Florida State (9-2) vs. Florida (10-1) 7:00 pm
The Seminoles are 4-1 the last five meetings against Florida and have won by an average margin of victory of 18.2 points per game.
The Seminoles are averaging 32.8 points per game and are very balanced rushing for 183 yards per game along with passing for 251 yards per game. Quarterback Sean Maguire has stepped up to lead the offense and is completing 65% of his passes for 968 yards with 8 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. The Seminoles like to run the football to dictate the tempo and running back Dalvin Cook is one of the best backs in the nation. Cook has great vision and breakaway speed and is a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the rock. He leads the team with 1,475 yards averaging 7.9 yards per carry with 16 touchdowns and has played his best in the team’s biggest games of the year. Cook gives the offense options in the passing game because of his pass catching ability and is utilized in the short to intermediate passing game. Florida State will look to get him involved early on to put the pressure on a struggling Gators offense to play catch up. Wide receivers Travis Rudolph, Kermit Whitfield and Jesus Wilson form a solid trio of pass catchers and have combined for 147 receptions for 1,899 yards with 14 touchdowns. The Seminoles have played much better with Maguire guiding the offense and will look to push the tempo on Saturday against the Gators in the Swamp. This will be Maguire’s second big start on the road this season (started in Death Valley vs. Clemson-loss) and look for head coach Jimbo Fisher build Maguire’s confidence with short passes early on. If Maguire struggles, Fisher can go to backup and former starter Everett Golson, who has thrown for 11 touchdowns and 3 interceptions on the season. Golson does have big game experience which is an asset heading into this game.
The Seminoles are giving up 17 points per game and have played well on the defensive side of the ball this year. The unit is allowing 143 rushing yards per game and is surrendering 190 passing yards per game. Look for the Seminoles to be aggressive early on to force the Gators into third down and long situations. Florida has struggled offensively the last few weeks and the Seminoles will want to take advantage of that. Turnovers have been a concern for the Seminoles this year and while the team is +4 in turnover margin, the unit has only recorded 7 interceptions through 11 games this season. On the year, the Seminoles have 25 total sacks with defensive lineman Demarcus Walker leading the team with 8. Florida State must be able to shut down the run on Saturday and force Gators quarterback Treon Harris to throw over the top of the secondary. Florida will want to run the football at home and over the last five games-the Seminoles defense has allowed 178 rushing yards per game to their opponents.
Since the Gators victory over Georgia four weeks ago, the team has been lethargic offensively in wins over Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Florida Atlantic. However, the offense has come alive this season in the team’s biggest games (Tennessee, Ole Miss, LSU and Georgia) and has found ways of moving the football according to their opponent’s defensive weaknesses. The Gators will want to run the football on Saturday night and the offense is averaging 137 yards per game along with passing for 222 yards per game. The offensive line will be the key to the victory and must be able to wear down the Seminoles defensive front seven. Quarterback Treon Harris has struggled in the passing attack and will need to be able to complete some deep passes to loosen up the Seminoles defense. Harris has completed 54.6% of his passes for 1,231 yards with 8 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. Harris is a mobile quarterback that can make plays with his feet and the Gators have utilized moving the pocket to give Harris the option to run or pass. Running back Kelvin Taylor will be needed to step up and have a big day on Saturday night. Taylor leads the team with 834 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. He is a tough inside runner that can wear down defenses and open up the play action passing attack for Harris later in the game. Wide receivers Antonio Calloway, Demarcus Robinson and Brandon Powell are a speedy group of players that can take the top off of the defense and make big plays. On the year, the trio have combined for 99 receptions for 1,390 yards with 9 touchdowns.
The strength of the team this year has been the defense which is giving up 14.5 points per game and has the ability to take over a game at any time. The Gators are very good at stopping the run and are allowing 108 rushing yards per game along with giving up 173 passing yards per game. The Gators are very strong in the interior line with tackle Johnathan Bullard (5.5 sacks) and defensive end Alex McCallister (6.5 sacks). Both players have great size and force double teams by opposing offensive lines which allow the Gators linebackers to fill running lanes and stuff the run. However, both players are listed as doubtful for this game on the injury report. The Gators are very physical up front and will pose a problem to the Seminoles running game on Saturday. Florida has one of the best secondaries in college football, which allows the Gators to play man to man coverage and utilize blitz packages to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Seminole quarterback Sean Maguire is a pure pocket passer and look for the Gators to pressure him early on from the interior of the line of scrimmage. On the year, the Gators have recorded 36 sacks through 11 games and are +10 in turnover margin this season. Florida is allowing their opponents to convert 31% on third down opportunities.
Check the injury report as the week progresses as the Gators have multiple offensive and defensive injuries entering this game on Saturday.
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Joseph Lisi a former ABC Sports college football researcher, is the owner of www.GOFORTHE2.COM. He is a member if the FWAA (Football Writers Association Of America),Maxwell Football Club and is currently the content editor atwww.2FiveSports.com.He contributes regularly to www.Sid-Rosenberg.com and has been a featured guest every Tuesday night from 10:30-11:30pm EST on Yahoo Sports Radio With Ken Thomson(www.sportsxradio.com).
Joe has been featured on the FNTSY Sports Network and The Sid Rosenberg Sports Radio Show 640AM Sports (South Florida). You can follow him on Twitter: @Goforthe2.
Joe has a weekly radio show on www.blogtalkradio.com with former Georgia Bulldogs WR Corey Allen called: