Florida and Florida State are set to meet up for their yearly rivalry game Saturday. The two programs are currently going into two different trajectories.
The Gators are looking to make a second straight New Years Six game under Dan Mullen. The Noles are scrambling, but looking to end the season strong with intern coach Odell Haggins.
This game will not match those of 1990-2000 when every matchup was a top 10 affair but despite these two teams being in two different positions, that doesn’t mean this can not be a good game.
Before the Noles parted ways with Willie Taggart, many would have said they expect the Gators to run the Noles out of Gainesville. Since Haggins has taken over, FSU has looked like a different team playing harder. The Noles also have yet to face any stiff competition with Haggins in charge; this will be his first actual test and maybe his only test.
A decisive loss here and that could very well end any consideration for him becoming the long-term coach. A win, however, and that could boost his stock up for this job like never before.
For the Noles to win this game, they will have to do something they have struggled to do this season, and that is play a complete game and finish. Don’t expect the Noles to win in blowout fashion, so they will need to keep the game close and make Florida have to make some pressure plays. They will need to put up points to keep up in this game, and that starts at quarterback.
The Noles have had QB James Blackman running the show with the speed of third string QB Jordan Travis coming in here and there, to run the ball. Backup QB Alex Hornibrook was back at practice this week, and it will be interesting to see what the Noles do with the most important position on the offense.
On the other side of the field, the Gators have relied on Kyle Trask, and he has delivered with a 66.8 completion percentage and 21 touchdowns. The Gators will be throwing a lot in this game Florida State has the 114th ranked pass defense. The Gators also have the 12th ranked total defense.
This will be the second-best defense the Noles will face all season. With all of the problems the FSU O-line has had this year, look for Gators DC Todd Grantham to get creative and send some well-designed blitzes at the Noles.
RB Cam Akers and WR Tamorrian Terry have been the whole offense for the Noles this season. Expect the Gators to key in on those two play-makers and force someone else to step up. The Gators haven’t beaten FSU at home since the Tim Tebow days, ten years ago.
Florida will want nothing more than to end that streak under the lights.
Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday
The Florida Gators continued their philosophy of striking “home-and-home” deals with Power 5 opposition, when they announced on Friday that they will be doing so with the Cal-Berkley Bears out of the Pac-12 coming later in this decade.
The Gators made the announcement through their website and social media mid-day Friday that they will play Cal at home first and then travel to Berkeley the following year:
Coast to coast❗
🐻 at 🐊 2026
🐊 at 🐻 2027#GoGators
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) February 7, 2020
A.D. Scott Stricklin has broken up the long tradition that Florida would only play two home out of conference games in September and usually, against much lesser competition before entering SEC play. Stricklin has been very outspoken that in the age of the College Football Playoff, strength of schedule is emphasized and the selection committee holds schools responsible for not playing top-notch out of conference opponents, at least some of the time.
With that in mind, the Gators opened the 2019 season in Orlando against the Miami Hurricanes and won a sloppy game. And, they already have other Power 5 schools laid out to play home and away.
As we previously wrote, Florida will be playing the Texas Longhorns first in Gainesville in 2030 and then. return the game the following year in Austin.
Florida had previously announced last year that they will also play the Colorado Buffaloes out of the Pac-12, again with the first game in Gainesville in 2028 and then, returning it to Boulder the following season.
It’s interesting with Friday’s announcement that Stricklin and the football program are working backwards with the schedule. And, they will now play Cal before Colorado in September of 2026, and then will be opening on the Berkeley campus the following season.
Florida and Cal have only met two times, having played first in Gainesville in 1974 as the Gators wo 21 – 17 and then, they also met in Tampa to open the 1980 season with a Florida 41-13 blowout victory.
Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools
National Signing Day 2020 has come and gone, and several in state schools were able to improve their classes heading into spring ball. The University of Florida watched rival Georgia secure the number one overall class, but the Gators were still able to land the best class in the state with the number eight class overall.
The Gators officially signed former five-star receiver Justin Shorter from Penn State, and Florida stayed in the family today as well, Xzavier Henderson officially joined the Gators. He’s the ounger brother of former DB C.J. Henderson.
Dan Mullen also able to dip into the state of Texas inking four-star DE Princely Umanmielen. It wasn’t all great news for the Gators, as they missed out on a few key guys, including losing out on arguably top state safety Avantae Williams to in state rival Miami. Overall it was a good cycle for the Gators both recruiting and in the transfer portal.
The Miami Hurricanes continued an impressive offseason on National Signing Day. The Canes made arguably the biggest move in the state by landing Williams and keeping him Florida. Williams became the highest rated Hurricane in the class and propelled the U to the number 13 spot.
Miami has the second-best class in the ACC behind Clemson. With an impressive offseason in the books, once again excitement will be in the air in Coral Gables. The question is: will they live up to it in year two for Manny Diaz?
Florida State and new coach Mike Norvell have been working hard to get this class rolling last minute. After a good early National Signing Day Norvell looked to keep the momentum going. The Noles took a big hit Wednesday though, with the loss of Venice four star WR, Malachi Wideman, who flipped to Tennessee.
The Noles came back from that by landing a handful of other recruits. They got the number six Juco running back La’Damian Webb, ass well as, Robert Scott, an offensive lineman and Corey Wren, an athlete/running back.
Replacing Cam Akers will be tough for Norvell and building the offensive line is a top priority. The former Memphis coach came in late like he did, yet he finishes with a decent class sitting at 22 on 24/7.
Now the work begins turning around the former powerhouse.