Revival of the Big Three

Imran Ahmed, Web Editor

     College football has returned in full swing with the Big 3 back in college football (Florida, Florida State, Miami). These teams have brought a lot of excitement and passion from fans for years now however Florida State and Miami have had difficulty overcoming adversity and haven’t had BCS aspirations much until this year with all three teams bringing all sorts of new excitement.

Florida– The big storyline coming in for the Gators is how they will fare without Tim Tebow. The two time All-American and Heisman trophy winner brought so much excitement and joy to the Gator nation as well as a couple national championships ; however, all great things come to an end and Tebow had to eventually leave for a NFL career. This leaves the team in the hands of John Brantley, a red-shirt junior who had played backup to Tebow for the past two seasons and broke many of Tebow’s high school records. Brantley brings to the table a solid pocket passer who can throw the ball deep down the field.  It’s far different with a quarterback who is there to make plays with his arm instead of his legs, something the Gators depended on for years with Tebow at QB. The Gators look very sharp with speedster Jeff Demps bringing a lot of depth to the Gator running attack. The defense brings a lot of promise too with Brandon Hicks and Janoris Jenkins showing some speed in power in the bolstering Florida defense.

                However, the 2010 season hasn’t started quite how many fans and coach Urban Meyer expected. The home opener against Miami (Ohio) was a very sloppy performance from the offense with botched snaps and no offensive touchdowns until the 4th quarter; however John Brantley had no interceptions and was able to perform efficiently. The defense proved to be dominant like the Florida defense has been known in past years and was the factor that got them the 33-14 win. A week later they played South Florida with star QB BJ Daniels who put on a show with his legs but couldn’t do a thing with his arm which proved to be the factor that got USF to lose the game 38-14. The Gators exhibited solid defensive play but once again another lackluster performance from the offense.

                The Gators were able to sustain some potential offense with a conference game against Tennessee. Though the offense didn’t excel it showed signs of life with Brantley making plays and the defense giving the Gators good field position throughout the game in a 31-17 victory in Nashville, This leaves the Gators with a 3-0 record and a 9 ranking in the AP poll going into another conference showdown in the Swamp against Kentucky. Senior Brett Fox says, ” I’m thinking the Gators will have a great year this year going possibly 9-3 or 10-2, whether or not they make a BCS game, it’s all in their hands”. Gator fans should be optimistic like Brett for a big season, one with BCS implications especially if their offense begins to get in sync before the big Alabama game in a couple weeks.

Florida State- The end of the Bobby Bowden era marked some major changes for the Seminoles. New coach Jimbo Fisher brought a lot of excitement and optimism to the table and another top 5 recruiting class definitely showed Seminole fans that things were only going to get better after a 34 year reign under legend Bobby Bowden. The Noles bring a ton of talent with under the radar Heisman candidate Christian Ponder who played superbly until he had a season ending shoulder injury and all sorts of weapons on offense such as Jermaine Thomas and Bert Reed. The preseason AP poll had the Noles at #20 with lots of room to improve as time progresses into the season.

                The 2010 season began with a bang with the Seminoles putting on a clinic against Samford, defeating them 59-6 without any turnovers from the Seminole offense. However, they allowed a ton of yards against Samford which proved to be a big problem against the Oklahoma Sooners in week 2 of the college football where they lost 47-17 with Landry Jones picking apart the secondary with over 340 yards passing in the first half alone. This proved to be awfully tough for the Noles in a season in which they had anticipated high hopes but the issues in the secondary prove to be the one thing that stands in their way from being a legitimate contender.

                Most recently however, the Seminoles were able to make some major adjustments and hold the BYU offense to virtually no production, the Seminoles played some tough hard nosed football in a dominating 37-10 victory at Doak Campbell Stadium. At the moment the Seminoles are currently on the outside of the AP top 25 with  a 2-1 record.  After stumbling against the Sooners it looks like they are getting their act together and are ready for a big season in 2010 with rookie head coach Jimbo Fisher.

Miami- The Canes come into 2010 with no major questions except whether 2010 is the year the Hurricanes could contend in the ACC, possibly even the BCS National Championship. The Hurricanes have all the pieces for a dominant team led by junior quarterback Jacory Harris who is coming off a 3,000 yard season with 24 touchdowns and a booming 17 interceptions. He has the making of a solid quarterback but throws interceptions in bunches. He has shown flashes of brilliance in the 2009 season against some very tough teams such as Oklahoma, Florida State and Georgia Tech. The Canes have lots of offensive weapons too with quick wideout Travis Benjamin and All ACC star Leonard Hankerson. Their defensive line had much potential with Allen Bailey leading one of the quickest defenses in all of college football. Once again though the Canes had some big tests for them with road games at Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Clemson all being consecutively.     

                The 2010 season started the way the Canes had anticipated it to with a dominating 45-0 victory against Florida A&M. The offense was in sync all four quarters and running backs such as Lamar Miller and Damien Berry stepped it up. The defense played phenomenally as well not allowing any points and measly yardage. A week later however, the Hurricanes had a heavy test against the #2 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, bringing back memories of a 2003 National Championship in which a controversial pass interference call cost the Hurricanes the National Championship. Vengeance fueled the Hurricanes fire for this game, however playing in front of over 105,000 screaming Buckeye fans was a bigger challenge than expected. Jacory Harris had bad communication issues all game with his receivers and threw four interceptions and the defense couldn’t contain QB Terrelle Pryor, who has become one of the favorites to win the Heisman early in the season. The only bright spot about the loss was the fact that special teams torched Ohio State; the Canes were able to get a kickoff return and a punt return for touchdowns. The 36-24 loss gave the Hurricanes a reality check and Coach Randy Shannon urged his teammates to get rid of their twitter accounts to focus more on football rather than trash talk.

                The Hurricanes still have the potential to make some noise in the BCS picture but need to get some quality wins this year, especially on the road against Pitt and Clemson. They stand at 2-1 right now ranked number #19 in the AP poll, being one of the best teams in an awful year for the ACC filled with upsets. Don’t count out the Canes especially with all the speed and talent they possess despite a crushing defeat against Ohio State.

                Regardless of whom you are cheering on this season, it sure to be a great season in the world of college football, with many of our Florida teams on the national bubble.