Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Colleges

Florida State knows Gators still have some bite

GAINESVILLE

One is playing to remain on track to win it all. The other has lost nearly everything. One is led by a Heisman Trophy candidate; the other by its third-team quarterback.

One, Florida State, is undefeated and one week away from playing for a conference championship and a potential national title. The other, Florida, has just four wins and is simply playing for pride — no championship, not even a bowl game.

In a tale of two programs going in opposite directions, No. 2 Florida State plays at unranked Florida this afternoon and the Gators are hoping for a monumental upset that would derail the Seminoles' national title hopes.

For Florida, this is the season.

"It definitely can swing confidence for the future, spring ball and going into next year," senior safety Jaylen Watkins said. "It would

change the feeling around here by getting a 'W.' "

"It's our bowl game," senior right guard Jon Halapio said. "We have a chance to go out there and resolve our whole season playing against the No. 2 team in the nation. And they're a very good team. With everything (bad) we've had this year, I feel like a win against this group of guys would uplift our spirits as a football program."

And perhaps ease the growing pressure on Gators coach Will Muschamp and his embattled staff.

The Seminoles are a 27½-point favorite, but the Gators know firsthand that upsets do happen. Most recently in 2004, fired coach Ron Zook's unranked Gators defeated No. 10 FSU 20-13.

Which is why the Seminoles recognize that desperation — mixed with a fierce rivalry — could potentially make the Gators dangerous.

"Whatever the Gators had done in the past few games, it doesn't matter," FSU quarterback Jameis Winston said. "When you put Florida State and Florida together … it's more of a pride game.

"We have everything to lose, but they don't have anything to lose."

Florida is on a six-game losing streak and will miss out on a bowl in a season when the Gators aren't facing NCAA sanctions for the first time since 1979. Yet the Gators insist they believe they have a chance to win the game.

"It starts with belief," Florida senior offensive lineman Kyle Koehne said. "You have no chance unless you believe. I think if we all come together as a unit, that we can win this game."

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher has the Seminoles back in national title contention but expects this game to be more of a battle than it appears on paper.

"Florida, to me, this is one of the great rivalries in college football," Fisher said. "One of the reasons (why) you come to Florida State. Very big game, always a very difficult place to play there in Gainesville. One of the most difficult in the country. They'll be ready to play. I know they will bring their 'A' game and we'll have to bring ours. … It's a rivalry game, it's a game you love to play in on both sides and it will be a great contest."

FSU is the only undefeated team in the nation to win every game by at least 14 points and ranks in the nation's top five in both scoring offense and defense.

But Florida holds firm that the game is never played on paper, and in a fierce rivalry such as this, the old cliche of throwing out the stats and record book might actually prove correct.

"We're not really paying attention to the odds," said senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs, who originally signed with FSU out of high school before ultimately attending junior college. "We just want to go out there and win. I haven't even watched ESPN in a while, there is so much negativity. We just want to go out there just with equal minds on equal ground, and we feel like we can play with them."

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]

 
Comments
ESPN: Antonio Callaway tested positive for marijuana at NFL combine

ESPN: Antonio Callaway tested positive for marijuana at NFL combine

Former Florida Gators receiver Antonio Callaway's off-field struggles continue.ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Tuesday evening that Callaway tested positive for marijuana at the NFL's scouting combine.Former Florida WR Antonio Callaway -- who some cons...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Report: Florida Gators’ Cece Jefferson out four months after shoulder surgery

Report: Florida Gators’ Cece Jefferson out four months after shoulder surgery

Florida Gators defensive lineman Cece Jefferson will be out four months after having surgery on his right shoulder earlier this week, according to a report Wednesday evening from the Gainesville Sun.Jefferson, a 6-foot-1, 242-pound senior, injured th...
Published: 04/18/18
Florida has signed 15 quarterbacks since Tim Tebow. 10 have transferred

Florida has signed 15 quarterbacks since Tim Tebow. 10 have transferred

Tuesday evening's news that quarterback Jake Allen plans to transfer from the Florida Gators isn't a surprise.Allen, a former three-star recruit in 2017, was fourth on the depth chart. The St. Thomas Aquinas product didn't seem to fit new coach ...
Published: 04/18/18
Auden Tate will be the third FSU receiver drafted in 11 years. Why so few?

Auden Tate will be the third FSU receiver drafted in 11 years. Why so few?

When former Wharton High star Auden Tate hears his name called sometime next week, he'll join a surprisingly small group.Recent Florida State receivers drafted into the NFL.Over the past decade, only two Seminoles receivers have been drafted: Rashad ...
Published: 04/18/18
Police suspected FSU’s Deondre Francois intended to sell marijuana

Police suspected FSU’s Deondre Francois intended to sell marijuana

Tallahassee police suspected Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois possessed marijuana with the intent to sell it when they executed a search warrant on his home last week, according to an affidavit.The case — which culminated Thursda...
Published: 04/17/18
Florida State takes over No. 1 spot in 2019 recruiting rankings

Florida State takes over No. 1 spot in 2019 recruiting rankings

Even as Florida State was finishing its first recruiting class under Willie Taggart, the Seminoles were already talking about what they could do in the new staff's first full cycle, for 2019."I can only imagine having a year here to be able to recrui...
Published: 04/17/18
Former five-star back Khalan Laborn rejuvenated after FSU coaching change

Former five-star back Khalan Laborn rejuvenated after FSU coaching change

TALLAHASSEE – Florida State running back Khalan Laborn's breakout 140-yard output in Saturday night's spring game was a sign of what could be for the former blue-chip recruit.It was also a reminder of what almost wasn't for the Seminoles.With a...
Published: 04/16/18
New Orlando football team will welcome Steve Spurrier on Tuesday night

New Orlando football team will welcome Steve Spurrier on Tuesday night

Steve Spurrier will make one of his first appearances in his new role with the Alliance of American Football tomorrow in Orlando.The league will welcome Spurrier as the coach of its Orlando team at an event at Ember (42 W Central Blvd.) at an event f...
Published: 04/16/18
Five takeaways from Florida State’s spring football game

Five takeaways from Florida State’s spring football game

TALLAHASSEE – Judging by the crowd for Florida State's spring game on Saturday, Seminoles fans are excited about the dawn of the Willie Taggart era.The official attendance of 53,974 — a new record for a spring game — inclu...
Published: 04/14/18
Five takeaways from the Florida Gators’ spring game

Five takeaways from the Florida Gators’ spring game

GAINESVILLE —It took some time, but the offense scored points in bunches, much to the delight of the 53,015 in attendance at Florida's spring game.And the Gators had fun doing it, pulling out all the stops with gadgets and celebrations that bro...
Published: 04/14/18