Florida visits Florida State this Saturday with a lot to play for. As Andy has shown, the Gators need only to win in order to secure a BCS berth, and if coupled with a Notre Dame loss, could very well land in the National Championship game. However, Florida State presents a significant challenge to Florida's goals, and will be ready to protect their home turf and tear down one of the SEC's top teams.
It is interesting to note that this will be the first time since 2000 that both teams enter the game ranked in the top 10. Is this signaling a rise back to the rivalry's glory days in the 1990s, when every literally every game was a top 10 matchup?
And when Florida and Florida State meet on the field of play, which statistical trends have shown to be the most telling? I've combed through the box scores of the last 10 games to bestow on you the best information going in to game day.
1. The team with the most rushing yards is 7-3.
Florida has gained the most rushing yards each year since 2002.
2. The team that scores first is 7-3.
Even if those points are just a field goal.
3. The team leading at halftime is 10-0.
Hope for that one to be in Florida's favor, but also remember Florida came back to beat Texas A&M and LSU this season.
4. The team that wins the turnover battle is 5-1.
In the past 10 meetings, overall turnovers have been nearly even (Florida is +1). If a team is +2 in TO margin, they are 5-0. There have been four meetings where the teams were even in turnovers.
5. The team with the most total yards is 7-3.
Florida has gained the most total yards in seven of the past 10 meetings.
6. The team with the highest yards per pass attempt is 9-1.
This is an interesting metric, since Urban Meyer's teams relied so heavily on the run. This is why it's important to look at yards per attempt, and not per completion. A team that is being efficient with their passing plays will have opportunities to set up the run, as both teams have looked to do in the past.
7. The team with the highest third down conversion percentage is 8-1.
Last season, both teams were a putrid 2-for-15 (13%). The 2011 game was an embarrassment for both teams: FSU just happened to be less pitiful, i.e. they capitalized on four Florida turnovers.
8. The team with the highest yards per play is 8-2.
Similar to yards per pass attempt, this points not just to your total yards, but the efficiency of your offensive output during each snap. For example, in the 2009 game, Florida averaged an absurd 8.8 yards per snap.
9. The team with the higher time of possession is 10-0.
I was pretty surprised by this trend, because it's not always the case in games, especially close ones. But there it was, even when the margin was just one or two minutes.
10. The home team is 5-5.
This has been a streaky series as of late. FSU won 5 of 6 games from 1998-2003, then Florida won six in a row from 2004 to 2009. Urban was 5-1 against the 'Noles, and Spurrier never won at Doak, while [name redacted] took down Bobby on the night they dedicated the field to him in 2004. It's been a little weird.
So take this information, dear Gators, and go show off to your friends and family, pretending to delve the supercomputer of your mind to pluck out obscure statistics and trends. May it also hold you in comfort or terror as the game marches on, and if your team isn't faring well in important trends (turnovers, halftime lead), then say:
"Screw statistics, this is sports and anything can happen!"