Location: Doak Campbell Stadium – Tallahassee, Florida [Capacity: 82,300]
Weather: 65°F (feels like 65°F), sunny, winds SW at 2 mph
Time: 3:30 p.m. EST
TV: ESPN (Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Heather Cox)
SiriusXM: 84 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter
|FLORIDA GATORS||No. 3 FSU SEMINOLES|
|Head Coach: Will Muschamp||Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher|
|Record: 6-4||Record: 11-0|
|Conference: Southeastern||Conference: Atlantic Coast|
Odds: Florida +7 | O/U 53
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STATS / STREAKS / NOTES
» Florida holds a 35-22-2 all-time record against Florida State in the newly-named Sunshine Showdown. The Gators also boast a 13-11-1 edge in Tallahassee and won the last meeting there in 2012.
» Muschamp will be coaching his last game for UF on Saturday. He enters the game 1-2 against FSU in three showdowns, 0-2 in Gainesville.
» Florida had lost six-straight games against top 25 opponents until beating Georgia this season. The Gators are 5-13 against ranked opponents under Muschamp.
» UF is also 23-7 against unranked opponents under Muschamp but just 13-5 against unranked SEC teams during his tenure after losing to LSU, Missouri and South Carolina – all at home – this season.
» Four of the Gators’ 10 games this season have been decided by six points or fewer (2-2), while the Noles enter Saturday’s game having six of their 11 games decided by a touchdown or less (6-0).
» Florida State is on a 27-game winning streak with its last lost coming to Florida in Tallahassee on Nov. 24, 2012 (37-26 UF).
» The Gators have not been ranked once this season and will not be unless a defeat of the Seminoles vaults them into the bottom of a top 25; it will be the first time since 1979 that UF is not ranked in any poll at any point during a given football season.
» Despite its struggles, Florida’s offense has been an efficient scorer in the red zone, converting 36-of-39 opportunities (.923). That’s good for second in the SEC and sixth nationally. The Gators, however, have only converted 23 red zone touchdowns on those 39 trips (.590).
» UF’s passing defense has been suspect at times, but it the unit has stopped the run well, allowing just 33 double-digit runs this year, fifth-fewest in the nation. The average of 110.4 rushing yards allowed per game is 11th fewest nationally.
» Nearly 43 percent of opponent drives against Florida have ended in a three-and-out (60 of 142).
» The Gators are bowl-eligible for the first time since 2012.
» Under Muschamp, the Gators are 23-5 when holding an opponent to 21 or fewer points, 20-3 when rushing for 150+ yards, 26-6 when outrushing an opponent, 17-6 when scoring first and 23-4 when leading at the half. Conversely, Florida is 1-8 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards, 2-14 when being outrushed by an opponent and 5-16 when tied or trailing at the half.
» There has been just one true upset in the last 11 years of the UF-FSU rivalry.
GETTING GEARED UP FOR MUSCHAMP’S LAST STAND
There is perhaps no one as geared up for Saturday’s game as Florida junior left tackle D.J. Humphries, a North Carolina native who did not have a side in the rivalry until committing to the Gators three years ago. From his perspective, there is no bigger game in the country.
“I’ve always kind of known about this one. I mean, this kind of is one of those nationwide – Florida hates Florida States, Florida State hates Florida – type of deals. I’ve always known enough [about the rivalry] since I was a kid, so it’s a big deal,” he said.
Humphries was so juiced for the game that he said he was starting to sweat and get warm just talking about it. He also explained how his perhaps somewhat irrational hatred for the Seminoles has developed over the last three years.
“You don’t feel it until you get to the stadium. I didn’t have no personal hatred toward those guys until I got to Florida State my freshman year. I was like, ‘I hate Florida State.’ I don’t care. I don’t know nothing about anybody, but I hate Florida State. … It was just the atmosphere. You get there, you know you’re not welcome and you know they don’t like you. And we don’t mind that.”
Humphries claims the Gators are not focused on their opponent’s 27-game winning streak but rather what they can do to win their final game of the season and Muschamp’s last contest wearing the orange and blue of his hometown team.
“If we upset, we’ll definitely be carrying Champ off on our shoulders. Give him a Gatorade shower, carry him out on our shoulders,” he said. “It would definitely be a good way to send Champ out and our seniors … He’d definitely let us carry him off the field. He wouldn’t have no choice; we’re too strong for him.”
Sophomore safety Keanu Neal agrees with Humphries in that regard.
“It’s going to be emotional. We love Coach Muschamp. He’s a great coach, in my opinion. We’re going to miss him for sure and we’re going to lay it on the line for him,” he said.
Where Neal somewhat disagrees with Humphries is about FSU’s 27-game winning streak, as he does indeed see it as a motivating factor for him and the defense.
“It makes us want to end it. Every team that faces it wants to end that streak. But it’s another game, we’re just going to go out and play like they should,” he said.
“It’s a big rivalry. You have to have confidence going into the game. You can’t go into the game second-guessing yourself because that’s when you start hesitating and not really reacting like you should. Confidence is huge going in the game. Our preparation is going to be a huge key to that.”
But while every Florida player may be using some different motivation entering Saturday’s game, Humphries says everything will change at kickoff and once he gets on the field.
“You’ve just got to just kind of take those emotions out of the game when you actually start playing the game. When you’re pumping up for the game, that’s all type of stuff that gets you going and gets going like that, but when the game actually starts, all those emotions have to go away and you have to lock in on your assignments, do what you’re supposed to do,” he said.
COORDINATORS TALK FLORIDA-FLORIDA STATE
» Offensive coordinator Kurt Roper on staying aggressive in the second half: “Aggressiveness comes on perimeter runs, quarterback runs and different things like that – trying to get outside of the tackle box, per se. That’s just kind of who’ve we morphed into and who we’ve become this season. … Every game is different, and you’ve got to be able to adjust, but definitely being able to throw the football helps.”
» Roper on his experience coaching against FSU from his time at Duke: “It’s a lot of the same things are taking place, and the new defensive coordinator has put his spin on it and doing his thing. So there’s similarities and there’s differences and that’s why, you know, you game plan as much as you possibly can.”
» Defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin on where Jameis Winston stacks up as a quarterback: “He’s right up there with the best of them. He’s put that team on his back a couple of times this year and just found a way to get a win, a victory. That’s probably the best compliment you can give someone in a competitive sport like this. They find a way to will a team to victory, that’s something special. He’s got all the ability and talent and those things, but when you mix that in with I think his leadership ability — and you can tell that team responds to him — he’s got that competitive juice and he gets it done.”
» Durkin on FSU’s second-half comebacks: “Obviously, you can’t ever count these guys down and out. They’ve come back from some big deficits and late deficits, so you got to keep playing and executing the game plan. You can’t tighten up as a team, players or coaches. You’ve got to stay loose and keep executing the game plan. Obviously, hopefully, we get in that spot and we’re able to do that. And then we go execute it and finish it because they’ve sure done a good job finishing games throughout the year.”
» Durkin on sophomore cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III not shadowing Noles leading receiver Rashad Greene: “Based on coverage and call and situation, it will be different. They are going to be matched up on each other at times. There will be times where he won’t be. It won’t be one of those deals where he’s with him the whole game. … Sometimes you do that and all of a sudden you’re putting other guys in spots they haven’t been in before and [they’re] uncomfortable. I think the main thing is being able to execute. Obviously, he’s a great receiver and he’s the guy they go to. We feel good about Vernon as a cover guy, but we don’t want to sacrifice the whole integrity of what we do defensively to say that’s the matchup.”
» Durkin on what he anticipates from this game: “Everyone’s giving [Florida State] their best shot every week. They’re kind of mixing up the looks they’re getting and doing some different things against them early on. I think the biggest key for our guys is to finish. We’ve got to obviously come out swinging, but we’ve got to keep swinging throughout and finish the game. They do a good job of adjusting. They’ve made some plays later in the game to get back in it and ultimately take the lead, so that’s a big key on our part where we have a plan going in and we’ve done a good job this year of adjusting in the game as it goes on. We’ve got to continue to do that and not just sit in one thing. If you’re doing that, they’re going to find a way to pick you apart.”
INJURIES AND ABSENCES
» Probable (2): Freshman quarterback Treon Harris (knee bruise)
» Out (8): Redshirt senior linebacker Neiron Ball (knee – season), sophomore LB Jarrad Davis (knee – season), redshirt senior tight end Jake McGee (leg – season), junior RB Mark Herndon (ACL – season), freshman defensive back J.C. Jackson (shoulder – season), freshman DT Thomas Holley (hip – season)
WHAT’S AT STAKE
This is it for the Gators and for Muschamp. The fact is that a bowl game will be nice for a Florida team that worked hard all season, but it is a consolation prize to a division title, conference title or spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff. But the Gators have the ability to boost the value of that consolation prize in a couple of ways with a victory against the in-state rival Seminoles on Saturday. Not only can Florida vault itself into a much better bowl game and possibly even the bottom of the top 25 rankings, it can effectively end Florida State’s season by knocking it out of CFP contention. Combine all of this with Muschamp spending his last game as the Gators’ coach and Florida has plenty of motivation to go out and win this game, especially considering there is very little truly at stake if it loses.
Unlike the Gators, the Noles have everything on the line Saturday. Not only does Florida State want to defend its field against its in-state rival, FSU need a victory to remain in the top four of the CFP Rankings. A decisive win against UF could also boost its stock in the rankings, especially if a team above it falters or loses. A defeat, on the other hand, would send the Seminoles reeling with a victory in the ACC Championship Game unlikely to keep them in contention or a spot in the first-ever CFP. For a team that has played way too many close games this season, Florida State cannot afford to get into a dog fight against a Florida team that has proved it can win such games this season.
Here’s a look at what former and current Gators had to say on social media before Saturday’s rivalry game.
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