Upsets rare in recent Florida-FSU series history

The Florida Gators will enter Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday afternoon looking to do something that has only been accomplished once in the last 11 years in their annual series with the in-state rival Florida State Seminoles.

Since 2003, the favorite and/or unanimously higher-ranked team entering the Florida-Florida State game has ultimately won the contest – in fact, it’s happened on 10-of-11 occasions – with the Gators being the only team to pull off an upset victory, which they did on the road in Tallahassee, Florida, in 2004.

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11/24: Muschamp on preparing for FSU, what he’s told Gators assistants, quarterback position

Head coach Will Muschamp of the Florida Gators (6-4) held his last regularly-scheduled Monday press conference in order to discuss his team’s upcoming game against the No. 3 Florida State Seminoles (11-0) on Saturday afternoon at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida.

OPENING STATEMENT ON FLORIDA STATE

“One of the great rivalries in all of college football. Got a really good football team. We got tremendous respect for [head coach] Jimbo [Fisher] and the job he’s done, and his staff deserves a lot of credit for the games they’ve won. They won a bunch of games in a row. Last time they lost was when the Gators were up there. They’ve done an outstanding job. They’ve got a very good team in all three phases.

“Offensively, really with their team starts with Jameis Winston. He’s a great player, a Heisman Trophy winner. Arm talent, he can throw it any way you want it. He’s just got a great, strong arm. He’s able to throw the touch throws, take the ball to the right spots. He’s got a great pocket presence. He’s a very hard guy to tackle in the pocket. You’ve got to tackle him high. Great toughness for the position, you see the guy take some shots. He’s got a bad ankle, he keeps battling, he keeps playing and keeps playing. At the end of the game, he’s won a bunch of games for them, especially this year putting the game on his shoulders and winning the football game. Tremendous respect for him. …

“Looking forward to going to Tallahassee. Our guys will prepare well. Our guys look forward to this game every year and it ought to be a great atmosphere and environment.”

Continue Reading » 11/24: Muschamp on preparing for FSU, what he’s told Gators assistants, quarterback position

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Florida, Notre Dame exchange tweets of support

Outside of former head coach Urban Meyer, there has never been any substantial connection between the Florida Gators and Notre Dame Fighting Irish…until Friday when official Twitter accounts for both schools traded well wishes ahead of their respective football games this weekend.

It all started with the official University of Florida Twitter account, which sent a simple, innocuous message to the official University of Notre Dame account.


The Fighting Irish athletic program got the gist of the message and responded with a similar message of support to the Gators for their homecoming weekend game.

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FOUR BITS: Sturgis, Harvin, FSU, Tebow

1 » A rough rookie season has not deterred the Miami Dolphins from committing to former Florida Gators kicker Caleb Sturgis. Though he started his NFL career on fire with 10-straight makes, Sturgis suffered a slump where he missed 5-of-8 (some of which were in tough conditions and others from absurd long distances). He ended the 2014 season by making 13 of his final 16 tries and should only get better in his second campaign. “Every day you go out there, you want to hit every field goal,” Sturgis told his team’s website. “You try. When you get in a rhythm where you’re hitting every field goal you make, you stay at a consistent level.”

2 » The Seattle Seahawks continue to treat oft-injured wide receiver Percy Harvin with kid gloves, only allowing him to work out every other day in training camp. After an off day Saturday, Harvin returned to action Sunday and impressed once again. Head coach Pete Carroll explained to the team’s website how the Seahawks are being cautious with Harvin. “We want to work our way into camp and make sure we don’t overload him early,” he said. “We’re trying to figure out what kind of work load he can handle. He works so hard and so fast at practice that we think we can do this for a while. We’ll see how it goes and we’re just going to learn as we go.” For Harvin, who was famous for trying to avoid practicing every day with the Florida Gators, this appears to be as ideal of a scenario as he could imagine.

Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Sturgis, Harvin, FSU, Tebow

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Benches clear as Florida baseball tops No. 1 FSU

Florida Gators baseball has been up-and-down this season but pulled off its second-straight victory over the top team in the nation on Tuesday when it fought through a bench-clearing scuffle and took down the No. 1 Florida State Seminoles 4-1 at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville in Jacksonville, FL.

Florida, which also beat Florida State 3-1 in Gainesville, FL last Tuesday, clinched the regular-season series over its in-state rival. The Gators (16-9) and Seminoles (19-5) will play the last contest in their three-game series in Tallahassee, FL on April 8.

It did not take long for UF to get on the board as junior second baseman Casey Turgeon (1/2, R, 2 BB) walked to open the bottom of the first and scored four batters later when junior first baseman Braden Mattson singled to right field.

The Gators boosted their advantage with two more runs in the sixth. Mattson (2/4, RBI, R, SB) singled to open the frame, advanced to second on a wild pitch and came around to score on a throwing error by pitcher Peter Miller, who corralled a sacrifice bunt from junior right-handed starter and designated hitter Justin Shafer but let it get away on a throw to first. Shafer scored unearned as freshman third baseman John Sternagel reached on a fielder’s choice with one out, and UF ended the inning leading 3-0.

Things got testy in Jacksonville two innings later when FSU left fielder D.J. Stewart hit a dribbler down the first-base line and collided with Florida sophomore lefty reliever Danny Young, who tried to field the ball in the base path but dropped it before Stewart arrived. UF junior 1B Zach Powers took offense to Stewart’s trucking of Young and met him chest-to-chest beyond the bag. Stewart responded by shoving Powers, and the benches cleared with both teams pushing and shoving.

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Florida-Florida State extend football series through 2018; East Carolina added for 2015

The Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles on Thursday announced that a contract to extend the annual in-state rivalry football game between the two schools has been signed through 2018.

Florida State will host Florida in 2014 (the last year of the old contract), 2016 and 2018 with the Gators playing host to the Seminoles in 2015 and 2017, extending the series which has been played annually since 1958.

UF leads the all-time series against FSU 34-22-2 but has lost three of the last four meetings between the programs after winning six-straight from 2004-09.

Florida State has outscored Florida 115-58 since 2010 with the Gators’ only victory coming via a 37-25 road win in 2012.

Also on Thursday, Florida announced that it will host the East Carolina Pirates on Sept. 12, 2015, which is slated as the second week of the regular season.

It is the second time in school history that UF and ECU will square off on the gridiron as the Gators previously beat the Pirates 24-17 on Oct. 22, 1983. East Carolina has bookended the Florida game with contests against South Carolina in 2014 and 2016.

Florida is also tentatively scheduled to face New Mexico State and Florida Atlantic in non-conference action in 2015 though those games have not yet been confirmed.

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2014 RB Dalvin Cook flips from Florida to FSU

A year filled with devastating news for the Florida Gators ended in a similar fashion as the program lost its highest-rated 2014 commitment, four-star running back Dalvin Cook (Miami, FL), to the in-state rival Florida State Seminoles on the final day of 2013.

ESPNU casually broke the news of Cook’s flip with a graphic and simple mention on Tuesday evening during a taped show emanating from practices ahead of the 2014 Under Armour All-American Game.

Though he first made a pledge to continue his career at Florida back on April 6, when he decided to flip his commitment from Clemson, Cook began wavering as the Gators fell apart throughout the season.

Florida finished 4-8 while the team Cook ultimately committed to, Florida State, is 12-0 and playing for a national title next week.

He told Scout.com‘s Amy Campbell that he came to the final decision to play for FSU two months ago. Cook has spent much of that time claiming he was “100 percent” committed to UF. Dozens of pictures of Cook doing the Gator Chomp have found their way on social media over the last few days.

The Gators now only have three commitments participating in the Under Armour All-American Game, set to air live on ESPN at 4 p.m. on Thursday, a number that could decrease in the coming days or weeks.

A pair of four-star Florida pledges – wide receiver Ermon Lane (Homestead, FL) and cornerback J.C. Jackson (Immokalee, FL) – are also wavering in their commitments. Lane has said he plans to attend school with Cook and has an official visit scheduled at FSU, while Jackson is heavily considering Miami.

2015 four-star WR Da’Vante Phillips (Miami, FL), Cook’s teammate at Miami Central High School, decommitted from UF on Dec. 24. He had made a verbal pledge on July 27.

Cook, the 30th ranked player in the Class of 2014, was considered a must-get prospect for the Gators this recruiting cycle. His innate playmaking ability was sorely needed by Florida, which would likely have found a way to get him on the field right away.

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FOUR BITS: Muschamp, volleyball, Sloan, Driskel

1 » Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp apparently provided Pat Dooley, columnist for The Gainesville Sun, with a few minutes of his time at some point over the last week and dropped a couple tidbits of information about the program and where it is headed. Below are some of the most notable nuggets from the 2,000-word column, much of which makes excuses provides reasoning and perspective for Florida’s tough 2013 campaign. You can check out in full by clicking here.

* Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel, who just last year saw his team get ravaged by injuries before finishing the 2012 season 5-7 (2-6 SEC), called Muschamp personally to provide support. “He said he couldn’t imagine what we were going through. I got a lot of calls like that. Everyone has injuries, but I had guys in this league who called and said, ‘I don’t know how I would have handled it.’”

* Out of all the injured Gators, only sophomore running back Matt Jones (torn meniscus) and freshmen linebackers Matt Rolin (torn ACL) and Alex Anzalone (shoulder surgery) are expected to miss spring practice. Dooley reports: “Muschamp told me he plans to bump the start of spring practice to later in the year to make sure [junior quarterback Jeff] Driskel is completely rehabilitated after his leg injury.”

* Muschamp said he tried to be more easy-going this season in order to combat much of the negativity the players had to face each week. He regrets that decision. “I tried to make it fun for them and they were used to me being an [expletive] for two years.”

Check out four more BITS of Florida Gators news…after the break!
Continue Reading » FOUR BITS: Muschamp, volleyball, Sloan, Driskel

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