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Florida football vs. Florida State: Time, TV schedule, game preview, score

Gators battle Seminoles

Fred Johnson #74 of the Florida Gators prepares to enter the stadium prior to the game against the Charleston Southern Buccaneers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 1, 2018 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Fred Johnson #74 of the Florida Gators prepares to enter the stadium prior to the game against the Charleston Southern Buccaneers at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 1, 2018 in Gainesville, Florida. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – It's Rivalry Week in the state of Florida as the Gators and Seminoles prepare to tangle Saturday in Tallahassee in the Sunshine Showdown. Florida State has dominated this fierce in-state rivalry since 2010 but 13th-ranked Florida has a legitimate reason to believe that this may be its year to take down the Seminoles.

TV: Noon ET, ABC. Line: Florida -6.5.

 

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"It's a rivalry game. It's the last game of the season. You don't want to lose the last game of the season," said Florida State junior quarterback Deondre Francois, who ranks in the top 10 in school history in 300-yard passing games (nine), passing yards (6,125), completions (466), and total offense (6,289). "I think the fans hate Florida more than they hate Miami. So we'd like to go out with a win any way we can get it." Florida State has won seven of the last eight meetings with the Gators, including a school-record five straight, but these Seminoles hardly look like the ones of old that have handily defeated Florida, outscoring them 209-77 in those victories. These Seminoles desperately need a victory just to reach a bowl game -- continuing an NCAA-record 36 straight bowl appearances -- and extend 41 years without a losing season, while the Gators are enjoying a renewal under first-year head coach Dan Mullen and are in the hunt for a New Year's Six bowl as they sit at No. 11 in the College Football Playoff rankings. The Gators wouldn't mind playing the role of spoiler, acknowledges Mullen, "That'd be great. I'd love to do it. But that's what rivalry games are all about, right?"

ABOUT FLORIDA (8-3)

Led by quarterback Feleipe Franks (20 TDs, six interceptions), the Gators' offense has been up and down for much of the year but the unit continues to improve under Mullen, showing increased confidence with 1,128 total yards the last two weeks in victories over South Carolina and Idaho. While the Seminoles boast a better defense than either of those schools, Florida has produced three 500-yard games for the year, the most the team has totaled since it had five in 2009. The Gators' pass defense, the nation's 13th best (174.8 yards allowed per game), can't afford to give up the big plays that the Seminoles have proven adept at making late in games.

ABOUT FLORIDA STATE (5-6)

The Seminoles halted their three-game skid and kept their fading bowl hopes alive last week thanks to rallying past Boston College 22-21 when Francois hit receiver Tammorrion Terry with a 74-yard touchdown pass -- his team-high eighth TD of the season -- with under two minutes to play. "Whenever you get a win after a three-game losing streak, it's a step forward again," first-year head coach Willie Taggart told reporters. "It's not just a win. We beat a ranked team who was playing well. For our guys to do that at home was huge." Francois had been struggling most of the game and it will be important for the Seminoles to not get far behind the Gators and become one-dimensional as they have struggled in pass protection, surrendering 31 sacks, second worst in the ACC, while Florida is tied for sixth in the SEC in sacks with 27.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Florida leads the rivalry with Florida State 34-26-2 but the teams are tied 13-13-1 at the Seminoles' home in Tallahassee.

2. Mullen was 4-0 against the Seminoles from 2005-08 when he was an assistant at Florida on Urban Meyer's staff.

3. This is only the second time (1960) in this rivalry that both schools come in with first-year head coaches.

PREDICTION: Florida 34, Florida State 30

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