Sunshine Stakes: Florida eyes SEC East crown, Florida State wants to keep Miami down

Joel Auerbach

The Sunshine State's most contentious rivalry will be renewed on Saturday, while Florida will see the Head Ball Coach once again with a lot on the line.

Florida vs. South Carolina, 3:30 p.m. Saturday (CBS)

What's at stake? Florida's game against South Carolina essentially serves as a SEC East semifinal: The winner of it looks likely to win the division, and the loser is all but out of it. The Gators will need to stop a two-game slide against Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks to advance to a de facto SEC East title game against Georgia next week.

If Florida wins: The Gators move to 7-0 and cement their resume as the nation's most complete, and set up the World's Largest Outdoor Non-Alcoholic Shindig as a winner-heads-to-Atlanta clash.

If Florida loses: The Gators are left hoping that South Carolina loses to either Tennessee or Missouri, because the Gators won't end up in a three-way tie for the East and the Gamecocks would hold the tiebreaker over the Gators if both teams finished with one conference loss. 11-1 and 10-2 still remain possibilities, but the chances of a BCS bowl would be severely reduced.

Miami vs. Florida State, 7:30 p.m. Saturday (CBS)

What's at stake? Florida State looks like the Sunshine State's preeminent ACC team; Miami looks like a team that doesn't even have a vague understanding of the concept of defense. The Seminoles want to bury their rivals from SoFla; the Hurricanes are hoping to put another dent in FSU's train, already derailed from its pursuit of the national title.

If Florida State wins: The 'Noles would have every advantage possible over Miami for South Florida recruits except for proximity and "tradition," and would stay in control of their own destiny in the ACC. Oh, and with a blowout, the more obnoxious Florida State fans will pretend that it's some great achievement despite three teams already doing the same to the Hurricanes this year.

The Hurricanes would be more or less out of the chase in the ACC, a game and a tiebreaker behind one-loss North Carolina, and could struggle to get to six wins and bowl eligibility.

If Miami wins: The 'Canes would score their first big win of Al Golden's tenure, stay in the race in the ACC Coastal Division (somehow), and really ruin FSU's season before it even gets to its final third.

The Seminoles would be behind Clemson in the pecking order in the ACC Atlantic Division. Hell, they'd be behind NC State. And all that big talk about a national championship season would be drowned out by Miami fans numbering in the hundreds of thousands claiming they attended the game and saw the 'Canes upset mighty FSU.

USF at Louisville, 3:30 p.m. Saturday (ABC/ESPN2)

What's at stake? Louisville appears to be the class of the Big East, streaking out to a 6-0 start. But while South Florida can't do much more than play spoiler in the conference after an 0-2 start, the Bulls want to maintain bragging rights over Louisville, who they beat last season. So that's something.

If USF wins: Louisville's hopes of making a run at a national title, slimmer than a supermodel as is, evanesce. And USF gets a "big" win!

If USF loses: Par for the course. USF would need to sweep its final three home games and beat either Miami or Cincinnati on the road to get to six wins..

UCF at Memphis, 8 p.m. Saturday

What's at stake? UCF is still undefeated in Conference USA, which is neat, and the Knights will be playing away from Bright House Networks Stadium for the first time since a road trip to Ohio State on September 8. This is another chance to put a loss on a divisional foe, and the third of four such chances in October.

If UCF wins: The Knights would still be undefeated in C-USA, and one win away from bowl eligibility.

If UCF loses: The Knights would be looking at a four-way tie in C-USA East with Memphis, East Carolina, and Marshall.

Florida International at Troy, 1 p.m. Saturday

What's at stake? Nothing, give or take the tiny chance that FIU could eventually get to 6-6.

If FIU wins: Just four straight wins to go 'til .500!

When FIU loses: The Golden Panthers will likely have given up 28 or more points for the eighth time in eight games in 2012.

Florida Atlantic at South Alabama, 3:30 p.m. Saturday

What's at stake? More than in the FIU game, barely, because the Owls could still finish 7-5.

If FAU wins: 2-5! Oh, happy day!

When FAU loses: South Alabama will have its first win over an FBS team.

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