The Florida State Seminoles stomped all over the Idaho Vandals on Saturday, as expected, winning the ball game 80-14, and now all eyes turn to the hated Gators. Yes, there will be talk about last year's beating of the 'Noles and how observers should "throw the records out of the window" for the rivalry game; but folks stop.
When it boils down to it, the 2013 edition Florida Gators have no business on the field with the Seminoles.
In the state of Florida, the story is of two rivals who are having polar-opposite seasons. The Seminoles sit at No. 2 in the BCS Standings, undefeated and tracking for their first title shot in over a decade. Meanwhile, the Gators are 4-7, and are going to miss a bowl game for the first time since 1990.
As Dave Paschall of the Times Free Press points out, this losing season and missed postseason kills the SEC's longest streak of relative success. Now, with Florida State stomping into Gainesville over the holiday weekend, an ugly season is poised to get uglier.
The Seminoles are playing like a team possessed. The defense is suffocating opponents. The run game is creating holes and forcing the issue. The passing game is exposing issues in secondaries. And head coach Jimbo Fisher's team is doing it every single week. This is not a team that starts slow, takes weeks off or is prone to struggling.
Rather, next Saturday, the Gators are going to be facing a focused, determined Seminoles team, and as the 'Noles have done all season, they will be looking to check off another box on the path to the goal. Florida becomes just like Idaho, Syracuse, NC State and Clemson, a job that must be finished to get to Pasadena.
It is a rivalry game in name, but this game has a very 2004-to-2009 feel, albeit in the reverse. Back then, the Gators were the bullies on the block, especially in Seminoles' struggle years of the "Lost Decade." It is Florida State's turn to return the favor and this team, a squad more focused than 'Noles teams of recent history, is looking to check off the Florida box in emphatic fashion.
For Florida State fans, this is not the game to fear. Why fear a team when its own coach admits, according to Adam Silverstein of OnlyGators.com, "when you give up 17 points, you hope you can score 17." 17 is a half for the 2013 Seminoles. A half of a quarter, that is. As fellow YB11 writer, and spread enthusiast Adam Kramer put it, give the Gators four touchdowns and still take the 'Noles.
Much like the Tim Tebow teams were not anything the Seminoles wanted in this rivalry game, so too are these 'Noles for the current Gators. Bravado and slick talk aside, the Seminoles are the better team. It will take a Herculean effort on the part of a Gators team that just does not have the physical team resources to put such an effort together.
Plus don't expect a sleepwalking Seminoles team to acquiesce to a loss.
Jimbo Fisher is not Mark Helfrich. He is not a first year head coach looking for a way to motivate his team. He is not a coach working with a system that lacks a curve or a slide when someone stops his fastball. Fisher is an experienced coach who is looking for a title shot out of his boys.
This coming Saturday is not going to be the miracle happy ending that Gators fans want. It is going to be the Seminoles checking off another box, a box that they have to check in order to get to the BCS Championship Game.
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