Coaching carousel names to watch, USF-UCF and more

As USF’s managerial search continues, our weekly Gameday guide begins with a fresh look at five names to know in this managerial carousel that will be in full swing after this weekend:

1. Mississippi coach Lane Kiffin: Industry speculation has him as a potential candidate for Auburn. The chatter will end — one way or another — shortly after his season in the Egg Bowl ends on Thursday.

2. Oregon Offensive Coordinator Kenny Dillingham: The former Florida state assistant has reportedly been in talks with the state of Arizona about opening it. A win over the Beavers will give him another opportunity to improve his resume (Pac-12 title game next week).

3. Florida Atlantic Coach Willie Taggart: The former FSU and USF head coach is 15-17 with the Owls and needs to beat his alma mater, Western Kentucky, on Saturday to qualify for the Bowl — and likely save his job.

Related: Let’s talk about Deion Sanders and the search for USF football coaches

4. Coastal Carolina Coach Jamey Chadwell: Saturday’s game against a strong James Madison team is another chance for Chadwell to show what he can do without star quarterback Grayson McCall. He is among other things a potential opponent for USF.

5. Indiana Coach Tom Allen: Perhaps the Hoosiers’ win over Michigan State would buy him another year. If not, it will almost certainly beating rival Purdue. The former USF assistant would be a logical target for the Bulls if Allen is fired or negotiates an exit package.

viewing guide

Spoilers: Ohio State-Michigan is the game of the weekend.
Spoilers: Ohio State-Michigan is the game of the weekend. [ PAUL SANCYA | AP ]

Lamest time slot: none. Friday and Saturday have enticing games on every slot. Enjoy the last full weekend.

Friday

Midday: No. 19 Tulane at No. 21 Cincinnati (ABC) is the Group Five game of the year and decides who will host next week’s UK Championship.

3:30: No. 18 North Carolina will be looking to go 26-2 in the last 28 state games under Mack Brown by beating North Carolina State (ABC).

7:30: No. 16 Florida State is one of the hottest teams in the nation, but the Gators will be no pushover (ABC).

Related: Florida Gators-FSU soccer game may take a step back to national relevance

Saturday

Midday: No. 3 Michigan meets No. 2 Ohio State (Fox) for the third all-time top three match of the rivalry.

3:30: Auburn at No. 8 Alabama (CBS) has the better story, but No. 10 Oregon at No. 22 Oregon State (ABC) should be the better play.

4: Will No. 4 TCU keep their textbook season going by beating Iowa State (Fox)?

7: The last USF-UCF game (ESPN2) — at least for a while — will be number one here because of the merciful ending to Jimbo Fisher’s miserable season against No. 6 LSU (ESPN).

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7:30: It’s nice that the rivalry between No. 13 Notre Dame and No. 5 USC (ABC) plays a role again.

10:30: The Apple Cup between No. 12 Washington and Washington State (ESPN) is a fun way to end the weekend.

Statistics of the week

USF is 5-0 against UCF on Saturdays while the Knights are 7-0 against the Bulls on Fridays. USF also won the only Thursday game in the series.

The game

Can Ohio State running back Dallan Hayden and the Buckeyes' ground play help beat Michigan?
Can Ohio State running back Dallan Hayden and the Buckeyes’ ground play help beat Michigan? [ NICK WASS | AP ]

Ohio State-Michigan offers contrasting styles. The Wolverines are built like a traditional Big Ten team with power and a strong running game. The Buckeyes are better passers and thrive on explosive plays. A key will be how the (relative) weaknesses fit together. Can Michigan quarterback JJ McCarthy make enough big plays to lead the Wolverines to victory? Or can Ohio State’s battered running backs slash Michigan’s defense?

Local of the week

A healthy Mario Williams adds a new wrinkle to the USC offense.
A healthy Mario Williams adds a new wrinkle to the USC offense. [ MARK J. TERRILL | AP ]

USC receiver Mario Williams (Plant City High)

The former top-50 overall recruit missed a month with a hamstring injury before returning in last week’s win over UCLA. When he’s closer to full strength, Williams will be another weapon for a high-profile offense that can be used against Notre Dame’s top-20 pass defense.

Orange Bowl Odds

Tampa Bay Tech alumnus Treshaun Ward and the Seminoles have a shot at making a prestigious New Year's Six Bowl game.
Tampa Bay Tech alumnus Treshaun Ward and the Seminoles have a shot at making a prestigious New Year’s Six Bowl game. [ GARY MCCULLOUGH | AP ]

Florida State has a slim but doable path to its first New Year’s Six Bowl game since 2016. If Clemson makes the playoffs, the Seminoles will likely be the ACC’s next best team and secure a spot in the Orange Bowl. Here’s what FSU fans should be cheering for (besides a win over Florida):

• Clemson will beat South Carolina this week and North Carolina in next week’s ACC title game.

• Ohio State beats Michigan (preferably by a big margin) because Clemson, an ACC champion with one loss, should outperform Michigan with one loss.

• USC loses to Notre Dame as Ireland also beat Clemson. TCU, losing a game or two wouldn’t hurt either.

• LSU loses to Georgia in the SEC championship next week.

Audibles

“I almost feel sorry for Tennessee. They’re not going to win the division, they’re not going to win the SEC, they’re not going to make the Final Four. You’re just going to have a slightly better year than average now. Someone told me, ‘Tennessee is probably headed for the Citrus Bowl now.’” — Gators legend Steve Spurrier to The Post and Courier

“I didn’t even know who they were until I came here. Now you hate them because you’re just a Florida Gator and you don’t want to lose to them.” — Gators punter and Australian-born Jeremy Crawshaw at FSU

Related: Just let Florida Gators’ Billy Napier do his job ‘because he knows what he’s doing’

In numbers: week 13

USF running back Brian Battie found his rhythm at the end of the season.
USF running back Brian Battie found his rhythm at the end of the season. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]

4 – Consecutive 100 rushing yard plays for USF’s Brian Battie. A fifth would join him with Marlon Mack, Quinton Flowers and Jordan Cronkrite for the longest streak in Bulls history.

12 – Various FSU players with a touchdown catch this season, most of the program since 1982.

5 – Quarterback rushes by Michigan edge rusher Jaylen Harrell (Berkeley Prep), most on the team.

103 – Points scored by Ohio State kicker Noah Ruggles (Steinbrenner High).

0 – Teams play in four consecutive Pac-12 title games that Oregon can reach in one win.

7 – Consecutive times No. 7 Clemson has beaten rival South Carolina.

31 times (in 32 games) has Tulane quarterback Michael Pratt thrown at least one touchdown pass.

2007 – The last time Kansas defeated Kansas State on the road.

1975 – Last time a team won seven straight games by 10 points or fewer this season until TCU.

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