52 weeks ago, Jimbo Fisher led FSU to a win in Gainesville, his fourth in a row over Florida, but then, left Tallahassee in an ugly desertion for Texas A&M.
52 weeks ago, the Gators had already fired Jim McElwain, and with the loss to the Seminioles at home, concluded a humbling 4-7 season.
What a difference 52 weeks in rebuilding for both.
This as the Gators dominant and convincing 41 – 14 demolition of rival Florida State showed just how much farther along Florida is in that process.
In almost any aspect of this decisive win that you looked, Florida was better.
Better at running the ball? Yep.
282 yards on the ground and 5.4 yards per attempt was basically the difference in the game. A big part of that was Lamical Perine, who finished with 128 yards and and ripped off a 74-yard run to give the Gators an early 10 – 0 lead.
However, both Jordan Scarlett who averaged 4.4 yards per carry with 88 yards and a touchdown, and quarterback Felipe Franks who had another 46 yards and a 3.8 average, were also effective throughout the game.
The Gators knew coming in that Florida State’s defense was vulnerable and Coach Dan Mullen and his staff exploited it especially with the read option and slashing off-tackle runs.
Were the Gators the more disciplined team? You bet.
Of course it doesn’t take much to be more disciplined in the Seminoles, who were the worst team in the ACC and one of the bottom 10 teams in all of FBS football, the number of penalties in yardage per game. And just as they’ve done all year, Florida State had costly penalties at the absolute wrong time.
This included the nullification of a huge early second quarter 70-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Deondre Francois to running back Cam Akers, because of an illegal shift. Something that Florida state did twice more later in the game. Thus proving they haven’t learned all season, or even in the same game, how to line up and move correctly.
The next costly self-inflicted penalty was against the first drive of the second half for Florida. With FSU still in the game down 13 to 7, they stopped the Gators on 3rd and 7 at their 10-yard line and apparently forced a field goal attempt. However, defensive back Stanford Samuels III ended up getting a personal foul for unnecessary roughness for taking a swing at Florida receiver Van Jefferson, while the two were locked up and the play was well over. That 15-yard penalty gave the Gators an automatic first down and two plays later Franks hit Josh Hammond with a 3-yard touchdown to push the lead 20 to 7.
Florida really never looked back from there.
The Gators and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham repeatedly dialed up stunts and blitzes, as the second half went on that confused a beleaguered Florida State offensive line. Florida defensive lineman Jachai Polite had 2.5 of their five sacks on the day and had another 3.5 tackles for loss. Florida was clearly well prepared to handle anything the Noles were going to try to throw at them with drop backs or read options of their own.
In the end, the Gators snapped a five-game losing streak to their arch-rival. It has to sweet for Dan Mullen, got his first win as a head coach in Gainesville at the expense of the other coach making his debut, Willie Taggart.
Florida can also take consolation that the loss ended Florida State’s 41 year run of having winning seasons (now 5-7) dating back to 1977. The Noles will also be left out of a bowl game for the first time in 37 years.
Yes, it was a humbling Saturday for sure for Florida State and their fans, as they realize just how far they have to go to get back to where Florida, who finished the regular season 9-3 already is now and rebuilding.
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.