-- A Florida team won or at least helped decide a national championship in almost every season over the past 15 years. The state has virtually owned the last decade and a half of college football and Miami, Florida State and Florida all rank among the top five in victories since 1990.
Last year, with the end of the Ron Zook era at Florida and a rare dip from Miami and Florida State, none of the three traditional Sunshine State powers was ranked in the top five for the first time since 1982. On Saturday, however, all three won crucial conference games to reestablish themselves among the nation's elite.
The Seminoles earned a come-from-behind victory to spoil the ACC debut for Boston College; Miami avoided what would have been a disastrous 0-2 start in league play by outlasting Clemson in triple overtime; and the Gators handled rival Tennessee, 16-7, at home.
When Urban Meyer, Florida's first-year coach, talked about his players' mind-sets early Sunday morning, his comments could apply to all three schools.
"I think [our players] are just tired of it," he said. "I've heard them talk. By tired of it, I mean they are tired of all that criticism. We say, 'Good, do something about it.' I think they did."
The Gators suffered a couple of key injuries Saturday. One of their top wide receivers, Andre Caldwell, broke his leg on the opening kickoff of the second half and is out for the season. Defensive end Ray McDonald, the team's best pass rusher, suffered ligament damage in his right knee and could be out for significant time as well.
Just a week ago, it appeared Florida State did not have a reliable quarterback. But that may have changed after redshirt freshman Drew Weatherford's performance against Boston College. After struggling early on, Weatherford completed 8 of 9 passes during the key drive that culminated with Florida State's go-ahead touchdown, and the Seminoles have now emerged as the favorite in the ACC Atlantic Division.
Miami opened the season with a 10-7 loss at Florida State on Labor Day. But after beating Clemson, Miami's schedule sets up nicely enough that the Hurricanes may not be tested until a Nov. 5 showdown at Virginia Tech.
Ga. Tech's Ball Doubtful
Georgia Tech quarterback Reggie Ball is doubtful for Saturday's game at Virginia Tech after being diagnosed with viral meningitis. Ball was hospitalized Saturday morning and will remain at Emory Hospital in Atlanta until Monday morning.
"I think we'll be extremely cautious in this situation," Yellow Jackets Coach Chan Gailey said. "We're not going to do anything too quickly. That could cause further problems. Once his symptoms clear, he'll be able to go back incrementally. He won't be able to go back out there full speed."
Ball, who missed Saturday's victory over Connecticut, first became ill midweek, showed improvement and then worsened Friday morning.
Viral meningitis is commonly found in college environments and is not nearly as serious as bacterial meningitis. His condition does not require quarantine and presents no danger to teammates or other students, the school said in a statement.
Two programs that have won national titles in the past seven seasons, Oklahoma and Tennessee, still have not completely solved their respective quarterback issues.
At Oklahoma, Rhett Bomar threw the ball better in his second career start Saturday against UCLA, completing 20 of 29 passes, but he fumbled five times. Coach Bob Stoops has just two more weeks to get Bomar ready to face Texas on Oct. 8.
Tennessee has even less time to find a resolution behind center. The Volunteers face Louisiana State on Saturday in the Tigers' first home game since Hurricane Katrina.
Tennessee backup Erik Ainge, who had lost his starting job after the opening game, looked solid at times Saturday, completing 14 of 29 passes for 147 yards. The starter, Rick Clausen, was ineffective, completing 2 of 5 passes for no yards.
"Neither one of them played very good," Tennessee Coach Phillip Fulmer said, "but the people around them didn't play very good either. It's tough."
The 'Ty' That Grinds
In anticipation of Saturday's game against former Notre Dame Coach Tyrone Willingham, first-year Fighting Irish coach Charlie Weis said: "This week will not be a week of distractions. . . . They [players] won't be talking about it and neither will I." Weis already has spoken to his team once about the questions they are bound to be asked by reporters this week, and he plans to address the issue again. "It will be a very short conversation," he said. . . . Clemson tight end Cole Downer had his spleen removed Saturday night, just hours after he was injured catching a six-yard pass in the fourth quarter of the Tigers' 36-30 triple-overtime loss to Miami. The senior will likely miss the rest of the season, the school said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.