The Florida Gators (6-5) failed to get it done on Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida, falling 24-19 to the No. 3 Florida State Seminoles (12-0) despite being given plenty of opportunities to win throughout the contest.
Florida’s loss also marked the last game of head coach Will Muschamp‘s tenure with the program. The Gators will now wait at least a month until they play in a yet-to-be determined bowl game, the team’s first since 2012.
“We had our opportunities, certainly early in the game, especially. The start of the game, [we played] extremely well defensively. [We] had a hard time generating much run game, especially early in the game. In those situations when you get the turnovers early in the game, you got to capitalize on them. You can’t kick field goals. We had to kick field goals in those situations. [We] had a hard time getting the ball down the field in some situations. But extremely proud of how we played defensively. …
“You give up 17 points to an offense like that – give Jimbo [Fisher] and those guys credit, they do a great job – you deserve to be in a situation to win the game. I was proud of how we played on third down. The turnovers were outstanding. Offensively, we hit some explosives. We hit [Demarcus Robinson] down the sideline, we hit Brandon Powell early in the game on the stutter in the slot. Silly penalty there with Latroy [Pittman], knocked us out of field goal range. …
“Our guys, that was a good football team, fought hard, we had our opportunities, and we didn’t get it done. You credit that other football team. They did the things they needed to do to win the game and that’s why they’re sitting where they are.”
HISTORY, STATS AND STREAKS
» Florida is now 35-23-2 all-time record against Florida State, and the Gators still hold a 13-12-1 edge in Tallahassee. UF also remains 11-10 against FSU since 1995.
» Muschamp ends his Florida career 1-3 against Florida State. He was also 1-3 against Georgia, LSU and South Carolina, but UF did go 4-0 against Tennessee during his tenure.
» The Gators fell to 1-7 in its last eight games against top 25 opponents with Saturday’s loss. Florida was 5-14 against ranked opponents under Muschamp.
» Five of the Gators’ 11 games this season were decided by six points or fewer (2-3).
» Florida will finish the regular season without ever being ranked in either poll at any point for the first time since going winless in 1979.
NEXT UP: BOWL GAME
With Florida not qualified for the College Football Playoff or the other four bowls filled by the CFP Selection Committee, one must wonder where the Gators will end up in late December or early January.
Following the CFP selection process, the Citrus Bowl will get its first choice of an SEC team, but Florida will not be deserving of that slot either.
Next comes the “pool of six” bowls, which will be assigned by agreement between the conference, individual programs and the bowls themselves. The Gators are one of 12 bowl-eligible SEC teams, likely rated 8-10 in that bunch, meaning they have a shot at falling into one of these bowls, especially considering they are no longer designated in a particular order.
Outback Bowl (Tampa, FL), Gator Bowl (Jacksonville, FL), Music City Bowl (Nashville, TN), Texas Bowl (Houston, TX), Belk Bowl (Charlotte, NC), Liberty Bowl (Memphis, TN)
Though it may make sense that Florida would be placed at a bowl played in its own state, bowls also care about hotel room bookings and local economy stimulation. With many Gators fans already in these areas, they may not make an ideal option if a bowl can get a team like LSU or Texas A&M. UF, of course, would like to play in a bowl as close to home as possible for maximum ticket sales and lower travel costs.
Should the Gators fall out of the “pool of six,” they will either be placed in the Birmingham Bowl (Birmingham, AL) or Independence Bowl (Shreveport, LA).
No matter where Florida ends up, defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin will serve as the team’s interim head coach with the rest of the staff staying on for the game.
NOTES AND QUOTES
» On freshman quarterback Treon Harris going forward: “He’s a tough young man. He’s going to be a really good player. How he’s handled himself through this season has been outstanding, in my opinion.”
» On senior tight end Tevin Westbrook bobbling a red zone pass that became a 94-yard pick-six: “Heck, he’s had some opportunities to make some catches. In that situation, catch the ball. That’s really the message: catch the ball. You can argue about – he’s throwing it in traffic, this that and the other – we put you on scholarship at Florida to catch it.”
» On redshirt sophomore kicker Austin Hardin’s performance: “He hit the ball well. He did some nice things in the game. … Those were longer field goals [he missed]. He hit the ball well in those situations; I wished we would have got them in. I think from a confidence standpoint, he’s done a nice job.”
» On freshman defensive lineman Gerald Willis, who committed a personal foul while on the sideline and was sent to the locker room by Muschamp: “If I was still head coach, he would be kicked off the team. That’s ridiculous.”
» On not being able to get touchdowns when needed: “I knew it early in the game. I knew it coming in at halftime. You got to get seven points in those situations against a team like that, especially as explosive as they are. Disappointed we didn’t get that done.”