Sunshine State Rivals Collide in Gainesville: Florida St Seminoles at Florida Gators

Florida St Seminoles at Florida Gators
Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, Florida
Saturday, November 26, 2011, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2
Opening Line: Florida St -2
Current Line: Florida St -3
Opening Total: 44 1/2
Current Total: 45 1/2
Opening Money Line: FSU -125 / Florida +105
Current Money Line: FSU -145 / Florida +125

Florida Gators
The Florida Gators are 2 point underdogs as they host arch-rival Florida St. The two teams have underachieved this year with 9 combined losses.

It wasn’t that long ago that Florida St and Florida would have been the biggest college football game on Thanksgiving weekend, hands down. It was bigger than Alabama-Auburn, Ohio St-Michigan, or USC-UCLA. However, with both teams having a combined 9 losses, it is almost an afterthought, at least on the national stage. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a huge game, especially in the recruiting hotbed of the Sunshine State. Florida St is 7-4 this season under Jimbo Fisher. Florida is 6-5 under first year coach Will Muschamp. All five losses are to teams currently ranked in the top 25, Alabama, LSU, Auburn, Georgia, and South Carolina. Florida leads the series 33-20-2 including 20-8-1 in Gainesville. The Seminoles won last year in Tallahassee 31-7, to snap a 6 game losing streak to the Gators. FSU hasn’t won in  Gainesville since  2003.

Last week, Florida St was a 17 point favorite at home against Virginia on the college football betting line. However, the Seminoles didn’t even score 17 points in the game. The Seminoles took a 13-7 lead going into the fourth quarter, and held it until Virginia scored with 1:16 left to take a 14-13 lead. Florida St got the ball back and took it to midfield. It came down to fourth and one. Virginia stuffed the play, but a 15 yard face mask penalty gave the Seminoles a first down and the ball at Virginia’s 35 yard line. Florida St used their last timeout with 20 seconds left. Seminole quarterback E.J. Manuel threw it to receiver Bert Reed near the sideline. Reed caught the pass but was unable to get out of bounds. As the clock ran out, Virginia celebrated the apparent upset and began to go to the locker room. However, a lengthy replay that took over 5 minutes for the replay officials to look showed that Reed never had possession of the ball and the pass was incomplete. Eight seconds were added to the clock, and Virginia was called for offsides on the game winning field goal attempt moving it 5 yards closer. However, normally reliable kicker Dustin Hopkins missed the 43 yard kick, sealing the upset for the Cavaliers. Florida St had 11 penalties and a turnover in the loss. The Seminoles had 386 total yards including 186 rushing yards. Manuel threw for 200 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for 20 yards on 10 carries. Running back Jermaine Thomas had 14 carries for 69 yards. Wide receiver Rashad Greene rushed for 53 yards on his only attempt of the day, and caught 4 passes for 21 yards. Reed had 4 catches for 104 yards. Virginia had 316 total yards including 238 passing yards.

Florida St is averaging 401.3 total yards a game and 32.6 points a game. The Seminoles are averaging 275.2 passing yards and 126.1 rushing yards a game. The Seminoles have 16 turnovers and have allowed 31 sacks. Florida St is 55/128 on third and fourth down conversions. Florida St is 39/46 scoring in the red zone with 26 touchdowns. Florida St is giving up 283.9 total yards a game and only 15.9 points. FSU is allowing 85.5 rushing yards and 198.5 passing yards. They are ranked in the top 7 in all categories except passing defense which is #31.  The Seminoles have forced 16 turnovers and 34 sacks. FSU opponents are 66/179 on third and fourth down conversions, and 25/30 scoring in the red zone with 17 touchdowns. The Seminoles are averaging just over 8 penalties for 68 yards a game. FSU has 2 defensive/special teams touchdowns this season.

Manuel is 177/267 passing (66.3% completions) with 2,352 yards, 16 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, along with 88 carries for 186 yards and 4 rushing touchdowns. He missed the second half of the Oklahoma game and the Clemson game with a shoulder injury, and was replaced by Clint Trickett.  Trickett is 44/72 passing with 675 yards, 7 touchdown passes and 4 interceptions. Running back Devonta Thompson has 92 carries, 487 yards, and 6 touchdowns, along with 13 catches for 99 yards. Thomas has 49 carries, 273 yards, and a touchdown, along with 8 catches for 112 yards. James Wilder, Jr. has 31 carries, 150 yards, and a touchdown. Chris Thompson is out for the season with a back injury. Three other Seminole running backs have a rushing touchdown.  Receiver Rodney Smith has 30 catches for 511 yards with 4 touchdowns. Greene has 33 catches for 497 yards with 6 touchdowns. Kenny Shaw has 30 catches 354 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Reed has 27 catches for 373 yards and 4 touchdowns.  Receivers  Josh Gehres and Willie Haulstead are listed as questionable or out against Virginia.  Kicker Dustin Hopkins is 41/41 on extra points and 20/24 on field goals with a long of 53 yards. Besides the injuries to the receivers and running backs Florida St has seven other players on the injured list including 4 defensive players.

Last week Florida hosted FCS school Furman. The Gators were 31 point favorites. Furman was up 22-7 at the end of the first quarter, but Florida took a 27-22 lead at halftime. Both teams scored 10 points in the third quarter. Florida didn’t put the game away until the Gators returned 2 fourth quarter interceptions for touchdowns. Those were the only 2 turnovers of the game. Florida won 54-32 to become bowl eligible. The Gators had 453 yards including 329 passing yards from quarterback John Brantley who threw 4 touchdown passes. Running back Chris Rainey had 15 carries for 90 yards.  Receiver Andre Debose had 3 catches for 151 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Jordan Reed and Quinton Dunbar each caught touchdown passes. Furman had 446 total yards including 233 rushing yards. Furman scored a safety in the first quarter.

Florida is averaging 347.7 yards and 27.3 points a game. The Gators average 195.6 passing yards and 152.1 rushing yards. Florida has 19 turnovers and has allowed 21 sacks. The Gators are 48/141 on third and fourth down conversions, and 29/33 scoring in the red zone with 16 touchdowns. Florida is allowing 318.2 yards and 20.5 points a game. The Gators are giving up only 176 .5 passing yards a game. All three are in the top 25 nationally. The Gator’s rush defense allows 141.6 yards a game. Florida has forced 11 turnovers and 18 sacks. Gator opponents are 56/174 on third and fourth down conversions, and 29/35 scoring in the red zone with 20 touchdowns. Florida is averaging over 8 penalties a game for 61 yards a game. Florida has 5 defensive/special teams touchdowns.

Brantley is 123/209 passing for 1,808 yards with 10 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett also have taken some snaps this season. Rainey  has 140 carries, 748 yards, and 2 touchdowns, along with 24 catches, 345 yards, and 2 touchdowns. He also has a punt return for a touchdown. Rainey has over 1,200 all purpose yards. He is probable with an ankle injury. Jeff Demps has 87 carries, 547 yards, and 6 touchdowns along with 15 catches for 165 yards. Demps has over 900 all purpose yards and has a kickoff return for a touchdown. Mike Gillislee has 48 carries, 312 yards, and 2 touchdowns. Trey Burton has 31 catches, 113 yards, and 3 touchdowns, along 18 catches, 144 yards, and a touchdown. Debose has 14 catches for 423 yards and 4 touchdowns. Deonte Thompson, Reed and Frankie Hammond also get significant catches. Reed is also questionable with an ankle injury. Kicker Caleb Sturgis is 27/27 on extra points and 21/25 on field goals with a long of 55 yards. Brad Phillips is 2/2 on extra points and 2/3 on field goals with a long of 43 yards. Florida has 8 players listed on the injury report including 4 defenders and 2 offensive linemen.

Florida is 3-7-1 against the spread and the total is 6-5 this season. Florida St is 5-6 ATS and the total is 4-7 this season. The Gators are 5-2 ATS in the last 7 against FSU. The under is 6-1 in the last 7. The home team is 5-1 ATS and the favorite is 4-0. Florida St is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 non-conference games, 8-2-1 after scoring 20 points or less, 9-3 as a favorite of 3 points or less, 2-5 against teams with winning records, and 1-4 after failing to cover. Florida is 20-6 in their last 6 non-conference games, 2-5 as  a home underdog, and as a home underdog of 3 points or less, 1-4-1 following a straight up win of 20 points or more, 1-5 after scoring 40 points or more, 0-6 after failing to cover, 0-3-1 at home, 0-5 against teams with winning records, 0-4 in November, 0-6 in November, 0-7 overall, and on grass.

Both of these teams were ranked in the top 25 in the pre-season poll and Florida St was ranked in the top 5. Both will go to bowl games but the Gator Bowl and Champs Sports Bowl are not the high profile games that they wanted to play in. Both teams have dominant defenses and so-so offenses, so I don’t see a lot of points scored in this match-up. Florida struggles to stop the run, but Florida St doesn’t run the ball well. I like Florida St to win a close game on a late field goal.

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