It’s close now. The rivalry has returned to the heights where it belongs and today we will witness the No. 4 Florida Gators take on the No. 10 Florida State Seminoles. Hatred is plentiful just two days after we all gave thanks. That’s how it is meant to be though. There’s a purpose to the hatred between two bitter rivals and we all accept it as the norm. We’re taught not to hate as children, but this sort of hate is a different animal all together. It’s rivalry hate and we all have it flowing through our blood today.
The Gators have a chance to finish the 2012 college football regular season with a record of 11-1 (7-1 SEC). That’s right, this Florida team already has 10 wins (Achievement Unlocked) and is one rivalry-fueled, 60-minute battle away from win 11. On the other side, FSU is in the same position. The Seminoles are also 10-1 with just one conference loss, looking to not add another L to the tally. These teams always want this one with an added sense of accomplishment when the victory comes, but with lofty heights renewed it feels bigger.
For the Gators to remain mighty and get that final victory on the regular season, they have to be flawless. We’ve experienced a team with a sluggish offense, a stellar defense, and so many questions in between. Florida’s one loss was an ugly six-turnover debacle which the Gators were actually in until the very end. This Gators’ team has defied logic and won games that felt like losses and somehow remained in that loss to (another bitter rival) Georgia despite putting forth a stomach-turning effort. That all means, despite nervousness reaching epic proportions, that Florida could come out of today victorious.
Many believe the Florida State offense will be too much for the Gators. Not that the Florida defense can’t contain the ‘Noles, but more of the thoughts that the Gators’ offense can’t keep up. If FSU can manage to get north of 20 points, that nervousness sets in because none of us have any idea what we’re going to get out of Florida’s offense. Due to that, the Gators must limit turnovers (read: not have any, at all) and cut down on the three-and-outs.
Florida gave an ugly game to Georgia with turnover after turnover. Due to problems moving the ball on offense, the Gators can’t afford to turn over the ball to the Seminoles. FSU could easily take advantage of Florida mistakes and jump out to an insurmountable lead. Along those same lines, the Gators must extend drives. We’re all very aware that Florida won’t score on every drive, but three-and-outs that take less than two minutes off of the clock have killed the Gators this season.
So…hold on to the ball and extend drives. Those keys are for the offense, where the most improvement is needed. Then again, the Gators are 10-1. Basically, what do we know? Whatever they’ve done has worked 10 out of 11 times this season. It hasn’t always been pretty, but it has resulted in more wins than were expected. But, that said, limiting turnovers and putting together lengthy drives only increases the Gators’ chances of securing another victory. A victory we’re nervous we may not see, but also one we’re confident Florida can get. And that pretty much sums up the entire 2012 season for the Florida Gators.