The rival Florida Gators are now all that stands between second-ranked Florida State and a perfect regular season. Florida State comes in with a perfect 11-0 record and can tie a school-record for wins in a season by winning in Gainesville on Saturday. At 4-7, Florida is in the midst of its worst season in more than three decades. The Gators will not be playing in a bowl for the first time in 23 years.
Ranked second in the country, rival Florida and an ACC Championship showdown appears to be all that stands between Florida State and a trip to Pasadena for the BCS National Championship. Florida State is coming off of an 80-14 victory over Idaho in which the Seminoles set a school record for points in a game. Meanwhile, Florida has lost six straight, including an embarrassing 26-20 loss at home to Georgia Southern on Saturday — its first to a current FCS school since 1946.
Despite facing sexual assault allegations, Florida State redshirt freshman quarterback and Heisman Trophy hopeful, Jameis Winston, has been stellar over the last two weeks. In just over four quarters of action, Winston has gone 33-for-46 passing for over 500 yards with six touchdown passes and no interceptions.
Winston’s receiving corps features a pair of receivers in line for 1,000-yard seasons in junior Rashad Greene, who leads the team with 889 yards receiving and nine touchdowns and senior Kenny Shaw. Shaw has 828 yards on the season and could also break the 1,000-yard mark. Tight end Nick O’Leary holds the FSU football single-season record for touchdown receptions by a tight end with seven this season.
The Florida State passing attack will be facing a talented duo of cornerbacks in Vernon Hargreaves and Loucheiz Purifoy. Defense is the strength of the Gators as defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. and linebacker Ronald Powell also have the ability to make big plays for the Florida defense.
Offensively, Florida has struggled all season long and will need to be balanced to have shot of knocking off the Seminoles. Mack Brown is Florida’s leading rusher, but freshman Kelvin Taylor, son of former Florida running back Fred Taylor, has come on of late.
Quarterback Tyler Murphy could be out for a third straight game which means that freshman Skyler Mornhinweg would start once again. The Gators will also likely use senior Trey Burton in wildcat packages.
Whoever starts at quarterback for Florida will be facing a stout Florida State defense that is giving up the second fewest points in the nation and one that leads the country with 23 interceptions on the season.
Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan is one of the best in the country up front for the Seminoles while cornerback Lamarcus Joyner will look to lock down a thin receiving corps for Florida. Senior linebackers Telvin Smith and Christian Jones are also having outstanding seasons for Florida State.
Florida used a big rushing effort and five Florida State turnovers a season ago to top the Seminoles in Tallahassee, 37-26. The last meeting in Gainesville however, was won by Florida State, 21-7. FSU won easily despite finishing with less than 100 yards of total offense. Florida won six straight games in the series from 2004-2009, but Florida State has won two of the last three.
Florida State will be looking for consecutive wins in Gainesville for the first time since 1987 and 1989. The Seminoles can also tie a school-record with their 12th victory of the season while keeping their national title hopes alive. Saturday’s game will kickoff just after noon locally and will air nationally on ESPN.