College Football Corner: Sunshine State success

WASHINGTON — September is finally in college football’s rearview mirror, and while there are a few schools that have taken their lumps in the sports “Show Me Month” (Baylor is 0-5) one state in particular is thankful we’ve turned the calendar page: Florida.

An entire state saw destruction from Hurricane Irma and the seven FBS schools saw their schedules altered in some way. Now that some of the clouds have passed, sunny skies are ahead for the state’s big three: #14 Miami improves to 4-0 with a rout of previously unbeaten Duke, Florida (3-1) is fresh off a shutout of Tennessee and Florida State (1-2) is no longer winless thanks to their comeback rally against Wake Forest (before you snicker, remember it took Virginia Tech double-overtime to beat the Deacons 6-3 not too long ago).

The AAC East will likely be decided between unbeatens South Florida and UCF and even Conference USA’s FAU and FIU aren’t completely unwatchable. The state of Florida thanks you for your prayers and thoughts: now their football teams are going back to their autumn tradition of kicking butt.

Maryland (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) defied expectations once again by beating Minnesota 31-24. They shocked us by beating Texas on the road and then stunned us by getting crushed at home by UCF in week four. So why should Saturday’s game be any different?

  • Terrapin Triumphs: Max Bortenschlager threw two touchdown passes and ran for a third score — while not committing a turnover for an offense that had just a pair of three-and-outs on the afternoon. Ty Johnson (130 yards and the game-winning TD) led a ground game that churned out 262 yards against the best run defense in the Big Ten. Jermaine Carter Jr. led the defense with 8 tackles and forced a fumble. The D also picked off Conor Rhoda twice, including the game-sealing INT by J.C. Jackson.
  • Terrapin Troubles: The suspect secondary allowed 17.6 yards per completion. Wade Lees averaged under 35 yards per punt.

Next: 3 p.m. Saturday at 4-1 Ohio State.

Navy (4-0, 3-0 AAC) stayed unbeaten while providing plenty of cause for concern in their 31-21 win at Tulsa. Rallying from a 14-point deficit is nice, but the rest of the league will be a little more dangerous when spotted a two-score lead.

  • Midshipmen Medals: another great day on the ground: 421 yards this time. Zach Abey ran for 185 yards and three touchdowns and didn’t commit a turnover. Tyler Sayles tallied nine tackles to pace the defense that began the second half by allowing 16 yards on 11 plays from scrimmage.
  • Midshipmen Miscues: Two touchdowns coughed up in the first quarter will definitely have the defense’s attention in the film-review room. Nine penalties and a fumble lost can’t be ideal for a team and program that has made its mark as one that doesn’t beat itself. Oh, and they missed another short field goal (this time the 26-yarder was blocked).

Next: Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against 1-3 Air Force.

#12 Virginia Tech (4-1, 0-1 ACC) stumbled in prime time to #2 Clemson 31-17. There’s no shame in coming up short against the defending national champs, and if nothing else the loss may provide a road map of the Hokies as they begin to navigate the Coastal Division waters (decidedly less choppy than the Atlantic).

  • Hokie Highlights: The defense held the Tigers to under 350 total yards and 6-of-16 on third down. Cam Phillips caught 7 passes for 74 yards. Greg Stroman continued to live up to his “special teams dynamo” status by ripping off a 43-yard punt return.
  • Hokie Humblings: Three turnovers, including one returned for a game-sealing TD by the Tigers. The offense went three-and-out on four of their first five possessions.

Next: Saturday at 7:15 p.m. at 2-3 Boston College.

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