Many of the 61 all-time meetings between Florida State and Florida have been played with something more than in-state bragging rights on the line, but the 62nd edition of the “Sunshine Showdown” figures to be little more than a blip on the national radar. The Seminoles attempt to keep their bowl hopes alive Saturday when they visit a Florida team trying to end a four-game losing streak in this rivalry.
Florida State, which averaged a mere 18.1 points over its first nine contests and had not scored more than 27 points in a game all season long, surpassed the 30-point mark early in the second quarter last weekend and kept its foot on the pedal on its way to a 77-6 shellacking of FCS foe Delaware State. The Seminoles need to win out - this week and again next Saturday at home versus Louisiana-Monroe - in order to reach the six wins needed to reach the postseason and extend the nation’s longest active bowl streak to 41 consecutive seasons. The Gators earned their first victory since late September with last weekend’s 36-7 defeat of UAB, snapping a five-game skid and giving interim coach Randy Shannon his first win since the school and former coach Jim McElwain mutually parted ways on Oct. 29. This meeting marks the first time since 1959 and only the second time in series history that both teams will enter the game with a losing record.
TV: Noon ET, ESPN. LINE: Florida State -5
ABOUT FLORIDA STATE (4-6): The Seminoles scored in all three phases against the Hornets, putting together nine touchdown drives while also getting a 41-yard interception return TD from sophomore safety Derwin James and a 63-yard return score from Tarvarus McFadden following a blocked field goal. Freshman quarterback James Blackman was removed from the game before halftime due to the lopsided score, but not before he finished 11-of-15 for 179 yards and produced the first three-touchdown game of his career. Freshman defensive end Joshua Kaindoh registered a career-high four of Florida State’s season-high six sacks against Delaware State and was part of a team effort to hold the Hornets to 15 rushing yards - the lowest total by an opponent under eighth-year coach Jimbo Fisher.
ABOUT FLORIDA (4-6): The quarterback position has seemingly been in a constant state of flux all season long, but freshman Feleipe Franks made his seventh start of the year and went the distance against the Blazers, finishing 15-of-30 for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore Lamical Perine rushed for 86 yards on a career-high 20 carries versus UAB and scored his ninth touchdown, tying him for the fourth-most total touchdowns by a Gator running back since 1996. Eddy Pineiro, who became the first Florida kicker to convert five field goals since Arden Czyzewski did so in 1992, also became the first player in school history to connect on two 50-yard field goals in the same game last weekend.
1. Florida State has won six of the past seven meetings, but Florida leads the overall series 34-25-2.
2. The Seminoles have blocked an ACC-best five kicks - a mark that ranks second in FBS and is the most they have recorded in a season since 2006 (six).
3. The Gators rank second in the SEC and fourth in FBS in red zone scoring percentage (96.4), scoring on 27 of their 28 drives inside the 20 this season.
PREDICTION: Florida State 23, Florida 17