It's the regular-season finale in The Swamp, featuring Florida Gators and Florida State Seminoles teams that are both on the prowl for bowl game contention.
On one end, the Gators appear unstable but motivated, having just fired their head coach on Sunday and hoping to end the year positively after significant turbulence. On the other, however, Florida State has found momentum throughout the second half of the season with a 5-2 record since early October.
The Gators are considered just 2.5-point favorites over the Seminoles, according to the Sports Illustrated Sportsbook, with the over/under set at 59 points.
You can find AllGators' picks, predictions and takes for the regular-season finale below.
Zach Goodall (8-3): Florida 27, Florida State 24
I could no longer pick Florida with confidence to win games it is supposed to win last week, which led me to project a loss to Missouri last week.
That prediction came true. And then Dan Mullen was fired.
Now, running backs coach/special teams coordinator Greg Knox will fill in as the Gators' interim head coach, a position he's been in before. He filled in for Mullen at Mississippi State for the 2017 Taxslayer Bowl, and won his lone game in the role before joining Florida's coaching staff.
I have no other reason to confidently think UF wins this Saturday other than the fact that Knox has an undefeated record as an interim coach. But for some reason, that's enough for me to pick the Gators.
Don't sleep on FSU, though, because the Seminoles are more than capable of pulling off a victory and preventing UF from reaching a bowl, which is undoubtedly the goal of Florida's arch, in-state rivals. Jashaun Corbin has been a spark for FSU's offense and Jermaine Johnson has emerged as one of the nation's elite edge defenders.
Still, I'm buying the talent across Florida's entire roster over FSU's, and I believe the Gators will be motivated to end the season on a high note following Mullen's dismissal.
Demetrius Harvey (7-4): Florida, 20, Florida State 34
The Gators are undergoing serious changes to its entire coaching staff following the ousting of former head coach Dan Mullen. Now, with the program going through some turmoil, they look to take on one of their most hated rivals in the Florida State Seminoles.
This game has the makings of a trap for Florida as they are surrounded by plenty of distractions. While, yes, the team will want to win the game itself, no one can argue that losing your head coach can sometimes lead to less focus, especially at the collegiate level.
Going up against FSU, a team that is plenty hungry and hot at the right time isn't a good recipe for victory for Florida.
With quarterback Jordan Travis leading the way for FSU at QB this season, the transfer has been solid, efficient and has thus far completed 63% of his passes this season for 1,337 yards, 14 touchdowns and five interceptions. This has come while splitting duties with McKenzie Milton throughout the year.
Florida's defense looked improved last week, but I can't see them having a repeat performance this week. For that reason, I'm going to predict a Florida State victory, and a bowl-less Gators team heading into next year early.
Brandon Carroll (8-3): Florida 28, Florida State 24
Florida travels back home to end a season that quickly spiraled out of control following just a two-point loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide in week three.
Both Florida State and Florida sit at 5-6 on the year, making this annual end-of-the-regular-season contest a battle for bowl eligibility in 2021. However, both teams are trending in opposite directions.
Mike Norvell, despite starting 0-4, has the Seminoles at 5-2 in their last six games, only dropping contests for Clemson and then-No. 19 NC State.
Meanwhile, Florida has lost four out of their last five games, and will enter the rivalry matchup with an interim head coach and defensive coordinator following the firings of head coach Dan Mullen and Todd Grantham in recent weeks.
I think Florida plays with high energy and effort in their last game of the season, trying to end the year on a good note. They will attempt to show that they are better than this season turned out to be against the Noles.
However, it won’t come as easily as it has against FSU in the past. This one will be a scrappy contest, decided by one score in the Swamp.
It could go either way, but I think Anthony Richardson starting at quarterback will be the difference-maker, leading Florida to survive a surging Florida State team.
Ethan Budowsky (7-3): Florida 24, Florida State 17
Did not submit a pick for Florida vs. Samford
These one-off games with an interim coach usually go one of two ways: Really well, or really bad. The good news for the Gators is there should be plenty of motivation for this one, as a win keeps them from avoiding the disastrous scenario of missing a bowl game.
If you had told anybody before the season the Gators would be desperate for a win against Florida State I would’ve called you crazy. I also would’ve called you crazy if you told me Florida State had any chance of winning this game.
Yet, here we are and this one feels like a toss-up. With the news that Anthony Richardson is the likely starter at quarterback, I think it gives Florida a boost. So should a home crowd that will be desperate for a positive end to the season. I think the Gators win an ugly one between two teams that are just not that good.
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