The no. 11 Florida Gators will try to assert their dominance over the rest of the Sunshine State when they finish the regular season at home against the Florida State Seminoles. Game time is set for 7:30 EST on Saturday, November 30 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida. Fans can catch all of the action on the SEC Network.
The Gators are currently listed as 18-point favorites at home. There is also an over/under for the game set at 53.5 points. Click here to get a full list of this week’s college football betting odds.
The Gators head into their regular-season finale in search of their 10th win of the season. Florida reached that mark a year ago in Dan Mullen’s first season back in Gainesville as the head coach, and so back-to-back 10-win seasons would surely set a great foundation for better things to come moving forward. Florida could also be in line for a New Year’s Six bowl game if they finish the season 10-2 with their only losses coming to a pair of top-5 teams. On top of that, after beating Miami in their season opener, the Gators could claim the unofficial Sunshine State title if they knock off Florida State.
As for the Seminoles, a win this week over Florida could help them to salvage their season. For what it’s worth, FSU is in better shape than they were heading into their season finale with the Gators last year, as they’re already bowl eligible at 6-5. On the other hand, head coach Willie Taggart has already been fired, making FSU a program in a state of flux. But a win over Florida would give the Seminoles three straight wins to finish off the regular season while also guaranteeing a winning season. Florida State has fallen a long way over the past few seasons and needs either a win over Florida or a bowl win to ensure they don’t finish with a losing season in back-to-back seasons.
On the bright side, the Seminoles have dominated this rivalry for most of the decade, beating the Gators in seven of their last nine head-to-head meetings. However, the Gators turned the tables on FSU last year, winning 41-14 in Tallahassee to snap a five-game losing streak against the Seminoles. Florida will now be in search of their first home win in this rivalry since 2009.
It’s not easy to swallow this many points in what is usually such a fierce rivalry game. But there’s clearly a gap between these two teams, and I don’t think Florida State has done enough to close the 27-point gap between them in last year’s game. If anything, the Gators are a little better. With an interim head coach, the Seminoles are a mess right now, and I think the Gators will be more than happy to kick the Seminoles when they’re down and put together a convincing win that covers the 18-point spread.
The good news for FSU is that things have turned around a little bit late in the year. The ‘Noles have won back-to-back games over Boston College and Alcorn State since Taggart was fired. Also, after some back and forth this season, James Blackman has settled back in as the starting quarterback. However, the Florida State offensive line has struggled most of the year, conceding 36 sacks. That could be a big problem against a fierce Florida pass rush.
The good news is that FSU has running back Cam Akers to carry the load. Akers has put together the second 1,000-yard season of his career and probably deserves more notoriety nationally than he’s getting. On the other hand, Akers has been contained in recent games against Boston College and Miami. The Florida defense has also specialized in stopping the run for most of the season. If the Gators are able to get a beat on Akers and unleash their pass rush on Blackman, the FSU offense is going to have a difficult time finding the end zone.
On the other side of the ball, I’m a big fan of Florida quarterback Kyle Trask. It’s almost hard to believe that he wasn’t the starter to begin the year. In less than a full season of work, Trash has thrown 21 touchdown passes while limiting himself to just six interceptions. For a quarterback with not much experience at the start of the year, Trask has impressed and handled himself well in big games against elite teams. I think he’ll be poised for another strong performance against FSU.
To be fair, the Gators have a somewhat modest rushing attack. Without a ton of balance, Florida could have a hard time pulling away and covering the spread. But the FSU defense has some holes in it, giving up at least 31 points on five occasions this season. I think the Gators have enough talent around Trask to take advantage of FSU’s defensive weaknesses. That should enable the Gators to match or exceed the 30-point mark.
Ultimately, I think this year’s Florida-Florida State game will mimic last year’s meeting. I think the Seminoles will struggle to break 20 points while the Gators will push toward the 40-point mark. It’ll be close, but there’s enough of a talent gap between these teams to make me comfortable leaning toward the Gators to cover 18 points.