Remember the old days when Florida would be getting ready to play Florida State and you felt all queasy in your stomach because it was such a big game? Well, that was a long time ago with two coaches who aren’t involved in the profession (of course, one just recently passed away).
This is a new old-fashioned version of hate your neighbor because even though these are two teams going nowhere (except maybe the Gasparilla Bowl), it still rankles Gator fans to see an FSU license plate or hear that war chant even when it’s just the Braves game. They play at noon, the time slot that has become symbolic of either the best game of the week (see: Ohio State at Michigan) or one of the least inspiring. You’ve probably scouted a few FSU games this season, but we still bring you…
10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT:
FLORIDA STATE (5-6, 4-4 ACC)
… likes to point out that he might have had it easier with Georgia and LSU than some coaches, but he was stuck with FSU at its peak. In the 12 years of Spurrier, both teams were ranked in the top 10 all but one year. That was in 2001 when FSU was ranked 20th. The average Associated Press ranking for the series when it was Spurrier against Bowden:
- Florida State: 4.24
- Florida: 4.75
Contrast that to Urban Meyer
… who only faced three FSU teams that were even ranked at all in his six years. And those rankings were 22nd, 23rd and 23rd. Of course, he had his own demons to conquer. Like Alabama with Saban and a better Georgia program.
This FSU team is kind of the opposite of Florida.
Take yourself back to the fourth Saturday night in September. Florida had just beaten what turned out to be a pretty good Tennessee team and we know what had happened the week before against Alabama. FSU had just lost its fourth straight game (to Louisville) and had a loss to Jacksonville State on its resume. Since then, FSU is 5-2 and Florida is 2-5 with a skeleton coaching staff still employed. It shows you how fast things can change.
One reason it did change for FSU
… was that the Semis decided to bench the great story for the better player for the team. McKenzie Milton sat and Jordan Travis retook his throne as the starting quarterback. He has only lost once as a starter (he was out sick for one of those two losses in the 5-2 run). Travis is elusive (428 rushing yards this year) and has improved his passing accuracy (63%).
Travis has also thrown 14 touchdown passes and only five interceptions
… (Milton has three TDs and five picks), but a weapon Florida has to figure out how to defend is JaShaun Corbin, a swift-running back who has rushed for 877 yards and seven touchdowns. Corbin has also caught a team-high 22 passes this year.
The wise guys had a stunning spread for this game when it was first posted – Florida by 10.
But then Dan Mullen was fired and FSU won and Florida lost and the line fell through the floor. Florida is now a 2.5-point favorite which means the Gators have been favored in 10 of the 12 games they have played this season. FSU has been the underdog in half of its games.
Games like this often come down to turnovers and that has not been good for Florida
The Gators are 119th in turnover margin at minus-8 because of too many interceptions (15) and not enough forced turnovers (10). FSU has a turnover margin of 0. It is flat because the Seminoles have generated 17 turnovers and coughed as many up. But FSU shouldn’t have to worry about turnovers against a Florida team that seems allergic to the ball.
Florida State is 49th in the nation in rushing and is averaging 4.8 yards a carry.
The Seminoles are 99th in passing and 82nd in total offense. They are 71st in total defense and have given up one more TD than they have scored this season. FSU is also 104th in third-down conversion percentage.
Look for some penalties.
Florida ranks 116th in penalty yards. FSU ranks 86th. And we all know how officials can sometimes get carried away in rivalry games (re: The Swindle in The Swamp).
When Florida was looking for a new coach the last time, so was FSU.