Florida vs. Florida State score, takeaways: Gators take control of state, dominate Noles in Swamp

By Adam Silverstein
December 1, 2019
Florida vs. Florida State score, takeaways: Gators take control of state, dominate Noles in Swamp
Football

Image Credit: GatorsFB / Twitter

If there was any question as to which college football team rules the Sunshine State, now that 2019 regular season is the books, the No. 11 Florida Gators have provided that answer. Florida (10-2) outclassed the Florida State Seminoles (6-6) on Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in a 40-17 victory that was even more dominant than the score indicates.

The Gators only allowed the ‘Noles one significant offensive series and were otherwise dominant in picking up their first win over their in-state rival in The Swamp since 2009 and clinching their first consecutive 10-win seasons since 2008-09. Dan Mullen became the third Florida coach to achieve such a mark, joining two others who led the Gators to national championships in Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer.

So what went down on Saturday night in The Swamp, and what does it mean for Florida football going forward? Let’s take a look at the Gators’ big win on Rivalry Week to close out the 2019 regular season.

1. This Florida team looks familiar: Not to create too outlandish expectations, but watching the Gators put up 467 yards of offense, get whatever they wanted in a rivalry game and roll through a packed stadium in their all-blue uniforms conjured images of the very teams whose marks Florida matched on Saturday night — the Meyer-led 2008-09 squads. No, there’s not a Tim Tebow or Percy Harvin or Joe Haden among this bunch, but the style of play and effectiveness of playcalling was apparent as it has been much of the season. That does not mean much for the Gators considering they are out of the College Football Playoff picture and (unfairly) teetering on the edge of a New Year’s Six bowl, but it should help in recruiting and as the team builds towards the 2020 season.

2. Kyle Trask is Florida’s starting quarterback. Period. Trask completed 30 of 41 passes for 343 yards and three touchdowns against FSU, his third game of 300+ yards and three scores this season. In doing so, the redshirt junior became the first UF quarterback to accomplish that since Tebow while completing 65 percent of his passes or better for the sixth time in 10 significant appearances this season. Trask has 21 passing touchdowns to six interceptions this season as a backup-turned-starter despite not playing major snaps since high school. He also added three rushing scores and became, as Mullen likes to say, a “willing runner” when needed.

With classmate Feleipe Franks recovering from a fractured ankle that will likely keep him out of spring practice — and Trask clearly outplaying him apples to apples now given a larger sample size — it would not be a surprise to see Franks leave the program as a graduate transfer with an opportunity to start at another school. Redshirt freshman Emory Jones flashed again against the ‘Noles, completing 5 of 6 throws for 47 yards passing and a touchdown to go along with a team-high 33 yards rushing. Mullen is clearly efforting to increase Jones’ opportunities, but while Jones is certainly the long-term answer and the perfect fit for Mullen’s system, starting him over Trask in 2020 seems like a difficult ask. But hey, if Nick Saban can move Jalen Hurts aside for Tua Tagovailoa, anything is possible.

3. The seniors showed out: It was an emotional Senior Day with so many fourth- and fifth-year players seeing key roles for the Gators this season. That emotion carried over to on-field excellence. Senior wide receiver Freddie Swain scored the first two touchdowns of the game and totaled 62 yards on five receptions but left early due to a tweaked knee. Redshirt senior Van Jefferson caught two touchdowns later in the game and finished second with 48 yards on five catches. Senior WR Tyrie Cleveland had a 45-yard kickoff return and caught four passes for 44 yards, and senior running back Lamical Perine — though he strangely did not get goal line touches — compiled 58 total yards. Graduate transfer defensive end Jon Greenard had three sacks, two solo tackles and a forced fumble, while senior linebacker David Reese II matched Greenard with six tackles.

4. Momentum has swung: Florida beat Miami and Florida State in the same season for the first time since 2008. After losing seven of eight games to the ‘Noles — many in blowout fashion — the Gators have dominated their annual rival 81-31 over the last two meetings, winning those games by an average of 25 points. UF outgained FSU 467-250, 397-175 after the teams’ opening series of the game and 390-181 through the air. The Gators had double the ‘Noles’ first downs (26-13), compiled eight sacks with 12 tackles for loss and were far more disciplined on Saturday night.

For all intents and purposes, Florida “owns the state,” particularly with UCF falling off as well this year. Though the Gators are facing tougher challenges than ever from out-of-state competition like Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and LSU, this should provide an opportunity for Florida on the recruiting trail. Mullen has proven that he can win with so-called “three-star talent,” but in order to compete at a national championship level with the aforementioned teams and others, the Gators need to use this momentum they have built over the last two seasons to their long-term advantage.

5. Odds and ends: Florida improved to 36-26-2 all-time against Florida State with a 21-12-1 edge in The Swamp … the Gators finished undefeated at home for the first time since 2016, third time this decade and 14th time in program history … Florida outscored opponents 237-33 in The Swamp this season … UF outscored opponents 253-85 in the second half and 114-29 in the fourth quarter this season … Florida is 15-2 against unranked teams under Mullen … the Gators improved to 14-0 when scoring first, 16-0 when leading after the third quarter, 15-0 when allowing 20 points or fewer and 16-0 when outrushing their opponent under Mullen … Florida has scored 100 offensive touchdowns in 25 games under Mullen after scoring 93 in 38 games from 2015-17 … the Gators scored 24+ points in 10 of 12 games this season … Florida’s 43 sacks this season are the most in a single year since 1999 … UF has scored in 397 consecutive games, an NCAA record

6. What’s next? The Gators wait. Florida will be hoping to earn a New Year’s Six bid to the Orange Bowl or Cotton Bowl but likely need help to get there after being placed behind Penn State in last week’s CFP Rankings. At worst, the Gators will play a New Year’s Day game either earning a spot in the Citrus Bowl (Orlando) or Outback Bowl (Tampa). However, it sure feels like a 10-2 Florida team with losses only to two of the top four teams in the nation should be in a New Year’s Six game. OnlyGators.com will have a break down of the team’s path to a bowl game on Sunday or Monday.

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