Florida vs Florida State
11.24.18 / 12:00 PM
Doak Campbell Stadium
Rivalry week is here and that means the Gators will face the hated Florida State Seminoles. Both teams have first year head coaches who are looking to take their first step towards supremacy in the Sunshine Showdown.
Dan Mullen has had both experience and success in this series as Florida’s offensive coordinator. During his tenure, the Gators never lost to State. With Saturday’s game, he will be attempting to continue his winning ways by putting an end to the longest losing streak the Gators have ever faced in the series.
On the other sideline, Willie Taggart has been embattled in his first year and the Seminoles are in danger of missing bowl eligibility for the first time in 37 years. A win for the Seminoles, would go a long way for Taggart in proving that he wasn’t just a desperation hire.
On paper, Florida State has the more talented roster. One that has been filled by top 5 classes and blue chip recruits. In reality, this year’s team has struggled with even the weakest opposition.
Florida State has lost four games by 19 or more points this season and has looked lost and confused in those losses. They are however, coming off of a win over a ranked opponent and now have the added motivation of a potential bowl berth.
The Gators will have plenty of motivation for this game as well. Ending the streak, earning a New Year’s Six bowl, and validating this season as more than a fluke will be at the top of the list.
The Gators will be facing a talented and dangerous defensive front on Saturday. Getting a good push off the line to open rushing lanes will be crucial to the Gators offensive success.
Florida State Seminoles
2018 record: 5-6
Head coach: Willie Taggart
State will likely be loading the box with 8 defenders and trying to put the game in the hands of Feleipe Franks. Not a bad strategy when facing a quarterback who, though much improved, has had a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde season.
Florida’s defensive front should be able to apply pressure in droves against one of the most porous offensive lines in the country. Deondre Francois has been sacked so many times this season that he has -25 yards through 67 rushing attempts.
There is much at stake for these two coaches and their respective programs. Both teams will be ready to punch the other in the mouth and leave it all on the field. The storyline for this game runs much deeper than the 12 p.m. kickoff would suggest.
Currently, the Gators are a 4.5 point favorite and should cover with ease.
They have out gained their opposition in 7 of their last 9 games. As the game wears on, I expect to see FSU’s defensive depth put to the test.
Dan Mullen should be able to win this game just by out coaching Willie Taggart. But coaches can only do so much. In the end, Mullen’s team will have to execute and perform with relentless effort.
With so much on the line, something tells me the boys of ol’ Florida will be ready to run through a brick wall for coach Mullen on Saturday.
You can watch the game live from Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday at noon. The game will be broadcast on ABC and as always, you can follow along with all of the action on the ChompTalk.com Facebook and Twitter accounts.