Florida-Florida State 2010 edition

November 27, 2010

The UF-FSU gameday article in the Florida Times-Union gets at the heart of what the game means to the two teams (and Florida State, especially).

It’s not about national championship hopes.  After the second game, even the most stubborn homers would acknowledge that this wasn’t going to be a top 5 season all-time.

It’s not about a BCS bowl.  By October’s end, both teams were reduced to seeking getting in through the conference championship back-door.  Florida’s slim hopes of doing so were eliminated after a loss to South Carolina two weeks ago.  Florida State is reduced to cheering for Maryland to upset North Carolina State to give the Seminoles a spot in the ACC Championship game.

It is about a streak of dominance of the Gators over the Seminoles.   A streak that predates all of the players presences with their teams as well as of those of their coaches.  To put it in the perspective of high school seniors deciding which school to play for: They were in fifth grade the last time Florida State won.

It has  been seven long years since the oft derided Chris Rix heaved a bomb to P.K. Sam to seal a Florida State victory in Gainesville.  FSU has not won since. To review:

-In Ron Zook’s last game regular season game as the Gators’ coach, un-ranked UF won 20-13 as an attempt to rekindle Chris Rix’ magic from a year ago by bringing him off the bench fell short.

– Urban Meyer’s inaugural game was a success as UF won 34-7.

– His first game in Tallahassee also went his way, 21-14.

– A 60 yard field goal was a lone high spot for FSU in the middle of a 45-12 beat-down driven by five Tim Tebow touchdowns.

– Christian Ponder’s first start in this rivalry  did not go well.  After a second interception (on the first play of the second half), he was benched in favor of senior Drew Weatherford.  It made little difference as Florida won 45-15

– Ponder did not play in last season’s game; he had suffered a season-ending injury three games earlier. In what ended up being Bobby Bowden’s last game in Tallahassee as well as his final against the Gators, Florida rolled over the EJ Manuel quarterbacked ‘Noles 37-10.

So, here we are, with Christian Ponder’s last chance to beat the Gators along with the first opportunity for head coach Jimbo Fisher to do so.  Florida State is a narrow favorite, the first time they have been in that position since the losing streak started.

I have no prediction to offer; the full range of outcomes seem possible to me. I will note that both sides will be tense if it comes down to a field-goal attempt.  Both kickers have missed potential game winners this season (though Florida State’s kicker, Dustin Hopkins subsequently redeemed himself with a 53 yard game-winner.)

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