Florida Football Friday: Florida Hosts Auburn in Top-10 Showdown

Florida vs. Auburn
Florida's Kyle Trask will look to lead the Gators to a second straight New Year's Six bowl victory. (Florida athletics)

Top-10 teams will meet on Saturday afternoon in Gainesville as No. 10 Florida plays host to seventh-ranked Auburn.

The competition hasn’t been real stiff for the Gators this season, but Florida has outscored its last two opponents, Tennessee and Towson, by a 72-3 margin. Florida is 5-0 for the first time since 2015. Auburn is also 5-0, but with two wins over current ranked opponents.

Kyle Trask has played well at quarterback for the Gators in place of the injured Feleipe Franks as he gets set to make his first start against a ranked opponent. Trask has seven total touchdowns to two interceptions thus far in about two and a half games. Lamical Perine leads Florida with 197 yards rushing and three touchdowns, but has had a rough start with an average of just 3.6 yards per carry.

Van Jefferson and Trevon Grimes are a nice tandem of wide receivers, but 6-foot-6 tight end Kyle Pitts is a player to watch around the red zone. He leads Florida with three touchdown catches. The match-up to watch will be how the Florida offensive line holds up against an Auburn defensive front that may be the nation’s best.

The defensive tackle duo of Derrick Brown and Tyrone Truesdell combine for about 630 pounds and have five sacks this season. Senior safety Jeremiah Dinson leads the team with 34 total tackles and an interception. The Tigers come in allowing just over 17 points per game.

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On offense, freshman quarterback Bo Nix has played a significant role in victories over ranked teams in Oregon and Texas A&M — both away from Jordan-Hare Stadium. Nix has nine total touchdowns and just two interceptions this year, but the focal point of the Tigers’ offensive is running back Ja’Tarvious Whitlow.

Whitlow leads the SEC with seven rushing touchdowns and ranks third in the conference with 463 yards on the ground. Seth Williams is Nix’s top target in the passing game.

Auburn will try to quiet a Florida defense that has 24 sacks, which leads Power 5 programs and ranks second nationally. Veterans Jabari Zuniga and Jonathan Greenard tend to wreck havoc on the edges, but linebacker David Reese is also in the midst of an outstanding season with a team-leading 36 tackles.

On the outside, cornerback C.J. Henderson is one of the nation’s best. For the Gators, Kair Elam and Shawn Davis each have two interceptions. If this one is close, both teams are very good in the kicking game. Auburn’s Anders Carlson and Florida’s Evan McPherson have combined for just two misses so far this season.

Saturday’s contest will be the first meeting between the schools since a 17-6 victory for Auburn in 2011. The contest at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium begins at 3:30 p.m. ET and airs on CBS.

If one is looking for a fun fact, Bo Nix’s father, Patrick Nix, was the Auburn starting quarterback in 1994 when the Tigers went into Gainesville and stunned No. 1 Florida. Like father, like son? We’ll see.

Prediction: Auburn 27, Florida 20

Other Games From Across the State

College Football

No. 18 UCF (4-1) at Cincinnati (3-1)
Friday, Oct. 4 at 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)

After getting back on track against Connecticut, UCF will play what may be its most important American Athletic Conference game of the season. Cincinnati has impressive wins over UCLA and at Marshall.
Prediction: UCF 35, Cincinnati 33

South Florida (1-3) at Connecticut (1-3)
Saturday, Oct. 5 at 12 p.m. ET (CBS Sports Network)

South Florida is a road favorite as it looks to end its 9-game losing streak to FBS competition. Connecticut was bullied last week by UCF and has lost seven straight to the Bulls.
Prediction: South Florida 34, Connecticut 20

Virginia Tech (2-2) at Miami (2-2)
Saturday, Oct. 5 at 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)

Virginia Tech and Miami will each look for a first ACC win on Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium. This one is big for Miami if it plans to contend for the ACC Coastal. The Hurricanes underwhelmed last time out against Central Michigan while the Hokies were embarrassed at home by Duke.
Prediction: Miami 24, Virginia Tech 10

Massachusetts (1-4) at Florida International (1-3)
Saturday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN3)

Massachusetts got its first win under head coach Walt Bell and will head to South Florida to face Butch Davis and Florida International with a head held high. FIU is a big favorite, but don’t be surprised if this one is closer than many think.
Prediction: Florida International 37, Massachusetts 28

NFL

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-2) at New Orleans Saints (3-1)
Sunday, Oct. 6 at 1 p.m. ET (FOX)

NFC Offensive Player of the Week, Jameis Winston, and the enigma that is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will look to remain undefeated on the road and move into a first-place tie in the NFC South. New Orleans is riding high after handing Dallas its first loss of the season, 12-10. The Buccaneers won a 48-40 shootout in last season’s contest at the Superdome.
Prediction: New Orleans 27, Tampa Bay 24

Jacksonville Jaguars (2-2) at Carolina Panthers (2-2)
Sunday, Oct. 6 at 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

A pair of rookie quarterbacks in Gardner Minshew and Kyle Allen will square off on Sunday in Charlotte as expansion sisters meet. Expect this one to be dominated by the defenses.
Prediction: Carolina 16, Jacksonville 13

Mike Ferguson is a contributor for The Grueling Truth, covering Florida sports and sports history. Follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFergusonMikeWFerguson”>@MikeWFerguson/a>. To keep up with all of his work, like his Facebook page.

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