Florida (6-4) at (1) Florida State (11-0) (ET)
GAME NOTES: The top-ranked Florida State Seminoles take aim at their second straight undefeated regular season, as the close out the 2014 schedule against rival Florida on Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Jimbo Fisher's Seminoles have certainly not won games pretty this season, but they have continued to stay unblemished, running the nation's longest current win streak to 27 games with last week's 20-17 win over Boston College. The Seminoles have won the ACC Atlantic Division and will play Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship Game. FSU does not hold the top spot in the College Football Playoff rankings, but is in the top four, where it should stay barring a loss.
It has been a different story at Florida, as the Gators were never really relevant in the SEC this season. The team is 6-4 on the year and 4-4 in conference play, but it is considered a sub-par year by Florida standards. The team enters off a 52-3 rout of FCS foe Eastern Kentucky. This will be Will Muschamp's final game with the team, as he has stepped down as head coach at the conclusion of the regular season.
Muschamp's team didn't need any extra incentive for this one.
"They don't need fireworks to get ready for this one," he said. "They'll be ready to go. Our guys are excited about this game."
This is the 59th all-time meeting between these two rivals, with UF holding a 35-22-2 advantage. The Gators are the last team to defeat the Seminoles, a 37-26 decision in Tallahassee in 2012. Last season, Florida State beat Florida, 37-7.
Both quarterbacks Treon Harris and Jeff Driskel were productive in last week's lopsided win over Eastern Kentucky, but unfortunately that has not been the norm in Gainesville this season.
Florida is averaging a respectable 31.6 ppg this year, but it has been fueled by a solid rushing attack (197.1 ypg) and hampered by a stagnant passing game.
Junior Matt Jones (788 yards, 5.0 ypc, 6 TDs) and sophomore Kelvin Taylor (528 yards, 5.3 ypc, 6 TDs) are a potent one-two punch in the backfield.
However, both QBs have struggled, completing 54.4 percent of their passes. Driskel has nine touchdowns against 10 interceptions, while the freshman Harris has taken over as the starter and has a much better six TDs against one pick.
Regardless of the guy throwing the football, the usual target is sophomore wideout Demarcus Robinson, who paces the team by large margins in receptions (43), receiving yards (703) and TD catches (7).
The defensive numbers seem solid for Florida, which has done a nice job against the run (110.4 ypg) and the pass (201.1 ypg) this year. The team ranks 11th nationally in total defense (311.5 ypg).
Linebacker Antonio Morrison leads the Florida defense with 93 total tackles. He also has one sack, one INT, 1 FF and 1 FR to his credit. Defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. (53 tackles, 11.0 TFL, 4.5 sacks, 2 FF) has made his share of plays as well. Defensive end Alex McCalister (20 stops) hasn't been in on a ton of tackles this year, but he has made the most of them, with 8.0 TFL and a team-high 6.0 sacks.
Florida State is averaging 35.5 ppg this season, so scoring points hasn't been a problem. What has is the team's penchant for falling behind.
A lack of a dominant run game has certainly been a concern, with FSU averaging a modest 126.6 ypg on the ground. The passing attack is much more potent at 314.9 ypg.
That has a lot to do with reigning Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston under center. While not on his pace from last year, Winston's numbers haven't been awful. The sophomore has completed 66 percent of his passes, for 3,125 yards. However, his TD (19) to interception (13) ratio leaves a lot to be desired.
Still, Winston does have a supremely gifted talent on the outside to throw to in All-America candidate Rashad Greene. The school's all-time receptions leader, Greene has hauled in 83 balls this season, for 1,148 yards and five TDs.
Dalvin Cook (584 yards, 5.8 ypc, 7 TDs) and Karlos Williams (571 yards, 4.3 ypc, 10 TDs) aren't workhorse backs, but both are more than serviceable.
There have certainly been some chinks in the armor of the FSU defense this year. The team is allowing 22.3 points per game, and foes have had some success both on the ground and through the air against the Seminoles.
Still, there are playmakers at every level. The linebacking corps is anchored by Reggie Northrup (90 tackles) and Terrance Smith (80 tackles). The secondary features defensive backs Jalen Ramsey (68 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 3.0 sacks, 2 INTs) and P.J. Williams (47 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT). Eddie Goldman (31 tackles, 8.0 TFL, 4.0 sacks) and Mario Edwards Jr. (38 tackles, 11.0 TFL, 3.0 sacks) are the ones to watch up front.
Fisher commented on all the close calls his team has had this season.
"We're going into battle," he said. "These games are going to be dogfights. People are going to try and be the one that knocks us out, knocks us off. They've got nothing to lose."
The Seminoles keep flirting with disaster, but the bottom line is that they continue to win. This will be a spirited game, but the Gators have been way to inconsistent to get the victory here on the road, especially with so much on the line for the hometown team.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida State 34, Florida 20