Florida’s offense drove almost the length of the field on its first drive against Florida State on Saturday night. After a touchback, it covered 73 yards on eight plays, and faced a fourth and goal from the FSU 2.
It was a fine idea to go for the touchdown on that next play: The worst-case scenario was just a failure that would force the Seminoles to go even further on their next drive.
Florida didn’t convert on that fourth down, though. And it didn’t come close to scoring a touchdown again. Or convert a third down. Or go more than 25 yards on a play.
That’s how the Gators lost, 31-13, to the Seminoles, for the fourth straight season:
Sorry, no offense.
Florida’s defense did its damnedest, as it always has. Deondre Francois was rendered largely pedestrian, throwing for 138 yards — his second-fewest of the year — one touchdown, and one pick. After Dalvin Cook rolled up nearly 100 yards in the first quarter, he finished with 153 on the ground and 179 total on 29 touches, a tally that could have been far, far worse.
FSU missed two field goals, too, having one blocked, and coughed up a touchdown on special teams, as Marcell Harris scooped up a fumble and scored the Gators’ only six-pointer of the night.
But Florida’s offense just couldn’t do anything after that first drive. Austin Appleby threw for 140 yards on 32 attempts, for a pitiful 4.4 yards per attempt, and lost 44 yards on the ground. Jordan Scarlett was largely bottled up, rushing for just 53 yards on 14 attempts. Antonio Callaway had 82 total yards on seven offensive touches, but also couldn’t haul in Appleby’s best pass of the night ... which was still slightly overthrown.
And so the Seminoles leaned on Cook and Francois (63 rushing yards) to pound away, and Florida all but fell over, that beleaguered defense losing Jordan Sherit, Duke Dawson, and Quincy Wilson for at least a few snaps on this night.
The day will come when Florida can stand and trade with FSU again. The history of the series between the schools shows more than a few swings in the rivalry, which tends to be dominated by one team, then the other.
But Saturday night was not that night, and those Gators have not yet arrived. And these Gators have to get off the mat to face college football’s ultimate heavyweight next week.