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Florida Gators enjoy blowout win over Florida International before facing Florida State Seminoles

Chris Rainey, pursued by FIU linebacker Aaron Davis, is praised by UF coach Urban Meyer: “I thought he was tremendous.’’

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Chris Rainey, pursued by FIU linebacker Aaron Davis, is praised by UF coach Urban Meyer: “I thought he was tremendous.’’

GAINESVILLE — The afterglow of Saturday's blowout win against overmatched Florida International didn't last very long. The game may have been a nice break for No. 1 Florida, particularly its starters, but from here on out it's back to business.

Rival Florida State is coming to town Saturday, along with the ESPN GameDay crew and thousands of fans who want to be a part of Florida QB Tim Tebow's last home game.

But most of all, coach Urban Meyer said, the hype surrounding the game is primarily because it's Florida-Florida State. Plain and simple.

"It's the world," Meyer said of the rivalry. "It's what makes this job the best job in college football. It's what makes this stadium the best stadium in college football. (It's) senior day at Florida. It's going to be a special week."

Meyer will play up rivalry week with his team the way he has in years past, but he said the most important factor will be the practice and focus the team comes with this week.

"We have a plan and the plan is to practice really hard on Tuesday," he said. "That's our plan. There are no secret handshakes, just go as hard as we can on Tuesday, then come back and go again on Wednesday."

For the players, a keen awareness of what's at stake surrounds every conversation.

"That would pretty much make their season if they beat us," senior LB Ryan Stamper said. "We still have to accomplish a lot of goals, so I don't think it'll be a problem, us going hard, with all the things like senior day going on."

RAINEY'S EVOLUTION: With two of its biggest games upcoming, Meyer is hoping he can get more out of sophomore RB Chris Rainey similar to Saturday's performance against FIU. Rainey combined for 91 yards rushing and receiving and had two touchdowns.

"I thought he was tremendous," Meyer said. "I wouldn't mind if he did it against an upper-level SEC team. I tell him all the time, feel free to make a couple of guys miss once and awhile and go. And he will. He's getting stronger, he's getting better. That was a tremendous effort."

JUST PLAIN FUN: Whether the FIU game offered any value in preparing for Florida State and then Alabama in the SEC title game is debatable, but the Gators said it was a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon, helping relieve the pressure that has surrounded the season.

"I think it was good," Tebow said. "I think it was good for momentum, I think it's good to get some guys playing time. You really see a lot of what you're going to see next year, and then also for some guys you get them a little bit of rest. I think for the most part we stayed pretty healthy. You want to get guys a little bit of rest and get guys ready for a tough two weeks. So that's something also nice about a game like this."

Antonya English can be reached at english@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3389.

Florida Gators enjoy blowout win over Florida International before facing Florida State Seminoles 11/22/09 [Last modified: Sunday, November 22, 2009 9:22pm]
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