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When Dan Mullen took over the Florida program two years ago, two of his biggest goals were to dominate the state and re-establish the Swamp as one of the most feared venues in the country.
Mission accomplished on both. In 2018, the Gators beat Florida State by 27 points in Tallahassee. They kicked off the 2019 campaign with a win over Miami that wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. They entered Saturday’s season finale against the Seminoles on a seven-game home winning streak.
The in-state and home dominance continued on Saturday night, as No. 11 Florida defeated Florida State (6-6, 4-4 ACC) 40-17. With the win, UF picked up its first back-to-back 10-win seasons and its first back-to-back wins over FSU since 2008-09. Florida finished the season 6-0 in the Swamp, which marked just the third time this decade that they went undefeated at home.
Here is our Instant Analysis.
It Was Over When: With the Gators leading 20-7, the Seminoles lined up to punt from their own 6-yard line. Florida’s Freddie Swain muffed the punt, and FSU recovered at the 49. However, they were penalized for having five players in the backfield, which forced a re-kick. Swain fair caught this one at Florida State’s 40. Five plays later, Kyle Trask connected with Van Jefferson for a 13-yard touchdown on a post route.
FSU had a chance to gain momentum and put together a scoring drive to get back into the game with the muffed punt. Instead, they squandered the opportunity, and the rout was on.
They Stole the Show: UF’s beloved group of four senior receivers went out with a bang in their Swamp swan song.
Swain caught five passes for 62 yards, including touchdowns of 19 and 23 yards. Jefferson made five receptions for 48 yards and two scores. Josh Hammond caught three passes for 39 yards. His 31-yard catch and run on the final possession of the first half led to a 50-yard field goal by Evan McPherson. Tyrie Cleveland caught four passes for 44 yards.
He didn’t touch the ball much, but Kadarius Toney amazed the crowd with 47-yard catch and run on a pop pass that saw him juke several defenders out of their shoes. His explosive play led to Swain’s second touchdown of the first half.
After a slow start by the Gators’ pass rush, Jonathan Greenard started to tee off late in the first half. He blasted FSU quarterback Jordan Travis for a sack from the backside that would have resulted in a touchdown if Ventrell Miller hadn’t dropped the ball while trying to scoop and score. He finished the game with three sacks.
Midway through the second quarter, tight end Kyle Pitts caught a pass from Emory Jones near the line of scrimmage and was surrounded by two defenders. He stiff-armed one defender to the ground and outran the other for 11 yards. Pitts finished the night with five catches for 44 yards.
Finally, Trask had a big night throwing the ball. He completed 30 of 41 passes for 343 yards and three scores.
The Stats Don’t Lie: It was a thorough beatdown. UF outgained FSU 467-250, including 390-181 through the air. The Gators averaged 6.4 yards-per-play, while the Seminoles averaged 4.5.
Florida State committed 13 penalties for 97 yards, and they all seemed to come at the most inopportune times. By contrast, Florida committed just three penalties for 25 yards.
The Gators converted eight of 16 third downs, while the Seminoles converted five of 14.
Oh What A Play: With Florida leading just 13-7, Toney went in motion early in the second quarter. Trask took the snap and flipped it to him with two hands. It looked like Toney would be stopped for a one- or two-yard gain, but he juked what seemed like the entire FSU defense. Rather than dancing around from sideline to sideline as he’s known for doing, he got vertical and gained 47 yards.
These Matchups Proved Key: Florida entered the game ranked 19th in the country in passing offense, while FSU was 114th in passing defense. That mismatch was glaringly obvious throughout the night. The Gators eclipsed 375 yards passing, and they could have gained a lot more if not for some overthrows by Trask on deep balls.
The Gators offensive line held up well against a Seminoles defensive line that was missing its best player due to injury in Marvin Wilson. They allowed no sacks and just three tackles-for-loss.
On the other side, UF’s defensive line feasted on an FSU offensive line that is arguably among the worst in the Power Five conferences. They sacked the Seminoles’ quarterbacks eight times and amassed 12 tackles-for-loss. Even with a 50-yard touchdown run by Cam Akers, FSU still averaged just 2.2 yards-per-rush. If not for some quick-hitters to get the ball out of the quarterbacks’ hands quickly, the damage could’ve been even worse.
Up Next: The Gators (10-2, 6-2 SEC) will learn their bowl game destination and opponent on Dec. 8. They’re in the mix for a New Year’s Six bowl but will probably have to get the results of several conference championship games next weekend to go in their favor.
In the interim, UF’s coaching staff turns its attention to the recruiting trail with the early signing period less than three weeks away.
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