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FSU 38, Florida 22: Gators thud to the finish

Florida had a chance to break a streak against FSU. Feleipe Franks broke the Gators’ backs instead.

NCAA Football: Florida State at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Incredibly, the Florida Gators trailed by just eight points entering the fourth quarter of their game against the Florida State Seminoles on Saturday.

Sure, that lead FSU enjoyed was largely the product of Feleipe Franks coughing up the turnovers leading to the three FSU touchdowns to that point. Sure, it should’ve been a seven-point deficit, if not for another meaningful failure on an extra point. But Florida’s offense had managed to score two touchdowns to compensate. Florida’s offense doesn’t score two touchdowns all that often!

Then FSU scored its first — and only — touchdown without the aid of a turnover on the day.

And then Franks threw his third pick of the day — a walk-in pick-six for Matthew Thomas, who subsequently failed to walk it in by stumbling after prematurely celebrating, because Florida State has never achieved a success that did not later get cheapened — and the Seminoles scored shortly afterward, to put the game out of reach.

The final score was FSU 38, Florida 22. It was not that close.

Franks’ three picks and one fumble led to 28 points for the Seminoles, with 14 of them coming from defensive touchdowns, and his meager contributions to the Gators’ cause — 184 yards and two touchdowns through the air, with 75 of those yards and both touchdowns allocated to Brandon Powell — were far outweighed by his aid to the enemy. Mark Thompson had one of his finest games as a Gator, running for 63 yards and a touchdown. Florida’s defense held FSU gamely for as long as it could — a recurring theme over the five-year string of losses to the Seminoles, the longest in school history — but got wounded by poorly-timed penalties and clutch throws, and gave up scores when it mattered most.

This was, in other words, the sort of loss to Florida State anyone who has seen even one game of Florida football over the last five years could have sketched out with little effort.

Fortunately for Florida, hope is a renewable resource — and even if Florida’s public pursuit of Chip Kelly was confirmed as a failure on Saturday, as Kelly was officially announced as UCLA’s head coach, the Gators have the means to bring in another good coach and afford that coach enough resources to make Florida a contender for SEC and national titles.

That coach might succeed. That coach might fail.

But that hope won’t die.

Probably, anyway.