Florida's defense this season is actually better than 2008's SEC and National Championship team. At this point in 2008, UF had allowed an average of 12 points and 279 yards per game. Now, they are allowing 10 points and 230 yards per game. To be fair, the 2009 team has faced lesser out-of-conference teams and a weakened SEC East. But they have had to shoulder the load more than 2008's team in that the 2009 offense is not scoring like last season's offense (46ppg in 2008; 36ppg in 2009; ypg is nearly equal).
Florida State's offense is scoring about the same, but plagued by the same inability to finish as the Gators. (34ppg, 380ypg in 2008; 31ppg, 434ypg in 2009). The Noles have been also hurt by the loss of Christian Ponder, forcing E.J. Manuel into a role he was not ready to play (three interceptions last week against Maryland). That FSU's defense is allowing an average of 30 points and 434 yards per game, only puts more pressure on the first year starter.
The question isn't that will FSU score, despite the title. But, will they score enough to win?
As a homer, I have confidence in the Gator defense, especially on Senior Day. But, aside from a seven point crapfest against USF when they couldn't do anything right in the red zone, FSU scores enough to scare the Gators. Without Ponder, their passing game suffers but Manuel can run the ball. He has rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown in wins against Wake Forest and Maryland, while throwing 4 INTs, 1 TD and 426 yards.
RB Jermaine Thomas will be leaned on, but he needs about 20 touches to make a real impact. CB/KR Greg Reid (834 return yards, 1 TD) is also trying his hardest to get people to pay attention to him;
"Oh yeah. Hopefully they’ll punt the ball to me," Reid said. "I’m pretty sure Urban Meyer, I ain’t scared of him, I ain’t afraid of him. I know he wants to kind of get some payback. So I hope he brings it. I hope they punt the ball to me maybe three or four times. Out of them, I’m gonna take one of them to the house, I know that."
But the offense for FSU rests on the shoulders on young Manuel. Which is a huge advantage for the Gators. I would expect the Gators to try to make Manuel beat them, since he has not shown yet that he can take over a game.