Gameday: No. 4 Florida Gators vs. Florida State

Location: Doak Campbell Stadium – Tallahassee, FL [Capacity: 82,300]
Weather Forecast: 64°F, sunny, winds NNW at 10 mph
Time: 3:30 p.m. EDT

Tickets: Best deals on Florida Gators tickets starting at $129 on TiqIQ

TV: ABC/ABCHD (Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe)
SiriusXM: 85 | Radio: Gator Radio Network [Affiliates]
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No. 4 FLORIDA GATORS No. 10 FLORIDA STATE
Head Coach: Will Muschamp Head Coach: Jimbo Fisher
Record: 10-1 Record: 10-1
Conference: Southeastern Conference: Atlantic Coast
Roster | Schedule Roster | Schedule

Odds: Florida +6.5 | O/U: 41.5

HISTORY / STREAKS / STATS

» Florida is 33-21-2 all-time against Florida State and leads the series 12-11-1 on the road in Tallahassee. UF and FSU have played every year since 1958 without a break and squared off twice in both 1995 and 1997.
» The Gators had won six-straight games in the series from 2004-2009 but have lost back-to-back games to the Seminoles. FSU is looking to win three-straight for the first time since 1998-2000 and has not lost to an in-state rival since Nov. 28, 2009.
» It is the first time in 12 years that both teams enter the game ranked in the top 10.
» Florida is 3-1 vs. teams currently in the BCS top 10.
» UF currently boasts the No. 1 ranked strength of schedule nationally.
» Florida finished 7-0 at home in a season for just the third time in school history. The 2006 and 2009 UF teams also accomplished that feat.
» The Gators are 3-6 against ranked teams under Muschamp but 3-1 in that category this season with wins over Tennessee, LSU and South Carolina and a loss to Georgia.
» Florida was 0-5 when trailing at the half in 2011 but has flipped that around and is 4-1 in 2012 in that category with all four victories vs. SEC opponents (two ranked).
» The Gators are 11-0 under Muschamp when rushing for more than 150 yards and 1-5 when rushing for fewer than 100 yards. UF is also 14-3 when holding opponents to fewer than 21 points, 10-1 when an opponent rushes for fewer than 100 yards, 11-3 when scoring first and 13-1 when leading at the half.
» Florida has faced three top-25 total offenses, giving up an average of 18 points per game to those teams. The Gators, ranked No. 4 in total defense and No. 3 in scoring defense, have not allowed an opponent to score more than 20 points this season.
» Florida State is No. 1 in total defense and No. 5 in scoring defense but has only faced one top-25 total offense, allowing 37 points in that game.
» UF has faced four top-20 total defenses and four top-20 scoring defenses. FSU has taken on one top-20 total defense and the No. 47 scoring defense nationally.
» Florida has converted a paltry 54-of-153 third-down attempts (34.3 percent) this season, which is tied for 95th nationally in that category.
» The Gators have held their opponents to 42-of-160 on third down conversions (26.3 percent), which is good for second-best in the nation. UF was second nationally in third-down defense (27.3 percent) last season.
» Florida is averaging 32:49 in time of possession through 11 games, a margin that ranks ninth nationally and first in the SEC by 1:39 per game.
» The Gators are outscoring opponents 168-55 in the second half (47-27 over the last four games) and 91-23 in the fourth quarter.
» Florida is +13 in turnover margin after being -12 in 2011. UF has forced the most turnovers in the SEC (342) since 2000.
» The Gators have grabbed 16 interceptions so far in 2012, doubling its 2011 total of eight. UF has grabbed at least one pick in eight games and has forced eight fumbles.
» Florida is first nationally in pass efficiency defense (90.4) and sixth in rushing defense (95.2 yards). UF has allowed one pass touchdown in its last five games.
» The Gators have at least two kickoff returns for touchdowns in each of the last two seasons after never having more than one in a single season before 2010. UF has not yet registered a kick return (or punt return) in 2012.
» Florida is third nationally in net punt average (41.6 yards per punt).

Read about the injuries and absences and much more…after the break!

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QB Jeff Driskel slated to start at Florida State

After missing a full week of practice and the Jacksonville State game with an injured left ankle, No. 4 Florida Gators sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel is slated to return to his starting role on Saturday against the No. 10 Florida State Seminoles.

Gators head coach Will Muschamp said Wednesday on the weekly SEC teleconference that Driskel looked like he was back to his normal self when he returned to practice on Tuesday and should start Saturday barring an unforeseen setback.

“Jeff Driskel looked very good in practice [Tuesday], and he’ll be ready to go,” he said. “He would [start] at this time. Obviously we still got a couple more days of practice, but he looked good enough to me that he’ll be fine. … We’ll go from there but right now Jeff looks good.”

Muschamp continued, “He looked fine. We did everything we normally do. There was nothing limited within the package of what we do with him when we normally prepare for any game. Again, looked very good yesterday. Unless something just unheard of happens in practice [Wednesday] or [Thursday], he’ll be ready to go Saturday.”

Driskel’s experience (nine starts, four against BCS top-10 teams) and mobility are big advantages he brings to being behind center for Florida. He is the Gators’ second leading rusher with 424 yards and four touchdowns and has also completed 64.8 percent of his passes for 1,324 yards and 10 touchdowns with just three interceptions.

Though Driskel’s injury may have been the most important to the team, he is not the only player expected to return this week.

Redshirt junior wide receiver Andre Debose (knee), sophomore fullback Hunter Joyer (thigh) and redshirt sophomore right tackle Chaz Green (ankle) all looked good in practice Tuesday, Muschamp said. He added that redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle) looked a bit slow as he tried to return but cautioned that he still has a few days to work that out.

Florida will look to win its fourth game against a BCS top-10 opponent on Saturday when it takes on Florida State at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, FL. Should the Gators win, a BCS bowl game would be assured and a trip to the national championship would be plausible with some help.

NOTES AND QUOTES

» Muschamp said the punt and kick return positions, as of now, are not settled. Debose is in the mix to start again at both but is not assured of his role. Sophomore cornerback Marcus Roberson is also competing for the punt return job, while redshirt senior tight end Omarius Hines and sophomore CB Loucheiz Purifoy are also working at kick returner.

» On the tough SEC schedule: “Certainly playing in the SEC, it’s a playoff every week. We have an eight-game playoff to go to the [SEC] Championship Game. At the University of Florida, you’re going to play Florida State every year, and next year we play Miami. So you’re looking at 10 so-called “good” games, I guess as the media would say it. We have an eight-game playoff every year to go to Atlanta.”

» On if junior defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd was injured in practice and/or will be able to play Saturday: “Yeah, he looked good yesterday.”

Photo Credit: Phil Sandlin/Associated Press

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11/20: Pease, Quinn talk UF’s preparations for FSU

With the team preparing for its final regular season game of the 2012 campaign, a road contest against the in-state rival No. 10 Florida State Seminoles in Tallahassee, FL, No. 4 Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease and defensive coordinator Dan Quinn met with the media Tuesday to discuss the upcoming game.

OFFENSE: WORK IN PROGRESS BY CIRCUMSTANCE, VANILLA ON PURPOSE

While Florida’s defense continues to improve with each passing week, the Gators’ offense seems to be regressing. Faced with a unit that is 104th in total offense and 79th in scoring offense (out of 120 FBS teams), Pease explained Tuesday that he understands the criticism but does not think that situation has been put in the proper perspective.

“I’ve got that side that I feel responsible at times. In the same sense, the bashing, so-called bashing…we are what we are right now. We tried to improve. Where we’re at, it’s still kind of a work in progress until we get everything totally in place,” he said.

“The kids have worked through it for a year. You hope you continually see some improvement. Experience has to go along with that. I don’t take the so-called critics part of it, because I think everybody has got to understand the circumstances around everything when things are new. I didn’t expect this thing to be a work of perfection or I would have come here for one year and left and that’s not my intention.”

Fans have especially become restless over the last few weeks as Florida has combined to score 50 points against Louisiana-Lafayette and Jacksonville State. In years past, the Gators would put up that total in each of those two games. Pease did not say outright that Florida has been purposely hiding things the last two weeks, though he did note that the team has been thoughtfully vanilla.

“When you go into the last few games, you hope you don’t have to use a whole lot because you feel the match-ups are probably in your favor. We didn’t show a lot the last game. We kept things pretty simple. I think that was our intention,” he said. “It worked out because of a new quarterback, because of what they were presenting to us defensively. We still had things in the game plan, but we didn’t get to a situation where we really had to use things that were quite exotic.”

Read the rest of this post…after the break!
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11/19: Driskel will play, Florida no longer “soft”

No. 4 Florida Gators head coach Will Muschamp met with the media on Monday to review the team’s shutout victory over the Jacksonville State Gamecocks and preview Saturday’s game against the No. 10 Florida State Seminoles.

INJURY UPDATES

Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel, who sprained his ankle two weeks ago and did not see the field against Jacksonville State, “will play” on Saturday against Florida State. Muschamp said Monday that Driskel could return to practice but will be held out until Tuesday for precautionary reasons and so he can get additional treatment. From there, he will see how well Driskel can play and how comfortable he is on his ankle, which will determine how much field time he sees Saturday.

“He will play in the game. To what degree? The week will determine that on how his health continues to improve,” he said. “We’re going to see how the week goes. I don’t know. I know right now, based on [Sunday], that he will play in the game. How much he’ll play, whether he’s going to start, I don’t know that right now.”

Muschamp was careful not to name Driskel the starter but that does not mean the designation will not come later in the week. He has yet to see Driskel practice on his injured ankle and is hedging his bets right now. If Driskel practices in full this week, especially towards the end of the week, there should be no doubt that he will start and be active for the full compliment of plays on Saturday.

Also coming off the injury report are redshirt sophomore linebacker Neiron Ball (ankle), redshirt sophomore right tackle Chaz Green (ankle), redshirt junior wide receiver Andre Debose (knee) and sophomore fullback Hunter Joyer (thigh), all of whom will take Monday off as a precaution before returning to practice on Tuesday. Each is expected to be healthy enough to take on FSU in six days.

Muschamp said Saturday that sophomore safety De’Ante Saunders and redshirt sophomore guard Ian Silberman (shoulder) are out for the season, though no specifics were provided on Saunders.

Read the rest of what Muschamp had to say…after the break!
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Gator Bites for Thursday, October 25

From time to time, OGGOA will come across a plethora of news and notes that we wish to share – too much to fit into one of our truncated BITS segments. In these instances, or when stories fall through the cracks, we catch and wrap them all up with Gator Bites.

» OGGOA learned this week that the Florida Gators basketball team is set to scrimmage the Rollins Tars on Saturday in Gainesville, FL. Florida usually hosts another team for a scrimmage before the season begins and practiced against Central Florida in this spot one year ago. Former Gators forward Adam Allen and walk-on guard Kyle McClanahan both now play for Rollins as Allen is re-starting his basketball career following multiple knee surgeries and McClanahan transferred in order to play more.

» ESPN’s Andy Katz confirmed on Wednesday that Florida and Georgetown will both be wearing camouflage uniforms for the Navy/Marine Corps Classic in Jacksonville, FL on Nov. 9. The uniforms have not yet been received by either school as Nike is putting the finishing touches on them before producing and shipping them out.

» Here’s a fun commercial for the 2012-13 basketball season: “Live Live in the Dome.”

» The University of Florida and University of Georgia student governments established a rivalry trophy in 2009 for the annual football series between the two schools. Though the Gators held the Okefenokee Oar the first two years it existed, the Bulldogs got to bring it back to Athens, GA last year. Anxious to get it back, UF built a display case for the trophy in the Reitz Union, which the student government hopes can be filled with the oar following the game. More from The Gainesville Sun.

Read EIGHT more Gator Bites…after the break!
Continue Reading » Gator Bites for Thursday, October 25

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FOUR BITS: soccer, volleyball, Raymond, Starks

1 » Coming off a terrific weekend where they managed a draw and victory over a pair of ranked opponents, No. 22 Florida Gators soccer was feeling the momentum heading into a showdown with the No. 1 Florida State Seminoles on Friday. FSU (3-0) put that sense to rest quickly, scoring 10 minutes into the match via a header off a throw-in and holding off Florida for the remainder of the contest (despite UF finding a number of scoring opportunities) to earn a hard-fought 1-0 victory. The Gators got a measure of revenge Sunday by dominating the Florida International Panthers in their first home match in more than two weeks. Florida (2-2-1) won 3-0 over FIU (2-2) thanks to a pair of goals from sophomore midfielder Havana Solaun (13’, 58’) and another from redshirt senior forward McKenzie Barney at 27’. UF has a light weekend ahead, hosting New Mexico on Sunday at 1 p.m. before beginning their league slate next week.

2 » No. 18 Gators volleyball also faced some stiff competition over the weekend while up in University Park, PA competing in the Nike Big Four Classic. Florida (3-2) was swept 3-0 by the No. 2 Texas Longhorns (5-0) on Friday and fell 3-1 to the No. 9 Stanford Cardinal (3-2) on Saturday. Freshman outside hitter Ziva Recek stood out in a big way against Texas, recording 22 kills which “marks the best 3-set hitting performance by a freshman in Florida history and ties her for third-best in a 3-set match in program history,” according to the school. She continued her dominance on Saturday with 15 more kills in the four-set match. Junior middle back Chloe Mann combined for 29 kills over the two games. UF will now remain home for its next four matches as it plays the Slovenian Junior National Team in an exhibition game Monday before hosting the Active Ankle Challenge (in which they will play three games) from Sept. 7-8.

3 » Coming off an Olympic bronze medal in mixed doubles, former Gators tennis star Lisa Raymond hoped to keep the magic going while competing in the US Open, the major in which she has found the most career success, over the weekend. Unfortunately Raymond, as part of the No. 2-ranked mixed doubles pairing with fellow American Mike Bryan, fell to Brazil in first-round action and was eliminated from the tournament. She and partner Liezel Huber, the No. 1-ranked women’s doubles duo in the world, did advance to the third round of that tournament but lost to the No. 16-ranked team from Spain 6-4, 2-6, 6-4. Raymond has won 13 career grand slam titles, five of which (three women’s doubles, two mixed doubles) have come at the US Open.

4 » Former Florida offensive lineman Max Starks, coming off a pair of injuries in as many seasons, has twice now been tossed to the scrap heap by the Pittsburgh Steelers only to be brought back as a major contributor. After signing a four-year, $26.3 million contract in the 2009 offseason, Starks was cut in July of 2011 after neck problems and weight issues gave the team cause for concern. Pittsburgh wound up re-signing him after injuries plagued their offensive line, and Starks started at left tackle for the rest of the season. He then tore his anterior cruciate in the Steelers’ playoff loss and did not have his one-year contract renewed. However, just like last season, Pittsburgh brought him back (this time in July) on a one-year deal. The team announced this weekend that Starks will be their starting left tackle on opening day. “There was no way I was thinking when I get healthy they’ll re-sign me,” Starks told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “I wanted to get healthy and figured teams will be out there, and, if I have to wait through training camp and into the season like last year, I’ll do that, prepare for that. It just so happens, there was an opportunity to come back. It was a blessing.”

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Florida baseball completes season sweep of FSU

Despite entering Tuesday’s game having lost five of their last seven games, No. 4 Florida Gators baseball (26-8) completed the season series sweep of the No. 1 Florida State Seminoles (27-6) for the first time since 1958 with a big 6-3 victory on the road at Dick Howser Stadium in Tallahassee, FL.

Florida came from behind to defeat Florida State in all three of their games in 2012, taking down their in-state rivals 9-2 on March 13 in Gainesville, FL and 4-1 on March 27 in a neutral site game in Jacksonville, FL. With Tuesday night’s victory, UF has now swept FSU and Miami in the same season for the first time in school history.

After going down in order to start the game, Florida found themselves in an early hole as Florida State took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first off a solo homer by second baseman Devon Travis. The Gators loaded the bases with one out in each of the next two innings but stranded all six base runners and failed to get on the board.

The Seminoles made their visitors pay in the bottom of the third, jumping ahead 3-0 after a throwing error by UF junior catcher Mike Zunino and a sacrifice fly by FSU C Stephen McGee allowed two runs to cross the plate.

Florida would not stay down for long, however, finally getting on the board in the next frame. Junior shortstop Nolan Fontana walked to lead-off the fourth, moved over to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored on a looper double to right by senior center fielder Daniel Pigott (2/4, RBI, BB).

The Gators tied things up in the fifth when freshman 2B Casey Turgeon singled up the middle and Zunino (2/5, HR, 2 RBI, R) followed by smacking a two-run homer to left. It was not long before Florida took and increased their lead on Florida State. UF loaded the bases again in the sixth though only Fontana scored after Turgeon (3/5, RBI, R) singled to left with two outs. Fontana (2/3, HR, RBI, 3 R, 2 BB) continued his stellar offensive performance the next inning with a solo shot to right in the seventh to give his team a two-run cushion.

Though the Gators undoubtedly got the help of some clutch hitting in the middle innings, the pitching in relief of junior left-handed starter Brian Johnson (3.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, BB, 4 K) was perhaps even more impressive.

Freshman right-hander Ryan Harris forced eight ground ball outs and registered one strikeout in three no-hit innings, and junior LHP Steven Rodriguez followed by striking out the side (all looking) in the bottom of the seventh. Junior closer Austin Maddox then came on to finish things up, registering the final five outs of the ballgame.

Florida will look to build on Tuesday’s victory when they travel to Knoxville, TN for a three-game weekend series against Tennessee on Friday (6 p.m.), Saturday (3 p.m.) and Sunday (2 p.m.). Saturday’s contest will air live on FOX Sports Florida.

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No. 1 Florida tops No. 4 FSU 4-1 in Jacksonville

A three-run sixth inning led No. 1 Florida Gators baseball (23-2) to a 4-1 victory over the No. 4 Florida State Seminoles (21-4) in front of 10,751 fans on Tuesday night at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville in Jacksonville, FL. The win was Florida’s second against their in-state rival this season and clinched the three-game season series that is spread over 27 days in three separate locations.

The Gators defeated the Seminoles 9-2 on March 13 and will travel to Tallahassee, FL on April 10 to play the final game of the series.

Senior right-handed pitcher Greg Larson got the start for UF and began the contest on fire by allowing just one hit over his first three frames. However, Larson (3.2 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, 4 K) encountered some resistance in the top of the fourth as a lead-off double came around due to some solid base running and questionable fielding decisions. He was replaced by sophomore left-hander Daniel Gibson (1.2 IP, H, 2 BB, K), who got the final out of the inning to limit the damage.

Florida stranded pairs of runners on base in the fourth and fifth. Gibson struggled in the top of the sixth, giving up a leadoff walk and a single before throwing two passed balls and an intentional walk to load the bases. Freshman RHP Johnny Magliozzi entered the unenviable situation but was able to force a grounder that the Gators’ defense turned into a 5-4-3 double play to get out of the inning unscathed.

The momentum appeared to swing at that point as Florida capitalized in the bottom of the inning. With two on and two out, freshman second baseman Casey Turgeon (1/3, 2 RBI, R, BB) lofted a ball just over the center fielder’s head and legged it out into a triple to score both base runners. He reached home one batter later when junior left fielder Vickash Ramjit (2/4, 2 RBI) hit a sharp single to right to give the Gators a 4-1 lead.

Magliozzi (3-0, 0.2 IP) earned the victory as junior LHP Steven Rodriguez (2.0 IP, H, 2 K) and junior closer Austin Maddox (S8, 1.0 IP, 2 K) shut the door on FSU.

The victory marked UF’s first over Florida State in Jacksonville since 2007. It was also the first time the Gators had defeated the Seminoles in a regular season series since 2009. Turgeon and senior center fielder Daniel Pigott (1/4) each registered their first career triples in the contest.

Florida now has 13 come-from-behind victories in 2012 as well as a 10-2 record against ranked opponents (7-1 against top-10 teams).

The Gators are now halfway through their eight-game road trip and will pick it up on Friday for the beginning of a three-game series against Ole Miss in Oxford, MS.

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