Florida’s defense had control of the game and was constantly getting pressure on Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. But that lasted only a quarter and a half. The second-ranked Seminoles dominated the Gators, 37-7. The 30-point defeat marks the worst loss against Florida State in Gainesville. The 37 points the Noles scored was the first time they were held under 41 points. For a while, it looked like FSU would shut out Florida, something that hadn’t happened since 1988 to Auburn, which also happened to be at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Noles’ wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin had a career day as he caught nine balls for 212 yards and three touchdowns. Florida’s cornerbacks had no answer for the 6’5″, 235 lb. redshirt sophomore.
Winston struggled early for Florida State, throwing an early interception to Loucheiz Purifoy. But he came back in a big way, going 19/31 for 327 yards, three touchdowns, and that one interception. Florida QB Skyler Mornhinweg actually had a better completion percentage than Winston, going 20/25 for only 115 yards and a TD. The Gators offense just couldn’t get anything going all day and was held to just 193 total yards. The Seminoles, on the other hand, overcame a slow start to finish with 456 yards. The turning point was midway through the second quarter when Winston hit Benjamin for a 45-yard TD and it was apparent that all the injuries Florida has suffered made an impact on the defense.
Florida’s season ends on a seven game losing streak, finishing 4-8 on the season. It’s the first time UF has had a losing record since 1979 when they went 0-10-1. Florida State finishes the regular season a perfect 12-0 with the ACC Championship and presumable BCS Championship games to go. The last time FSU finished the regular season perfect: 1999 when they won the national championship.
The end of the game brings a long offseason for the Gators. Coaching positions, most likely offensive coordinator Brent Pease and offensive line coach Tim Davis, will be vacated and Florida will have a long time to evaluate the talent on the team. Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley reiterated before the game that head coach Will Muschamp will return next season and he’s the right man for the job. Obviously, this season has been marred with injuries, including senior Trey Burton leaving the Florida State game after a 50-yard run. Foley seems to think injuries are a big reason Florida struggled this season and that’s part of the reason Muschamp’s getting another chance. But he also said Muschamp, “Has a plan. When I’m around him, I feel even better. I think he will fix it.” Florida will have a long 10 months to get things figured out and get the Gators back on the right track. I’m sure there will be plenty of news on the state of the Gators in the coming days. For now, it’s on to basketball.
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