After one of the most momentous days for Florida's major college football programs in recent memory last Saturday, Week 7 looks to be a bit more sedate for the Big Three and the rest of the Sunshine State's teams. But one upset could change all that, and so we look at what's on the line in this week's Sunshine Stakes.
Florida at Vanderbilt, 6:00 p.m. (ESPN)
What's at stake? Florida's 5-0 and flying as high as it has in the post-Tebow era. The Gators are doing things Will Muschamp's way, too, with withering defense and grinding offense, and it's looking more and more like Florida might play for an SEC title in Year 2 under Muschamp. Against Vandy, the second of Florida's two absurd annual winning streaks is up for renewal again, with the Gators looking to add to their 21 straight victories over the Commodores and extend a winning streak that dates back to 1989.
If Florida wins: The Gators stay in the top-five, and establish their game against South Carolina next weekend as a de facto SEC Championship Game play-in game. Florida's 5-0 SEC record would ensure a winning season in conference, the Gators' first since 2009. And the Gators would have run the table in SEC road games, going 3-0 in trips to Texas A&M, Tennessee, and Vandy.
If Florida loses: The sky will not fall. Even if Florida loses on Saturday, it will maintain full control of the SEC East race, and merely have to win out to be assured of a spot in Atlanta. The Gators will drop in the polls, and likely lose control of their own destiny in the national championship race, but they probably wouldn't fall completely out of contention, because being 12-1 and winning the SEC is still a possibility even if they do lose.
Florida State vs. Boston College, 5:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
What's at stake? Florida State's doing damage control from here on out in its ACC schedule: the loss to N.C. State was that bad. The Seminoles should still be able to get to the ACC Championship Game and play for their first conference title since 2005, but there's only the faintest hope of national title contention left for them, and how their 2012 season is remembered will likely come down to whether FSU wins the ACC, beats Florida, and wins a BCS bowl game.
If Florida State wins: Woo. Florida State successfully avoided two consecutive horrific upsets.
If Florida State loses: FSU loses its ability to control its own destiny in the ACC's Atlantic Division, and that seat Jimbo Fisher sits on gets very, very hot. On Monday, Rick Scott announces that the state will look into capturing the energy of laughter from Gainesville and using it as a renewable resource.
Miami vs North Carolina, 2:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
What's at stake? Miami's still leading the ACC Coastal Division, which, holy crap. Beating North Carolina is likely to make the Hurricanes' game against Virginia Tech that will ring in November the decisive tilt in the Coastal.
If Miami wins: The 'Canes get to 4-0 in the ACC with Florida State and Virginia Tech at home and Virginia and Duke on the road left in ACC play. And UM preserves the potential to put the league and the NCAA in an extraordinarily awkward position by earning the right to play for the conference title.
If Miami loses: That great ACC start looks a lot less promising at 4-3 overall, and the 'Canes face the prospect of an 0-for-October with Florida State set to trek down to South Florida next week.
UCF vs. Southern Miss, 8:00 p.m. (CBS Sports)
What's at stake? Just UCF's undefeated C-USA record and/or any respect anyone would have for UCF for the rest of the season, really.
If UCF wins: The Knights remain on pace to win the C-USA East and play for the conference title.
If UCF loses: The Knights will have given 0-5 Southern Miss its first win of 2012, and lost a game to a team that ranks No. 116 in scoring offense and No. 107 in scoring defense. Southern Miss lost 42-17 to Western Kentucky in its only other road game. This would be a very, very bad loss.
Florida International vs. Middle Tennessee, 6:00 p.m.
What's at stake? FIU is looking for its second win of 2012. That's it.
If FIU wins: The Golden Panthers will have two wins!
If FIU loses: There's very little chance it goes bowling in 2012: five games against Sun Belt teams would remain, and the Golden Panthers would have to sweep them just to get to 6-6.
Florida Atlantic vs. Louisiana-Monroe, 8:00 p.m. (ESPN3)
What's at stake? The Owls' second win of 2012. And that's about it here, too.
If FAU wins: The Ows will have two wins!
If FAU loses: The Owls would be in the 1-5 hole FIU currently faces, and have five games against Sun Belt teams and a sixth against Navy to go in a long season.