Second-ranked Florida State came into Saturday’s game favored by 27 points. Obviously the folks in Las Vegas know what they’re doing. The Seminoles racked up a 37-7 win over the Florida Gators to finish their regular season with a 12-0 record. The Seminoles advance to next week’s Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game in Charlotte where they will face Duke, a 27-25 winner over North Carolina.
For Florida, the loss ended a disappointing 4-8 season, the Gators first losing record since the 0-10-1 debacle in 1979. Also, the Gators will be shut out of a bowl game for the first time since 1991. Florida’s streak of non-losing and consecutive bowl years was the longest in the Southeastern Conference.
Florida State got 327 yards and three touchdown passes from freshman quarterback Jameis Winston, who connected nine times for 212 yards and all three scores to Kelvin Benjamin.
Florida’s only bright offensive lights were a 50-yard run from Trey Burton out of the wildcat formation in the first quarter and a long scoring drive in the fourth quarter that ended with a Skyler Mornhinweg to Hunter Joyer touchdown pass. Burton, who was expected to be a big part of the Florida offensive package, injured his shoulder on the big play and didn’t return to the game.
FLORIDA STATE 3, FLORIDA 0: The Seminoles offense sputtered early on in the game thanks to a Florida defense that flew around and got pressure on Jameis Winston. Roberto Aguayo drew first blood with a 49-yard field goal to cap a six-play, 35-yard drive with 3:43 left in the first quarter. The drive lasted 4:00 and if Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves hadn’t been flagged for holding it could have been a three-and-out.
FLORIDA STATE 10, FLORIDA 0: The Seminoles were pinned inside the five by a booming Johnny Townsend punt but the Seminoles then proceeded to march 96 yards on 12 plays on a touchdown drive that lasted 5:51. The key play on the drive was a Winston to Kenny Shaw pass on third and 26 for a first down that kept the drive going. Kelvin Benjamin caught a pass from Winston and then muscled his way to the end zone to put an exclamation point on the drive with a 45-yard touchdown catch with 4:24 remaining in the second quarter.
FLORIDA STATE 17, FLORIDA 0: The Seminoles put a quick seven points on a six-play, 74-yard drive that lasted only 1:42 with 20 seconds remaining in the half. The touchdown came on a Winston to Benjamin connection for 29 yards, a play in which Benjamin got away with grabbing Marcus Roberson by the jersey and throwing him down to get separation.
First half superlatives:
Skyler Mornhinweg 9-12 passing, 47 yards
Trey Burton 2-47 rushing
Quinton Dunbar 2-17 receiving
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
The Good: Florida’s intensity on defense. The Gators defense came out with an intensity that I haven’t seen in, well, all season. This was the most inspired and fired up the Florida defense has played all season. They held FSU to a season low 17 points in the first half (tied with 17 against Nevada). The secondary was flying around the field and save for one bad play where they gave up a 45-yard touchdown to Kelvin Benjamin
The Bad: Trying a 49-yard field goal rather than playing a field position game. You’ve been ultra-conservative all season long. You were conservative against a FCS team but trot out a kicker (Austin Hardin) who you have obviously shown time and time again that you have no confidence in out for a 49-yard field goal against the No. 2 team in the country?
Hardin missed it, moving to 4-12 on the season and Florida State started with great field position.
The Ugly: Tackling on Kelvin Benjamin’s 45-yard touchdown. There wasn’t any tackling to speak of. Benjamin ran into, around, over and through about seven different Gators on his way to the endzone. Benjamin was wrapped up around the 25-yard line but Gator defenders tried stripping the ball rather than tackling him.
The result? Seven points for Florida State.
FLORIDA STATE 20, FLORIDA 0: The Seminoles got a short field to work with after Skyler Mornhinweg was sacked by Mario Edwards and fumbled the ball. FSU took over on the UF 39 but managed only 16 yards, settling for a 40-yard Roberto Aguayo field goal with 11:02 remaining in the third quarter to cap a drive that lasted 2:36.
FLORIDA STATE 27, FLORIDA 0: Florida State really started piling on with another long bomb from Winston to Benjamin that covered 56 yards to set up an 11-yard touchdown run by Devonta Freeman with 7:08 left in the third quarter. If Benjamin had been hit in stride it could have been a touchdown. Instead he had to dive for the ball. The touchdown put an end to a five-play, 84-yard drive that lasted 1:43.
FLORIDA 7, FLORIDA STATE 27: The Gators would not be shut out on this day as they marched 84 yards on 14 plays, taking 8:49 off the clock. It was the second longest drive of the day for either team. It ended with a Mornhinweg touchdown pass to Hunter Joyer that covered five yards with 13:39 left. On the drive, Mornhinweg completed his 15th pass, a career high in a single game.
FLORIDA STATE 34, FLORIDA 7: The Seminoles responded with a 10-play, 79-yard drive that lasted 5:33. It ended when Winston hit Benjamin yet again, this time for a five-yard touchdown pass. On the drive, Benjamin eclipsed the 200-yard mark receiving, the first time a Seminoles receiver has done that since 2003. The score came with 8:06 left in the game.
FLORIDA STATE 37, FLORIDA 7: After a turnover on downs, the Seminoles began their drive almost in the red zone, and needed six plays to travel 21 yards in 3:38. Aguayo’s 28-yard field goal was the exclamation point on the game coming with 3:14 left in the contest.
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY
The Good: Tim Tebow was here! Tim Tebow was here! He was on the sidelines during the game and spoke to the team prior to kickoff. Skyler Mornhinweg also threw a touchdown but there wasn’t anything that stood out.
The Bad: Third down conversions. Florida finished the game 1-of-11 on third down. There’s no way to slice that or spin it to make it easier to look at.
The Ugly: Worst loss to FSU at home. Florida’s 30-point loss today was the worst home loss to Florida State in the history of the rivalry. Chalk up another “worst” stat for the 2013 Florida Gators.
Skyler Mornhinweg 20-25, 115 yards and one touchdown
Trey Burton 2-47 rushing
Kelvin Taylor 6-25 rushing
Ahmad Fulwood 4-23 receiving
Mack Brown 2-25 receiving