From the Rivals corner: Oregon might be Pac-12's only hope left, Florida keeps rolling and more

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Each week, we’ll talk to our reporters on the ground to get their thoughts on the biggest happenings during the college football season. This week, we check in with Oregon, the Pac-12’s last chance at making the College Football Playoff; visit Gainesville to look at the Gators big win over Auburn; and we head to Coral Gables to examine Miami’s struggles under first-year coach Manny Diaz.

Are the Pac-12’s playoff hopes dead already?

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It’s becoming a yearly tradition in college football to eliminate the Pac-12 from playoff contention as early as possible in the season. So far, 2019 is no different, as the conference’s playoff hopes have been on the ropes pretty much since Oregon’s season-opening loss to Auburn. With the calendar having just turned to October, the conference already has no unbeaten teams and isn’t represented in the Top 10 in either major poll. With Washington losing to Stanford on Saturday night, it appears the Ducks may have the conference’s best chance at running the table and perhaps entering the playoff discussion. But will it be too little, too late?

We check in with’s A.J. Jacobson to get his thoughts on the Ducks’ chances.

“Oregon does have a shot at the playoffs but the path will be very difficult because they would have to win all their remaining games to do it. That would include winning the Pac-12 championship game, along with road games coming up at Washington, USC and Arizona State. Yes, the Ducks could run the table and be 12-1 when the committee makes its selections. But with the way the Pac-12 seems to beat up its own, there are no gimmes left on the schedule, and winning the next seven straight is a steep hill to climb.”

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Oregon Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert (10) celebrates a touchdown by wide receiver Jaylon Redd (30) during the second half at Autzen Stadium. Oregon won the game 17-7. (USAT)
Oregon Ducks quarterback Justin Herbert (10) celebrates a touchdown by wide receiver Jaylon Redd (30) during the second half at Autzen Stadium. Oregon won the game 17-7. (USAT)

Gators keep rolling

Down their starting quarterback, one of their best offensive weapons and a top defensive player, Florida didn’t skip a beat on Saturday and handled visiting Auburn 24-13 to move to 6-0 on the season. It’s the first time the Gators have been undefeated this late in the season since 2015, when Will Grier was under center for UF. While Saturday’s win at home was impressive, Florida will now head for another stiff test on the road Saturday at LSU. Can the Gators keep it rolling?

We checked in with’s Corey Bender to get his thoughts on Florida’s surprising success.

“Todd Grantham's defense is legit; there is no way around that. The Gators forced four turnovers against the Tigers and have given up just 16 points through four home games at the Swamp. Auburn's offensive attack was also held to just 269 total yards, the ninth fewest since Gus Malzahn has been at the helm.

Some questions still remain on the offensive side of the ball, especially along the offensive line, but the Gators have the defensive pieces in place in order to make a legitimate run at a championship. You also have to consider that some of the premier players have missed time due to injury, including C.J. Henderson, Jabari Zuniga and Feleipe Franks.

Kyle Trask was taken to the locker room in the second quarter after suffering what Mullen calls a sprained ligament, but later returned to a roaring applause from the UF faithful. He completed 19-of-31 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns, but also fumbled on three occasions. Continuing to establish a reliable rushing attack will always be a focal point, and there is no doubting the level of confidence has been boosted following a 130-yard, one-touchdown performance from Lamical Perine.

There hasn't been many hiccups since Trask took over under center, but the Gators' most difficult test of the season will arguably take place next weekend in Baton Rouge, with kickoff slated for 8:00 p.m. Both programs are ranked inside the top 10, and if the Gators can come out on the winning side of things, it's not difficult envisioning them closing out the regular season undefeated or with just one loss.”

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What’s wrong with ‘The New Miami’

When Manny Diaz was hired as the Miami coach last year, he promised to bring Miami back to its rightful place among the college football elite, even coining the term “The New Miami.” The phrase was used to fire up the fanbase and kick start recruiting efforts, but after five games The New Miami is starting to look a lot like the old Miami. The Hurricanes are 2-3 on the season after a feverous comeback attempt fell short against Virginia Tech on Saturday and now might also have a quarterback controversy brewing. So how can the Canes turn things around?

We checked in with’s Gary Ferman to get his take on the situation.

“Miami finished the 2018 season losing five of seven games, so the coaching change to defensive coordinator Manny Diaz alone was not a reason to have grandiose expectations coming into the season. That said, the schedule was and remains so favorable that there was sufficient reason to expect Miami to contend for the ACC coastal division title. After this rough start, that goal is now looking very unlikely. The blame is certainly shared, and the only way they get better is if the coaches begin doing a better job preparing for games and then the players perform better on game day. It has been one of those things where it is always something holding them back as opposed to one thing alone. Friday night’s game against Virginia is a very big one for the program. Another loss would certainly begin to create a doomsday environment which would also significantly compromise a respectable recruiting class.”

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