Florida State can tie a school-record on Saturday with 12 victories by beating arch-rival Florida in Gainesville. The Seminoles are coming off of an 80-14 victory over Idaho and will enter Saturday’s contest a perfect 11-0 and ranked second nationally. FSU will likely wind up in Pasadena for the BCS National Championship with victories over Florida and in the ACC Championship to close out the season.
Florida on the other hand, is suffering through its worst season in more than three decades. The Gators are 4-7 and will not be playing in a bowl game for the first time since before the Steve Spurrier era. Florida comes in riding a six-game losing streak which includes an embarrassing 26-20 loss at home last week to Georgia Southern. Florida has managed to stay competitive with the likes of LSU, Georgia and South Carolina despite a myriad of injuries.
Florida was the beneficiary of five Florida State turnovers in last season’s meeting in Tallahassee, a 37-26 Florida victory. The last match-up in Gainesville however, went the way of the Seminoles. Florida State won 21-7 behind four Florida turnovers and a pair of short touchdown runs by Devonta Freeman. Florida won six straight in the series from 2004-2009, but the Seminoles have won two of the last three. To make it three of four against their arch-rivals, here are Saturday’s keys to Seminole success:
Not a Good “Mornhin”
With Tyler Murphy likely out Saturday against Florida State, it is looking more and more like freshman Skyler Mornhinweg will get a third straight start. Mornhinweg has been reluctant to throw the ball down the field and Florida State will want to play for the run and force Mornhinweg to beat them vertically. Florida State leads the nation in interceptions this season with 23 and that number should increase if FSU is able to get Mornhinweg into long third downs and obvious passing situations. Senior cornerback Lamarcus Joyner and senior safety Terrence Brooks headline a very good secondary for the Seminoles.
Make a Right Turn
With Florida State coming into Gainesville as a heavy favorite, the best way for Florida to remain competitive is to win the turnover battle and by a wide margin. Such was the case last season as Florida State committed five turnovers in a 37-26 loss to the Gators. The talent gap looks to be more lopsided this season, but taking care of the football will keep Florida’s lackluster offense from having a short field and what could be a rowdy crowd out of the game. Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston has thrown only seven interceptions this season and only twice in 2013, have the Seminoles committed multiple turnovers in a game.
A Wins”ton” of Balance
While redshirt freshman quarterback Jameis Winston is in line for Florida State’s third Heisman Trophy, the Seminoles have had a great year running the football and balance will be important on Saturday. Thanks to the three-headed monster of Devonta Freeman, James Wilder Jr. and Karlos Williams at tailback, Florida State ranks 23rd nationally in rushing averaging better than 200 yards-per-game on the ground. If FSU can open holes for the backs, that should open up shots deep for Winston, Rashad Greene, Kenny Shaw and a dangerous Florida State passing attack.