The line for Saturday’s game is 27 points. The way the Florida Gators have performed offensively this season, 27 points might as well be 27,000. The last time the Gators hung 27 or more on anyone was game three against Tennessee. The Gators did score 24 the next week against Kentucky, but you could hold a draft of the players from both Tennessee and Kentucky and you couldn’t come up with more than two or three players who could crack Florida State’s two-deep on either side of the ball.
Twenty-seven points seems like almost like a Star Wars number for the offensively challenged Gators. Florida State averages 30.3 points – in the first half and 55.2 for entire games. The Seminoles have scored 607 points in 11 games and with Florida and whoever is unlucky enough to win the Coastal Division of the ACC still on the schedule, 700 points seems rather attainable.
To put what Florida State has done offensively in perspective, the Gators have scored 553 points in the last two seasons combined.
Florida State’s worst two offensive games were against Pitt in the season opener and Miami in game eight. The Seminoles were “held” to a shamefully low 41 points in those two victories.
On the other side of the ball, the Seminoles are giving up only 11.4 points per game and 278.1 yards per game.
The numbers tell us that the Gators better come prepared to score a boatload of points to make this game competitive. To win they’re going to have to outscore a team that has put the ball in the end zone 37 times on the ground and another 34 times through the air while going against a defense that has given up only four rushing and 11 passing touchdowns all season.
If you wish to complicate matters just a teensy bit, then consider just how badly Florida’s roster has been depleted by injuries and take a look at FSU’s relatively healthy two-deep.
On paper, the Gators seem to have about as much chance as General George Armstrong Custer and his blue-coated horse soldiers had against the combined forces of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes Little Bighorn back in 1876. In fact, Custer might have had better odds.
Everyone from our garnet and gold clad brethren to the television talking heads have this one penciled in as a dial-a-score game. Everybody knows the Gators can’t win a shootout game. That almost goes without saying. After watching D1AA Georgia Southern score 26 points and run for 429 on UF last week, nobody seems to think the Gators can hold FSU to fewer than six or seven touchdowns. Some are even predicting the Seminoles go off for 60.
Now, no one in his right mind would favor the Gators to win this game. The only question in anyone’s mind seems to be the final margin of victory and that has caused speculation that FSU coach Jimbo Fisher might go zombie on the Gators in the second half to keep the score down and perhaps keep some of the heat off Will Muschamp, his best bud and co-owner of a Florida Gulf Coast beach house that they continue to share.
That actually seems doubtful. Muschamp knows fully well that Fisher might need every style point he can muster to stave off Ohio State for a spot in the BCS national championship game. FSU has the Gators and some poor sap from the Coastal Division of the ACC remaining before the BCS championship game pairings are announced. Ohio State has a Michigan team that already has seven wins and a Michigan State team in the Big Ten championship game that will rank in the national top ten. That translates to this: if given a chance to run up the score – even if it’s on an old buddy – Fisher will have no choice but to take it.
But what happens if the Gators punch back? Florida State has played like a neighborhood bully all season long so the Seminoles aren’t accustomed to a team that isn’t afraid to taste its own blood and punch back when struck. Can the Gators do that? Can they fight back? And if they do, will that only make the Seminoles mad or will it catch them by such surprise that we could have a white knuckles finish? What happens if the Gators tire of all this talk that Muschamp and/or about half his coaching staff could get axed Sunday morning and decide to put together a truly inspired effort in every phase of the game Saturday?
On paper, Florida’s only chance to keep it close is to take a 2-0 forfeit loss. On paper, the Gators have no chance to win and only a remote chance to keep the score respectable. But games aren’t played on paper. They’re played on the field and sometimes won by teams that don’t fall for the hype.
Vince Lombardi once said, “Make sure your worst enemy doesn’t live between your two ears.”
If the Gators refuse to believe the hype, they still could get their doors blown off because FSU is really, really good. But there is always that chance that Florida could shock the world.
It’s not much of a chance, but it is a chance. Stranger things have happened.
THE FEARLESS FORECAST
I don’t like The School Out West, but I do believe they will beat the Gators. In the other games involving SEC teams, I like The Mississippi Cow College over the University of the Deep, Deep South (I actually had that one ahead of time), LSU to roast the piglets from Bill and Hilary Clinton State U, the Carolina Chicken Ranch to make it five straight over Climpson (there is a P in it; just listen to one of them say it), Tusks Are Loosa over Aubrin, Gloria Vanderbilt over Wake Forest Gump, Dollywood USA over My Old Kentucky Home and the Texas Cow College over Misery.
Last Week: 5-3
MUSIC FOR TODAY
The Moody Blues were pretty much spinning their tires on the British musical scene as a bunch of white guys trying to sing R&B when someone got the wild idea of fusing classical music with rock and roll. It was a pretty novel concept and considered rather inventive at the time. he result was the album “Days of Future Passed” in 1967, an album which launched a terrific career that produced 15 albums. In 1988, the Moody Blues came out with the “Sur La Mer” album that featured “I Know You’re Out There Somewhere” as its lead track.