Which Florida College Team Will Make It Back Into the AP Top 25 First?
The great college football blight in Florida continues as not a single team from the state is in the AP poll. Before the release of the week seven poll, that hadn't happened since 1982. Though, while the Big 3 -- University of Florida, Florida State, and University Miami -- now sit at three losses a piece, and University of South Florida has racked up two, all hope isn't lost. One or more of these teams could very well end up back in the top 25 by the end of season, but which will do it first?
In the past few years three loss teams don't start appearing in the poll until week 10, and become relatively common by week 11. Look no further then the Florida Gators last year. Then, much like this year, they suffered three losses in a row, but after wins against Georgia and Vanderbilt found themselves back in the top 25 in week 11 (only to be dropped for good the following week).
AP voters love to reward teams who have caught on to some momentum, and lets be honest, they're also not shy about placing the big three Florida schools in the poll above teams with similar records based on legacy alone. So there's a possibility a Florida team could crack the poll again within the next few weeks.
Miami is about to embark on a three game home field stand after claiming their first win in Chapel Hill ever. Las Vegas actually has them as favorites this weekend against the 21st ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. After that its another two home games against traditional ACC football fillers Virginia and Duke (though, both have better records than Miami at this point). If the Hurricanes can knock off a ranked opponent and follow it up with two commanding wins against what should be lesser opponents, don't be surprised to see them get a welcome into the top 25 for the first time this season. If they rack up a loss during that stretch though, their polling hopes may be done for the year.
Florida State is coming off its first win in four weeks, and takes on Maryland this Saturday. Maryland may have a 2-4 record (with a win over Miami), but all their losses in the ACC have been close. Don't write them off against the 'Noles. Though, if the 'Noles handle the Terps, they too have two winnable games against ACC opponents in the weeks after.
If both FSU and Miami go on winning streaks in the next three weeks, its very possible the November 12 game could be a heated match up of not only traditional rival but (lowly) ranked opponents. That means a trip back out of the top 25 for the loser could be on the line.
Florida meanwhile has the exact same immediate path back to the top 25 as it did last year: a bye week, then Georgia and Vanderbilt. Though, then they face 14th-ranked South Carolina on Nov. 12th. That's the team that ended their brief top 25 reappearance last year.
Don't count out the USF Bulls either. They've only ranked up two losses, but their next two opponents should be a test. Cincinnati and Rutgers both have 5-1 records, and are undefeated in the Big East. Back-to-back wins against one-loss opponents could impress voters.
All four teams have a real chance of finding themselves back in voters' good graces, and I wouldn't be surprised if Florida rises again before their game against South Carolina. Though, I'd watch FSU and UM. If they can (and they can) win their next three games, their game against each other should determine which Florida team has the best chance of slipping back into the AP poll and staying there.
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