Who: Florida State Seminoles (7-4) at Florida Gators (6-5)
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL
When: Saturday, November 26th at 7:00 P.M. EST
Last Week: Florida State fell to Virginia 14-13; Florida defeated Furman 54-32.
While neither Florida State nor Florida are having the season that each had hoped prior to the year, the annual meeting between the two remains a big football game. Although this year’s game will be only a blip of the national radar, bragging rights, pride and the in-state recruiting war are on the line. Florida State saw its five-game-winning-streak snapped last week in a 14-13 loss to Virginia. Florida had to rally to defeat FCS Furman in Gainesville. With the victory, Florida became bowl-eligible; the Gators can guarantee a winning season with a win over Florida State on Saturday.
For the first time since 2003, Florida State defeated Florida last season with a dominating 31-7 victory. The last meeting in Gainesville came in 2009 with Florida winning 37-10 in what would be legendary Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden’s final regular season game. The Seminoles have not won in Gainesville since 2003 when Chris Rix’s late touchdown pass to P.K. Sam propelled Florida State to a 38-34 victory. While the rivalry has remained heated, the games have not been close. 2006 was the last time in which this match-up was decided by one score; Florida won that contest 21-14 in Tallahassee. Saturday night’s game can be seen on ESPN2.
Keys to Seminole Success
Contain Demps and Rainey
Florida has two backs with world class speed in seniors Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey. Both of these guys can break off the big run at any point. Both are having down years for Florida and Florida State has been very good against the run this season. If Florida State can stuff these two speed backs and force quarterback John Brantley and his sub-par pass protection to beat them, it should be a very good night to be a Seminole.
In each of Florida State’s four losses this season, mistakes have plagued the Seminoles. In the loss to Oklahoma, it was the turnovers; in the loss to Clemson, it was the penalties. In the loss to Wake Forest, it was turnovers and penalties and last week against Virginia, it was everything. In a game that FSU should have probably won by 10-14 points, the Seminoles couldn’t stay out of their own way. Florida State turned the ball over inside the red zone; E.J. Manuel twice missed open receivers for scores, they committed 94 yards worth of penalties, many of which negated big plays and they couldn’t get in the end zone after having a 1st-and-goal from the one. Despite all that, Florida State’s Dustin Hopkins still had an opportunity to win the game with a last second field goal, but that was no good. The ‘Noles appear to have the better team in this one, but if FSU is unable to stay out of its own way, it could be a another long night.
Play Well Early
When the Seminoles have been at their best this season, it has been when they have been playing from ahead. In four of Florida’s five losses, the Gators spent the majority of the game playing from behind. After an ugly win last week against Furman, Florida’s confidence may be a bit shaken. If FSU is able to jump on Florida quickly as they did a year ago, the rout could be on once again for the Seminoles.