1. That’s how you end the decade against Florida State
Some fans have taken to calling it the lost decade. The Florida State Seminoles had won seven of the first nine games in the 2010s and a lot of those weren’t even close. It had been a decade since the Gators beat FSU at home.
This was the easiest 23-point win I think I’ve ever covered. When Florida State won the opening coin toss I assumed they’d elect to receive. Maybe you could get Cam Aker going and get a long scoring drive and take the fans out of the game a little bit. Instead they deferred and the Gators promptly drove 75 yards on 11 plays for a touchdown. Florida scored touchdowns on its first three drives of the game and that would have been enough to win the game already.
Florida scored 35 points or more against the Noles in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2009.
This game wasn’t competitive and it shouldn’t have been. Florida State came in limping and offered up an opportunity to have a cathartic three hours in the Swamp.
2. The next decade will be different.
Dan Mullen is in a great spot. He’s the first coach at Florida to win 10 games in each of his first two seasons. He doesn’t seem like a guy that would bolt for the NFL and, at the risk of being a jinx, it feels like he’s a long-term guy in Gainesville. Two hours west the Seminoles don’t have a head coach and will have a battle to pay their last head coach who somehow coached in 20 games without an actual contract.
The only thing that will make these programs father apart is time. When the sun comes up on Sunday Florida’s football progam will be a little bit farther along than Florida State’s and the same will happen Monday and Tuesday and so on.
There was a huge effort on social media to get Freddie Swain to Gainesville. The hashtag would trend on a random day of the week and it eventually worked, Swain even knew about it at the time and has talked about it this year.
His career started off slow. He caught eight passes in each of his first two seasons but has been a key contributor since Dan Mullen took over. He hauled in 22 passes last season and has 35 as a senior. His seven touchdowns this year are more than he had in the previous three years (4). He’s been a leader on and off the field and he went out big on senior night with five catches for 62 yards and two touchdowns in the first half before a knee injury sidelined him in the second half.
4. Senior WRs show out
The senior receivers hauled in 17 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns. Swain and Jefferson hauled in two touchdowns a piece. Dan Mullen has harped on their leadership and selflessness all season. It was good to see them each have a nice swan song in the Swamp, but, man, the Gators are going to miss them next year.
5. Swamp defended
The Florida Gators finished a perfect 6-0 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. They are 11-2 in The Swamp under Dan Mullen. The Gators were just 20-10 at home from 2013-2017. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium used to have teeth. It used to strike fear in the hearts and souls who foolishly wandered onto the grounds. It lost that but Dan Mullen is getting it back.
Florida outscored opponents 237-33 in the Swamp. That’s exceptional.
6. Sack squad
The Gators’ eight sacks against Florida State gave them 46 on the season. That’s fifth best in the country. It’s also the most any Florida team has had since 1997 (50).
7. Bowl game
The Gators look to be heading to a New Year’s Six Bowl game. With Auburn beating Alabama and Wisconsin beating Minnesota the Gators should jump both of those losing teams in the polls. That would set Florida up nicely for a trip to the Orange Bowl, who had two representatives at the game today.
I spoke with one of the Orange Bowl reps before the game and he said, in his opinion, if Auburn beat Alabama that Florida would jump the Tide. Florida would need to be ahead of Alabama because the loser of the SEC Championship game will likely be out of the playoff and into the Sugar Bowl, meaning the third highest ranked SEC team could still be NY6 eligible.
There’s always some politicking to be done and Dan Mullen did some on Saturday.
“Hopefully we did enough to get a New Year’s Six Bowl, maybe even more. I saw, right, Baylor beat a 6-win team last week and jumped up 5 spots. We did the same thing today, pretty handedly, so we’ll see how that is.”