The Florida State Seminoles need to beat the Florida Gators Saturday to go to a bowl game. The Noles have the nation’s longest active streak of going to a bowl game at 36-consecutive seasons. The Florida Gators have been on the other side of the coin the last few years.
In 2013 Florida went 4-8. It was the first time Florida missed a bowl game since 1990 and the first losing season the Gators had suffered since 1979.
Florida State is currently 5-6. The Noles haven’t had a losing season since 1976 but the Gators could end that streak with a win on Saturday.
“I’d love to do it,” Mullen said when asked about being able to beat Florida State and end that FSU streak. But that’s what rivalry games are all about, right?”
Officially the NCAA doesn’t recognize FSU’s streak. The Noles were forced to vacate wins in 2006 and 2007 because of an academic scandal, so the NCAA touts Nebraska’s 35-consecutive bowl appearances (1969-2003) but the games happened and the NCAA can’t erase that. Florida State’s streak is real and it’s alive, albeit on life support.
“Oh, it’s very important,” Taggart told local media in Tallahassee on Monday. “We’re a prideful university. We pride ourselves on winning, and you think about the streak, that’s winning. We have been winning every year. So it’s very important that we go out and give our fans, our alumni, our former players and coaches that have been here and our current players and coaches everything we can to see that we get this victory and keep it going.”
The Noles have beat Florida a school record five times in a row. That’s an entire senior class of Florida Gators football players that will never know the feeling of beating FSU on the field. Redshirt senior C’yontai Lewis really put it into perspective Saturday after beating Idaho.
“That’s all I’ve been waiting on. Florida State. That’s the biggest game of the year. I just gotta get a win against them,” Lewis said. “They beat me on my official visit and they beat me every year I’ve been here. I just gotta get that win, get the streak going. After we beat them this year it’s never gonna end.”
Florida State has effectively ended the Gators’ season twice in the last six seasons — in the aforementioned 2013 season as well as last year. FSU didn’t keep Florida out of a bowl game due to the loss (Florida has just four wins each year heading into the game) but the sting of losing that last game of the season is still there and it sits with you all off season. Five years in a row the Gator have watched FSU players parade on the field with a gator head held high, celebrating beating their rivals.
“It’s not fun,” Franks said of losing the last game of the regular season. “You know, it’s not the way you want to end the season, even with the season we were having last year. It’s definitely not the way you want to end the season.”
This year the roles are reversed. Dan Mullen has done an incredible job of taking a team that won four games a season ago and putting them in good position to go to a New Year’s Six bowl game. That isn’t lost among the players. They want to beat FSU. Every single person that has ever worn orange and blue wants to beat the Seminoles but that’s not Florida’s sole focus this week.
“I don’t think it’ll mean too much for us. I think it’s more about ourselves and the things that we want for our future as far as the different bowl games we could go to if we come out with a win and things of that nature,” Josh Hammond said Monday. “So I don’t really think we’re too much worried about spoiling for them, we’re just worried about the success that we’re having if we go out and execute like we’re supposed to on Saturday.”