TAMPA - The University of South Florida (6-2, 1-2 Big East) and Cincinnati (6-2, 1-2) are tied for last in the conference and will carry two-game losing streaks into Saturday's matchup. But, as the Bulls and Bearcats limp into the final third of the season, both coaches are still talking championship.
'We're excited about going into November and having a chance to contend for a Big East championship,' Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly said. 'Now we've got to finish that off and play well and win this weekend.'
Despite needing plenty of help, USF coach Jim Leavitt continues to eye the conference title.
'I don't think winning the Big East is out of the question,' he said. 'The month of November is a huge month. It always is. You really want to play your best football during that stretch.'
Pouncey May Be On Defense Vs. Vandy
GAINESVILLE - University of Florida OL Mike Pouncey moved to the defensive line this week at practice, and now it looks like he has secured a starting job.
Pouncey said Wednesday that co-defensive coordinator Greg Mattison told the freshman he will start at nose guard against Vanderbilt.
'I'm going to play a lot Saturday,' Pouncey said. 'I think I'm starting.'
Pouncey was listed as backup for C Drew Miller, but this week he has been studying film and listening to his coaches and teammates to learn how to be a full-time defensive lineman.
SAFETY PATROL: Freshman Major Wright will play Saturday at free safety, UF coach Urban Meyer said.
Wright only played on special teams against Georgia after undergoing surgery for a broken thumb. He wore a modified, taped boxing glove to protect his hand during the game.
Noles' Health Improves For The Stretch Run
TALLAHASSEE - The Seminoles may not have had a lot of things fall their way so far this season. However, Florida State is getting healthier going into what will be the team's toughest stretch in the schedule.
NG Budd Thacker returned from a dislocated toe, as well as a slight ankle injury last week and was productive against Duke. FSU also hopes to get senior DT Andre Fluellen back this week, who has missed two straight games and six consecutive starts.
The linebacker corps also got a little healthier as LB Marcus Ball returned to practice this week. Ball, who missed most of last season after tearing his ACL, suffered a high ankle sprain against Wake Forest.
AERIAL ASSAULT: BC quarterback Matt Ryan has thrown for 2,433 yards and 19 touchdowns this season, but FSU defensive backs are looking forward to the challenge.
'It's going to be a good opportunity for the defense,' third-year CB Tony Carter said. 'He's a very talented quarterback. Hopefully we won't be the reason he wins the Heisman this year.
'We just have to be disciplined, play 60 minutes and put a lot of pressure on him.'
Wright Hopes He Can Play Vs. Wolfpack
CORAL GABLES - QB Kyle Wright is hopeful he will be able to play Saturday against N.C. State.
Wright participated in 75 percent of Wednesday's practice after suffering a high ankle sprain and knee sprain on Oct. 20 against Florida State.
'I had just a little more stability,' Wright said after Wednesday's practice. 'Once I get a little more confidence and know it is starting to get better, which I know it is, that will help me out.'