Since it’s Florida-Florida State week, time to bring back a few memories of great games from the past.
FLORIDA 14, FSU 9; November 30, 1991
This might be the best defensive game ever played in The Swamp and it wasn’t decided until 2:03 left in the fourth quarter when the Gators broke up a Casey Weldon pass intended for Kez McCorvey in the end zone. Trailing 14-9 and with 4th-and-10 at the UF 14, Weldon was flushed out of the pocket by Florida’s Carlton Miles. Weldon tried to squeeze a pass in to McCorvey at the right edge of the end zone but Will White got a hand on the ball and deflected it in the direction of FSU’s Matt Frier but Frier had his legs cut out from under him by an alert Del Speer with the ball falling harmlessly to the turf. FSU had no time outs remaining so the 5th-ranked Gators killed the clock to preserve Florida’s 10th win of the season, the first 10-win season in UF history.
The 3rd-ranked Seminoles scored a field goal on their opening drive of the game but Florida answered with a 76-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by Errict Rhett. Leading 7-3 in the third quarter, the Gators got the game-deciding touchdown on a busted play. Flushed out of the pocket, Shane Matthews launched a deep pass on the run to Harrison Houston, who outleapt FSU’s Reggie Freeman for the ball at the Seminole 43. Freeman slithered to the turf while Houston spun and sprinted to the end zone to complete the 72-yard scoring play.
FSU got inside the Florida 30 four times during the game but only came away with only one TD. The Seminoles came into the game averaging 204 rushing yards per game but managed only 37 on this day. Weldon took the beating of his life from a Florida pass rush that was so intense on this unseasonably warm November day that FSU O-linemen were vomiting all over the field.
Florida All-American defensive tackle Brad Culpepper said after the game, “They were puking all over the place. They were trying to block me and I didn’t want to get near them.”
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF RANKINGS: WEEK 3
1. Clemson 11-0
2. Alabama 10-1
3. Oklahoma 10-1
4. Iowa 11-0
5. Michigan State 10-1
6. Notre Dame 10-1
7. Baylor 9-1
8. Ohio State 10-1
9. Stanford 9-2
10. Michigan 9-2
The rest of the top 25: (11) Oklahoma State 10-1; (12) FLORIDA 10-1; (13) Florida State 9-2; (14) North Carlolina 10-1; (15) Navy 9-1; (16) Northwestern 9-2; (17) Oregon 8-3; (18) Ole Miss 8-3; (19) TCU 9-2; (20) Washington State 8-3; (21) Mississippi State 8-3; (22) UCLA 8-3; (23) Utah 8-3; (24) Toledo 9-1; (25) Temple 9-2
COMMENTARY: Florida’s drop to #12 was almost expected after the great escape win over Florida Atlantic. The Gators can still help their cause significantly by knocking off #13 Florida State this week because there will be some movement in the top ten. If the Gators close out their season with wins over FSU and #2 Alabama in the SEC Championship Game it might be next to impossible to keep them out of the final four.
#3 Oklahoma certainly belongs in the top four. If the Sooners beat #11 Oklahoma State Saturday to win the Big 12, they will have finished the season three consecutive wins (#7 Baylor and #19 TCU are the other two) over ranked teams.
#4 Iowa is a shaky -1.5-point favorite at Nebraska Friday. Nebraska already owns a win over #5 Michigan State. If Nebraska were to spring the upset, it could do serious damage to the Big Ten’s chances of getting a team in the final four.
Notre Dame dropped all the way down to #6, which is about where the Irish should be. Notre Dame plays at #9 Stanford Saturday. Stanford is vastly overrated but could pull the plug on Notre Dame’s championship aspirations. Stanford still has to play in the Pac-12 championship game where a loss would certainly burst its championship bubble.
Ohio State dropped down to #8, but there is a scenario that could get the Buckeyes back into the final four but it’s complicated. Ohio State would have to knock off #10 Michigan Saturday and Michigan State would have to lose to Penn State, which would put the Buckeyes in the Big Ten Championship Game. The other half of the equation involves Iowa, which would need to win over Nebraska Saturday to take a 12-0 record into the Big Ten title game. A win over an unbeaten Iowa team could very well put Ohio State in the final four.
#1 Clemson and #2 Alabama seem to have the path of least resistance to the final four. Clemson only has to beat South Carolina Saturday and then North Carolina in the ACC championship game while Bama has to beat unranked Auburn and then Florida.
HARGREAVES IS FINALIST FOR THORPE AWARD: Florida corner Vernon Hargreaves III is one of the three finalists for the Jim Thorpe Award, given to the nation’s top defensive back. The other finalists are Iowa’s Desmond King and Duke’s Jeremy Cash. It’s mind boggling that UF defensive tackle Jonathan Bullard wasn’t a semifinalist for either the Outland or Lombardi awards.
SEC NEWSWORTHY (AP rankings)
#2 ALABAMA (10-1, 6-1 SEC): On the injury front, running back Kenyan Drake, who broke his arm against Mississippi State 10 days ago, was practicing Tuesday as was freshman corner Minkah Fitzpatrick, who sprained a knee against Mississippi State.
ARKANSAS (6-5, 4-3 SEC): Bret Bielema still hasn’t gotten over the Hogs’ 51-50 loss to Mississippi State last Saturday night. "For the first time since I've been here, I was legitimately just pissed off Saturday night and Sunday," Bielema said. "We've lost some games here, but I don't know if we've ever been in a position where we could say, 'Hey, that was truly one that' (got away). We could have easily had that game be in the win column, and you can't give away a win."
AUBURN (6-5, 2-5 SEC): Auburn got good news Tuesday when left tackle Shon Coleman and center Austin Golson returned from injury to practice after sitting out last week’s win over Idaho.
#10 FLORIDA (10-1, 7-1 SEC): The Gators have a long list of walking wounded but the only two who are most likely to miss Saturday’s game with 14th-ranked Florida State are defensive end Alex McCalister (ankle) and defensive tackle Taven Bryan (hamstring).
GEORGIA (8-3, 5-3 SEC): At his Tuesday press conference a reporter from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked Mark Richt if he was coaching for his job Saturday against Georgia Tech. Richt replied with a laugh, “Who made you ask that question. I kow you didn’t think of that one. My focus is on beating Georgia Tech. That’s my answer to you.”
KENTUCKY (5-6, 2-6 SEC): Not only does Kentucky need to win Saturday’s game with Louisville to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2010, but a bowl game and the possibility of a winning season will make a difference on the recruiting trail.
LSU (7-3, 4-3 SEC): With reports that LSU and Les Miles are about to part ways, there is plenty of support coming in from all different angles for The Hat. Jacob Hester, who helped lead Miles and LSU to the 2007 national championship threw his support behind Miles, saying, “I understand that there does need to be changes made. I don’t know where you get those changes. But changes will be made. You got to give Les the opportunity to make those changes.”
#23 MISSISSIPPI STATE (8-3, 4-3 SEC): Dan Mullen’s name has already been associated with job vacancies at Virginia Tech, Southern Cal and South Carolina. Tuesday, Mullen said, “I don’t like commenting on other jobs because it’s a waste of time. I love the one that I have. Not much else on it besides that.”
MISSOURI (5-6, 1-6 SEC): The Tigers are hoping to extend Gary Pinkel’s coaching career by one game. A win over Arkansas in Fayette Nam Saturday would get the Tigers bowl eligible and open up the possibility that Pinkel could close out his career with a winning season.
#19 OLE MISS (8-3, 5-2 SEC): Three defensive players could be out Saturday when the Rebels face Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl while another will miss the first half because he was ejected last week. Linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche is still under medical supervision after spending last week in the hospital. Also on the questionable list are defensive end Fadol Brown and safety C.J. Hampton. Corner Cam Ordway will sit the first half after he was elected in the third quarter of the LSU game for allegedly throwing a punch.
SOUTH CAROLINA (3-8, 1-7 SEC): Athletic director Ray Tanner is denying a report from sportstalksc.com that a tentative agreement has been reached with Houston coach Tom Herman to become the Gamecocks’ next HBC ... Josh Kendall of The State is reporting that Pharoh Cooper has decided to enter the NFL Draft rather than return for his senior season.
TENNESSEE (7-4, 4-3 SEC): Curt Magitt, who has missed the entire season with a hip injury, will participate in Senior Day Saturday but he could appeal for a sixth year of eligibility because he also lost part of the 2012 season and the entire 2013 season with a knee injury.
TEXAS A&M (8-3, 4-3 SEC): No speculation about who’s under center this week. Kyle Allen will get the start at quarterback Saturday when the Aggies travel to Baton Rouge to face LSU.
VANDERBILT (4-7, 2-5 SEC): The two-quarterback system has been abandoned. This is freshman Kyle Shurmur’s team now. Head coach Derek Mason said, “For us, Kyle Shurmur needs to be on the football field. Last week against Texas A&M, Shurmur was 3-12 passing for 19 yards and 1 interception. He has thrown for 294 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs this season.
COUNTDOWN TO FIRING DAY UPDATES
New UCF athletic director Danny White intends to interview Florida DC Geoff Collins and LB coach Randy Shannon. Also expected to interview are Bowling Green HBC Dino Babers and North Carolina DC Gene Chizik.
As expected, former Hawaii coach June Jones has emerged as the leading candidate to replace the departed Norm Chow.
Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports says Virginia Tech is moving quickly to name Memphis HBC Justin Fuente as Frank Beamer’s replacement. That conflicts with reports on Monday that Larry Fedora (North Carolina), Dan Mullen (Mississippi State) and Chad Morris (SMU) were at the top of Whit Babcock’s drool list.
It’s a bit of a surprise, but 76-year-old Bill Snyder is expected to announce he will return for the 2016 season.
Georgia Southern HBC Willie Fritz has expressed interest in the vacant Iowa State job.
SPORTS ILLUSTRATED BOWL PROJECTIONS FOR SEC TEAMS
Cotton Bowl (national semifinal): #2 Alabama vs. #3 Michigan State
Sugar Bowl: FLORIDA vs. Baylor
Citrus Bowl: Ohio State vs. Ole Miss
Outback Bowl: Wisconsin vs. Tennessee
TaxSlayer Bowl: Northwestern vs. LSU
Liberty Bowl: Kansas State vs. Auburn
Birmingham Bowl: Temple vs. Georgia
Belk Bowl: Duke vs. Arkansas
Music City Bowl: Pittsburgh vs. Mississippi State
Texas Bowl: Texas Tech vs. Texas A&M
Will recruiting play a role in the coaching futures of LSU’s Les Miles and Georgia’s Mark Richt? LSU’s class is currently ranked #2 nationally by Scout.com while Georgia’s is ranked #7. If there is a coaching change at either school it could have a disastrous effect on recruiting.
FSU running back Dalvin Cook leads the nation with 18 runs of 20 or more yards and six runs of more than 50 yards. Cook has gained 1,475 yards this season and has scored 16 touchdowns.
Baylor, which lost starting quarterback Seth Russell to a broken bone in his neck a few games back, might have to go with its third stringer Saturday against TCU. Backup Jarrett Stidham is listed as “very questionable.”
QUESTION OF THE DAY
What is your best Florida-Florida State memory?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
I was introduced to Ten Years After by Al Hospers when I was working after school at The Record Bar on University Avenue in the spring of 1969. Al was a long-haired musician – some called him a hippie! – who drove a cool ’57 Chevy and knew all the words to every song by Bob Dylan. It was rumored that he occasionally partook of the heathen devil weed. Al was in charge of ordering all the rock and roll music for our store and whenever he saw something new that he liked, he put it on our state of the art stereo system then opened the front door so even the folks across the street at Mac’s Waffle House could hear. Somehow my ears survived. My first taste of Ten Years After was the album “Stonedhenged” and that made me an instant fan of Alvin Lee. Today’s music is a Ten Years After concert recorded live at the Fillmore East in New York in 1970.