Sometimes in life, it’s better to be lucky than good…and in the case of South Florida’s two major football names, a little bit of luck might have just been the reason that they were both able to escape last weekend with wins.
If you’re the Miami Dolphins, last weekend’s win in New England could be considered the first step toward a season that may end with the team making just their second playoff appearance in the last 13 seasons.
If you’re the Miami Hurricanes, last weekend’s comeback win against Appalachian State might have some wondering if this is the team really capable of competing in the ACC - and does head coach Manny Diaz find himself with a seat feeling slightly warmer after this weekend.
Can the Dolphins get a second division win of the season and become the team to beat in the AFC East? Can the ‘Canes bounce back from two straight weeks blow expectations? Can FIU avoid being a punching bag in its first road game of the season? As always, we break it all down with our NBC 6 not-so-scientific system.
Miami Hurricanes vs. Michigan State Spartans (Saturday)
After a blowout loss to Alabama and a way-too-close victory against the Mountaineers last weekend, the ‘Canes know they need a convincing win this weekend not just to get the momentum in their direction – but more to keep the critics off their backs after an offseason filled with plenty of hype.
Miami has never lost in the previous four meetings with the Spartans, but the last three wins were by a combined 14 points (with the last meeting between the teams coming in 1989) and Michigan State has looked a lot better this season under second year coach Mel Tucker. The ‘Canes know this is one they need to watch out for.
Miami Dolphins vs. Buffalo Bills (Sunday)
On the surface, the Fins are playing with house money in this game. Miami got the one-point victory last weekend on the road and now sit alone in first place in the division entering this weekend. Top that off with the fact the Bills were exposed last weekend in a seven-point loss to Pittsburgh that truly wasn’t that close.
With that being said, this is still a Bills team that came within a game of the Super Bowl last season and still has Josh Allen at quarterback (who threw for three touchdowns last season against Miami in the regular season finale). A 30-point loss in that game still stings as it kept the Dolphins out of the postseason - something Tua and his teammates would love to get some redemption for this weekend.
FIU Panthers at Texas Tech Red Raiders (Saturday)
Head coach Butch Davis has the men from Southwest Miami-Dade looking like somewhat of an actual team this season, with a record of 1-1 after last weekend’s overtime loss at home against Texas State. Now, it’s off to the West Texas town of Lubbock for what on the surface looks like a money grab game. But, after a six-point win over a FCS opponent last weekend, Texas Tech could be on upset alert.
Florida Gators vs. Alabama Crimson Tide (Saturday)
The Gators return home after defeating two in-state opponents to start the season and face an Alabama team they came within six points of upsetting in last season’s SEC Championship Game. The Crimson Tide have a chance to do something not many teams get a chance to: be the “state champs” of Florida after blowing out Miami in the season opener.
FSU Seminoles at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (Saturday)
Last weekend saw the ‘Noles suffer arguably the worst loss in program history when they were defeated by Jacksonville State - the first FCS team to defeat FSU in program history. Head coach Mike Norvell has won just three of his 11 games since taking over the Seminoles and knows the fans will be calling for major changes with a third straight loss to start this season.
Other State Games
The UCF Knights are on the road for the first time this season Friday when they take on Louisville while the USF Bulls look for their first win of the season when they host FAMU. FAU host Fordham on Saturday in Boca Raton while Bethune Cookman lost their SWAC debut against Alabama A&M.
In the NFL, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers get into divisional play when they host the Atlanta Falcons while the Jacksonville Jaguars are also at home this weekend when they host the Denver Broncos in the home regular season debut of head coach Urban Meyer and quarterback Trevor Lawrence.