lot of hopes coming off the 2019 campaign and has some wondering how much of a rebuild head coach Butch Davis has to do.
Now starts a stretch of eight straight weeks of games, including seven against Conference USA foes, that starts with a MTSU team that has won five of the last seven games between the teams - but just one of the last three games played in South Florida.
Other State Games
The No. 4 ranked Florida Gators head back on the road and back to facing a SEC West foe when they play Texas A&M on Saturday at noon, an Aggies team coached by Jimbo Fisher - who won seven of eight games against the Gators while he was the head coach at FSU.
Speaking of FSU, the Seminoles finally got their first win of 2020 with a second half comeback against Jacksonville State and get rewarded with another primetime, nationally televised game against a top ranked team. You can watch the 'Noles and No. 5 Notre Dame this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. right here on NBC 6.
FAU finally got to play their first game of the season last week and got a win over Charlotte - now, the Owls have their third game this season, this one a conference game against Souther Miss, postponed over COVID concerns. The 'Battle of the Palmetto Expressway' between Florida Memorial and St. Thomas was moved over COVID-19 concerns from this weekend to November 21st.
In the pro game, Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took a loss on Thursday when they went on the road to face the Chicago Bears while the Jacksonville Jaguars face the winless Houston Texans on Sunday, fresh off Houston firing their head coach following the 0-4 start.