Try as they might, the Florida Gators couldn't match the Florida State Seminoles for very long in their matchup at The Swamp today. The Seminoles pulled away for a 37-7 victory, and will leave Gainesville and head to the ACC Championship Game (and possibly the BCS National Championship Game), while the Gators' season is officially over.
And it's about time.
The Gators began their tilt with the second-ranked Seminoles in much of the way we all expected. Little to no offense, a good start on defense and terrible special teams.
Even though the Seminole wide receivers had a little help with pushing off or pulling off the Gator defense backs and their offensive line's holding ability was ready for the Gators' pass rush, I don't think it would have mattered all that much. It's just nice to know that Florida State is still and will always be the same.
As for the rest of the action on the field, the Gators don't have much to be happy about aside from a very good defensive first quarter and a solitary touchdown drive at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Skyler Mornhinweg completed 20 of 25 passes for just 115 yards and a touchdown as another weapon went down for the Gators. Trey Burton, who broke off a 50-yard run early in the game, hurt his shoulder on the play and missed the rest of the game.
Kelvin Taylor and Mack Brown were held in check all game long by a Seminoles defense that focused on stopping the run first and foremost. The two combined for just over 40 yards on 14 carries and no touchdowns. The leading receiver was Brown, who gathered in 25 yards on two catches, with the longest one coming in on a screen pass up the middle of the field.
Sadly for the Gators, though, the middle of the field was only exploited those two times.
And despite picking off Jameis Winston early, the Gators defense had no answer for him or his connection through the air with Kelvin Benjamin. Benjamin ended the day with nine catches for 212 yards and three touchdowns, with one of those touchdowns coming on a play in which he literally threw back the Gators' defensive back before catching the ball wide open for the score.
It was just one of many early no-calls that helped the Seminoles build up their insurmountable lead.
The win for Florida State was their third win in the last four tries against the Gators, and brings the series record to 34-22-2 in favor of the Gators. And losing to your rivals is never a good feeling, although this loss was as expected as any loss in recent Gators memory.
After all the negativity that this season has brought out in us, it's finally time to hang up the chinstraps until spring practice. We'll still talk a lot of football between now and then. We've still got to finish up the recruiting cycle as we head towards February.
I'm sure the program will undergo some changes before the start of the next season, but for the remainder of this season, is it too early to say "Roll Tide!" or "War Damn Eagle" ... or "SOMEONE BEAT FLORIDA STATE PLEASE"?
I hope not.