After starting out 0-4, it has to feel good for FSU fans to be fighting for a bowl in the last week of the season. Not many people would have predicted something like this for the battle between the 'Noles and the Gators. Both teams are a win away from bowl eligibility, and one team is fresh off of firing their head coach.
Nonetheless, the Florida State Seminoles (5-6, 4-4 ACC) are headed down to Gainesville to take on their arch-rival, the Florida Gators (5-6, 2-6 SEC). The 'Noles go into this one as an underdog for the fifth straight week, and the Gators will be favored for the fourth straight.
Florida State has shown us that they use being underdogs as nothing other than motivation. So, will they pull off an upset once again this week? Yes, they will, in a big way.
1. Jermaine Johnson and Kier Thomas combine for 2+ sacks and 4+ TFL's.
Anyone can tell you the impact these two graduate transfers have had on a young Florida State team, so let me just give you the quick stats. The defensive end tandem has combined for 17 sacks, 28.5 TKLs, and 103 tackles. We've seen each of the two completely dominate an entire game. In fact, in the past two weeks, Johnson and Thomas have combined for 5 sacks, 9 TFLs, and 8 QB hurries. I am confident that they continue to dominate in likely their last game in the garnet and gold (assuming they skip a potential bowl game).
However, it won't be easy for the two this week. Florida has had a top 10 offensive line in terms of sacks allowed this season, only allowing 11. On top of that, this is one of the rare occasions where Florida State's opponent has faced another opponent with a comparable front four (Alabama, Georgia). So, putting presumed starter Anthony Richardson under pressure is going to be tough.
But Jermaine Johnson has shown up when it has mattered most this season, there's no questioning that. I expect him, and his co-star, to show everyone how dominant they are this week.
2. Jordan Travis goes for 350+ total yards and 5 touchdowns.
Whenever #13 is on the field for the 'Noles, plays are made. That has been especially true recently considering the improvements Travis has made with his arm this season. For those who want to deny the Seminoles starting quarterback's success, consider this. In his last six games, Travis has a 66% completion percentage, 1100 yards, and a 10/1 touchdown to interception ratio while leading them to a 5-1 record.
This is supposed to be the weakness of his game. Adding in his ability to run the ball and you have one heck of a college quarterback.
Head coach Mike Norvell and OC Kenny Dillingham have done an incredible job scheming up plays for an offense that isn't full of talent. And boy will they have a field day this Saturday. Florida's defense has been anything but good recently. In the past 3 games (all losses), UF's defense has given up 1275 yards and 116 points. This has come against the likes of South Carolina, Samford, and Missouri; three teams who don't exactly scream, "high powered offense!".
Behind a good mix of passes and runs, Jordan Travis will dominate the Seminoles' arch-rival.
3. Florida State never trails Florida, and wins by three scores
I'm not entirely sure what to expect this week from the Gators. I do know that I wouldn't be shocked if they quit early after losing their head coach less than a week ago; while Florida State was a good officiating crew away from pummeling Boston College a week ago. These are two programs going in opposite directions, which could lead to this one getting ugly.
After bullying the Gators in their own house, the 'Noles will go bowling for the first time in two seasons.