When Florida State lost their first ACC game against Wake Forest, losing 12-3, it looked like a long season for the Seminoles. Then FSU (8-3) rips off four wins in a row, including a win in a monsoon at Miami. But since November, the Noles have been Chief Osceola and Mr. Hyde. (Get it? Good and bad? Seriously, that's a Pulitzer winning sentence.)
On November 1, FSU allowed 288 yards to the Georgia Tech rushing attack in a 31-28 loss. The Noles also had three turnovers, including a backbreaker inside the five yard line as they drove for the game winning score in the final minutes.
After handling a toothless Clemson on Nov. 8 (a 41-27 win), the Noles looked terrible in their black "Unconquered" unis as they lost 27-17 to Boston College. Once again, three turnovers did not help the FSU cause, all interceptions by Christian Ponder. The Flying Catholics shut down the FSU running game, allowing 73 yards, and placing the game's outcome on Ponder's shoulders. Had Ponder played better, FSU might have won since BC also had three turnovers.
As we all know now, FSU won the Myron Rolle Bowl last week with a 37-3 win over Maryland. The Noles had zero turnovers and their defense manhandled the Terps with four takeaways and allowing only 252 yards.
Florida should win this game, but games are not played on paper. FSU is good enough to win and at some point, the Noles will win again in the series. This year might be their best chance since 2004 when Ron Zook was carried off the field in Tallahassee. But FSU must play even better than they did last week. Florida will not turn the ball over like Maryland did. Florida is tied with Oklahoma for the best turnover margin in the nation (28 takeaways/10 turnovers; FSU is 60th with 22/22). Florida State has to get out front quickly. If they fall behind, Ponder will have to pitch it around and Florida's secondary will be ready (20 interceptions, tied for 3rd nationally). Gator fans should be confident, but rivalry games are a different beast. FSU is seventh in total defense. If that is who shows up, it could be a long day for the Gators.