Three keys to an FSU win over Florida
NOV 29, 2013 9:19a ET
Florida may be riddled by injuries and suffering through a six-game losing streak.
But Jimbo Fisher knows that the Gators have talent on the roster. Because Fisher and his staff have recruited many of those players, too.
"We always end up recruiting a lot of the same guys,” Fisher said. “When you look at their roster, I know 80 percent of their guys."
And that’s where things could get interesting on Saturday when No. 2 Florida State (11-0) and Florida (4-7) face off in Gainesville. Everyone, including most Gators fans, expect the Seminoles to win. And Las Vegas has Florida State as a four-touchdown favorite.
It’s hard to fathom Florida State defeating Florida by 28 points. Because it hasn’t happened since 1988, when the Seminoles won 52-17.
But in a rivalry game, and especially one on the road, you can’t always expect things to go smoothly. This is Florida’s bowl game, and many of those recruits now on the Gators’ sideline will want to play for pride. And for the Gators’ seniors, it’s their last chance to play at the Swamp.
Florida State is looking for its fourth perfect regular season in school history (1979, 1996, 1999). For the Seminoles to do it, they will need to focus in on three key things:
Limit the turnovers
Normally, it's the obvious key for every game. But this is really the Gators' only chance to win.
Florida State has only turned it over 13 times all season, with the running backs fumbling just three times on 399 carries. And while Jameis Winston has seven of Florida State’s 10 interceptions, the Seminoles have not allowed those to come back to haunt them.
Florida has forced 17 turnovers (nine interceptions, eight fumbles) in 11 games.
But, simply put, if Florida State doesn’t turn it over, or just gives up one, it’s hard to picture the Seminoles losing.
Stop Florida's run
The Gators' offense has struggled, and that's an understatement. Being held to 20 points or fewer in six straight weeks, and losing those games, has Gators fans longing for the Fun ‘n’ Gun days of Steve Spurrier.
If Florida is forced to go with No. 3 quarterback Skyler Mornhinweg, and it appears that the Gators may need to, he won't be able to beat FSU with his arm. Mornhinweg just doesn’t have the linemen and playmakers for a successful passing game.
The Gators will try to run early, hoping to sustain drives and shorten the game. Florida will need to convert on third-and-short, but Florida State is only allowing opponents to convert 31 percent of the time.
Florida State knows that Florida’s best chance to win is to hand off repeatedly to 5-10, 215-pound tailback Kelvin Taylor. The freshman ran for 96 yards at South Carolina and 92 yards against Georgia Southern, and Florida State will have its hands full keeping him to short gains.
Florida State is only allowing 121 rushing yards per game, and the Seminoles have the edge up front against an injury-depleted Florida offensive line.
Maintain the focus
Since the Boston College game, a 48-34 win on Sept. 28, nobody has come close to beating Florida State. Miami was in the game at the half, but the Seminoles soon pulled away to win 41-14.
Florida State has talent and depth, and this team is mentally tough. The Seminoles have kept their composure and focus every game. There were worries how the team would play at Clemson, and Florida State silenced the crowd and sent many Tigers fans home early. The same could happen at the Swamp on Saturday.
Early on, there may be a few silly penalties or mistakes. But Florida State has played in tough situations on the road. On Tuesday, the team was forced to practice at the new indoor practice facility due to heavy thunderstorms in Tallahassee. The constant pounding of rain on the roof made for good preparation for the crowd noise that Florida State will encounter in the Swamp.
+ SHOW COMMENTS +