Early on in the season, members of the Florida Citrus Sports Team Selection Committee are out on the road to meet with fans of our partner schools to spread the word about our brand-new home field opening for the 2014 bowl season.
This weekend, we’ll be at six notable games featuring teams from our partner conferences*:
Michigan (2-1, 0-0 Big Ten) concludes its non-conference schedule when Utah (2-0, 0-0 Pac-12) hits the road for the first time this season to do battle at the “Big House” in Ann Arbor. Last week, the Wolverines started off slow against Miami (OH) with both teams knotted at 10 midway through the second quarter before Michigan scored 24 unanswered points to close out the game. The Wolverines win extended the RedHawks losing skid to 19 games, the longest current streak in the nation. Utah’s high-powered offense has led them to a 2-0 start to the season. The Utes have put up 115 points in their two games so far, outscoring their opponents by an average of 37 points per game. Utah enters the cross country meeting fresh off of their bye week. The series is tied 1-1 with the Wolverines taking the first meeting back in 2002 and the Utes winning in 2008. Both previous games were played at Michigan Stadium.
Missouri (3-0, 0-0 SEC) hosts Indiana (1-1, 0-0 Big Ten) at Faurot Field in Memorial Stadium for a non-conference clash. The Tigers are led by sophomore Maty Mauk who has thrown 12 touchdowns through three games, tied for most in the nation. The Tigers hosted UCF last week scoring the game’s final 24 points to knock off the Knights 31-10. Mauk completed only 14 passes but four of them went for touchdowns. After defeating Indiana State in their season opener the Hoosiers got more than they bargained for against Bowling Green last week. In a game that saw nine lead changes in the second half, Indiana looked like they had secured the win, scoring a go-ahead touchdown with just over two minutes left. Bowling Green had other ideas as they stormed down the field and kicked the game-winning field goal with nine seconds remaining to upset the Hoosiers in Bloomington. Falcons quarterback James Knapke threw the ball 73 times, completing 46 of them for three touchdowns in the victory. Indiana leads the all-time series 6-3-2 winning six consecutive victories after dropping the first two meetings. The Tigers earned the win last year, their first against the Hoosiers since their 1954 meeting.
Nebraska (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) plays host to Miami (FL) (2-1, 0-1 ACC) in a primetime non-conference showdown at Tom Osborne Field at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln. The Cornhuskers are one of the two remaining unbeaten teams in the Big Ten along with Penn State following a 55-19 win on the road against Fresno State last week. Nebraska, along with Michigan and Indiana, has a chance to give the Big Ten a little pep in their step heading into their conference slate with a win as the Big Ten enters the week 1-10 against Power 5 conference teams this season. Following a season-opening loss to Louisville in a rematch of last year’s Russell Athletic Bowl, the Hurricanes have won two straight with freshman quarterback Brad Kaaya looking increasingly comfortable each week under center. Miami has put up 41 points in each of their two wins with Kaaya throwing 6 touchdowns while junior running back Duke Johnson continues his push up the program’s career rushing list where he now sits in eighth place. The series is tied 5-5 with Miami earning the most recent win back in 2001.
Florida (2-0, 1-0 SEC) travels to Tuscaloosa to face Alabama (3-0, 0-0 SEC) in the Crimson Tide’s conference opener. The Gators were on the brink of seeing their 27-game win streak against Kentucky get erased last week when the Wildcats took them to three overtimes before the Gators were able to clinch a 36-30 victory thanks to a Matt Jones one-yard touchdown run. After narrowly defeating West Virginia in their season opener, Alabama has rolled to victory in their past two games winning by a combined score of 93-12. The Crimson Tide have won the past three matchups and lead the series 23-14. The Gators last win in Tuscaloosa was in 1998 when they knocked off Alabama 16-10 and their most recent win over the Tide came in the 2008 SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
Mississippi State (3-0, 0-0 SEC) meets LSU (3-0, 0-0 SEC) in “Death Valley” in a battle of unbeatens to kick-off conference play for both programs. The Bulldogs have scored at least five touchdowns in all three of their contests but have been relatively untested playing two C-USA teams and South Alabama of the Sun Belt last week. The Bulldogs are 3-0 for the second time in head coach Dan Mullen’s tenure. Mississippi State is led by dual-threat quarterback Dak Prescott who is responsible for the second-most points (72) in the nation so far this season. After coming from behind to knock off Wisconsin 28-24 in their season opener, the Tigers have not allowed a point shutting out Sam Houston 56-0 and UL Monroe 31-0. LSU enters the matchup having won 43 of 46 night games in Tigers Stadium under head coach Les Miles. LSU leads the all-time series 71-33-3 and have won the past 14 meetings. The Bulldogs last win in Baton Rouge came in 1991 when they topped the Tigers, 28-19.
South Carolina (2-1, 1-1 SEC) hits the road for their first away game of the season when they visit Vanderbilt (1-2, 0-1 SEC) Saturday night. The Gamecocks are fresh off of their 38-35 upset victory over Georgia where they led from the end of the first quarter on. Senior quarterback Dylan Thompson threw for three touchdowns in the win and the defense held strong on a fourth quarter goal-line stand to preserve the victory. The Commodores earned their first victory under head coach Derek Mason last week after Massachusetts missed a would-be game-tying 22-yard field goal as time expired to give Vanderbilt a 34-31 win. The Commodores scored their first three offensive touchdowns on the season against the Minutemen this past weekend while their defense and special teams picked up two more scores, giving them three on the year as well. This is Vanderbilt’s fourth straight home game to begin the season and they will head out onto the road for back-to-back road games following this meeting. The Gamecocks hold a 19-4 edge over the Commodores in the series, picking up 12 of the last 14. Vanderbilt’s last win came at home in 2008, 24-17.
* — In years when a Big Ten team is assigned to a non-semifinal Orange Bowl, we will replace our Big Ten selection with the first post-CFP selection from the ACC, inclusive of Notre Dame. We’re already on the road at ACC partner schools via our relationship for the Russell Athletic Bowl.