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Florida heavily favored over FSU but not unprecedented recently

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

The renewal of the most fierce rivalry in the state is coming this Saturday in Gainesville. And while the Gators are heavily favored to wipe out FSU, the oddsmakers don’t have it as lopsided, as you might think.

On Sunday, with both teams coming off of a bye, Vegas sportsbooks installed Florida, as an 18-point favorite, and while there was some initial money on Florida State that moved the line up a tick, it has now held steady for the last two days at around 17 or 17  1/2 points.

Make no mistake, everyone everywhere believes that Florida will win easily at the Swamp Saturday. Then again, FSU could make their season after having fired coach Willie Taggart by beating their rival straight up.

Still, while it is the largest line in the series in the last six years, it’s not what the 2013 version of the Seminoles, who were unbeaten and ranked #2 in the country, were favored by in late November at Ben Hill Griffin Statdium.

That year, Jameis Winston was on his way to the Heisman Trophy in a couple of weeks and eventually a BCS National Championship game win over Auburn. Meanwhile, Will Muschamp’s Florida team was enduring their worst season in over 35 years, as they had lost in November to Vanderbilt and Georgia Southern at home to drop to 4-7.

So, Vegas installed Jimbo Fisher’s Noles as 28 point favorites, which as far back as we’ve been able to research, is the largest line in this series at least in the last 30 years.

And not surprisingly, that day in 2013, FSU dominated for three quarters, put the game on cruise control, and  covered the 28 point spread with a 37 – 7 blow-out win.

The Noles won the ACC Championship Game the following week and completed the perfect season when Winston hit Kelvin Benjamin with the game-winning touchdown in the final seconds of the Rose Bowl / BCS Title game.

Muschamp was fired the next season, Florida hired Jim McElwain and he fared no better being beaten decisively in 2015 and 16, as FSU easily dominated both of those matchups as a small favorite.

Dan Mullen’s Gainesville debut saw his team travel to Tallahassee a year ago as 7 point road favorites and destroyed Willie Taggart’s first-year Noles, 41 – 14. We wrote them that it was an obvious sign of how much farther along the Gators were than Florida State.

And now as it turns out, Taggart was fired early in November before he could ever participate in the second game of the rivalry in his career.

It should be pointed out as well, that the oddsmakers have pegged this game correctly in each of the last 6 years with the favorite covering every time.

Still, FSU interim coach Odell Haggins knows all about the rivalry, having been at Florida State for 30 years as a player and now a coach. And, he would love nothing more than to pull the shocker.

And, while Florida State is the significant underdog traveling on the road Saturday, they’ve had an extra week and may just be able to hang in and give Florida (and that 17 point line) some problems.

Florida State Seminoles

FSU and LSU announced two game neutral site series Tuesday

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In an effort to continue to beef up their out-of-conference schedules, FSU announced on Tuesday that they will play newly-crowned National Champion, LSU in two neutral site games coming soon in 2022 and 2023.

The Seminoles made the announcement through social media and their website that they will be playing the “Bayou Bengals” first in New Orleans and then, in Orlando:

Both teams will be given the benefit of essentially a “home-away-from-home neutral-site game” on Labor Day weekend. LSU considers New Orleans to be their second home and just won the College Football Playoff National Championship game over Clemson there on January 12.

The first game with the Noles will be on Saturday night September 4th, 2022.

FSU will, then play “hosts” in Orlando against the Tigers the following year on Saturday night September 3rd. The Noles recently played a season-opening game with Ole Miss, whom they defeated, at Camping World Stadium in 2016.

New Seminoles head coach Mike Norvell had this to say in the school statement about adding the games coming soon,

“I’m excited about this series,” head coach Mike Norvell said. “Florida State has a rich tradition in Louisiana, the home of many former Seminoles including Warrick Dunn and Travis Minor, and all three of our national championship teams had at least one player from Louisiana. It continues to be an important area for us now. We added two players from Louisiana in our first signing class, and it will be great for them and other future Noles to be able to play back in their home state.

This series matches two of the iconic brands in college football, and I know our fans will have a great time in New Orleans and Orlando. I want to thank our administration for all their hard work on this and for continuing to pursue first-class experiences for our student-athletes.”

These will be the 10th and 11th times that Florida State and LSU will meet. The Noles hold a 7 – 2 advantage, including winning four straight games in the series. It is the first time the two schools will have played since 1991.

Further, Florida State is 9 – 2 in their last 11 games opening a season on a neutral field. The Seminoles were to have played Boise State in Jacksonville last Labor Day weekend, but the threat of Hurricane Dorian moved the game to Tallahasse.

That’s where the Broncos upset the Seminoles and sent coach Willie Taggart into a second year spiral that resulted in his firing in November.

The Noles are also 8 – 2 all-time in games  at the Superdome with the most prominent one coming in the BCS Championship Game win over Virginia Tech in the 2000 Sugar Bowl.

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Deion tells Dan Patrick he’d consider coaching Hurricanes

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Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Hall of Famer and former Seminoles All-American defensive back Deion Sanders is making the rounds for broadcast outlets at Super Bowl 54 in Miami,. And it’s not just his NFL Network duties that made some news on Tuesday. Rather, it’s an interview, where he expressed more desire for coaching college football and maybe, even in the city where he currently is working this week.

Sanders appeared on The Dan Patrick television – radio show Tuesday in advance of the 49ers and the Chiefs meeting for pro football’s title at Hard Rock stadium Sunday night.

And, while most of the interview centered around the NFL and the Super Bowl match-up, Patrick naturally turned to Deion’s desire to apparently be a head coach in college football and maybe, as soon as next year.

This subject came up after Sanders was apparently under consideration to possibly be the new head coach at FSU, when they fired Willie Taggart in early November. The school and AD David Coburn did confirm that they had a serious formal discussion with “Prime Time” about building a staff, etc.

That’s when Patrick turn the questioning to Sanders’ son and what might test his loyalty to FSU and possibly, coaching at a hated-rival like the University of Miami.

“What if ‘The U’ called?” Patrick asked.

“You know what is so funny, cuz I saw that when I was watching you on television (earlier in the day when Patrick said he would ask Sanders about Miami). My son is a phenomenal quarterback. My youngest son. He has a plethora of offers. We’re going to visit ‘The U’ on Saturday,” Sanders said.

“But would you coach the U?,” Patrick quickly asked again.

“You know what. You never know,” Sanders replied leaving the door open, like most do.

“Are you a ‘package deal’ with your son,” asked Patrick?

“I’ve never been a package deal with any-body,” Sanders shot back, which drew laughter from the studio audience at Patrick’s Super Bowl show site.

Now, the Hurricanes have obviously floundered for much of the 2010s, including 2019 with first-year coach Manny Diaz struggling mightily down the stretch of his first season. Miami lost it’s final two games to finish 6 – 6, and then, were shutout humiliatingly by Louisiana Tech 14 – 0 in the Independence Bowl.

Miami has swapped offensive coordinators after Diaz fired Dan Enos after just his first season. The Canes have hired former Auburn and SMU play-caller Rhett Lashlee to replace him. And, they secured Houston dual threat transfer QB D’Eriq King for this season.

Sanders was a two-time All-American at Florida State (1987, ’88), and won the Jim Thorpe Award during his final season playing for the Seminoles in 1988. He was selected in the first round of the 1989 draft by the Atlanta Falcons and played in the NFL through the 2005 season.

His elite level of play earned him inductions into both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Sanders has been analyst for the NFL Network for the past 10 years and clearly has the desire to try something else.

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