One of the last bits of mystery about the Florida Gators’ regular season stood to either depress or thrill fans when it was revealed. That mystery — the kickoff time and TV network for the Gators’ regular season finale against Florida State — was solved on Monday, as the SEC and its broadcast partners revealed next week’s TV schedule.
Florida is welcoming FSU to The Swamp for a night game.
The Gators’ November 30 meeting with the Seminoles will kick off at 7:30 p.m. and air on the SEC Network, marking the first time in the rivalry’s history that it will air on ESPN’s SEC-only channel.
That stage really isn’t unfair given the Seminoles’ stature. At 6-5, Florida State will be returning to a bowl game for the first time since its decades-long, national-record — well, if you don’t listen to the NCAA — bowl streak ended, but the firing of Willie Taggart in early November has put the Seminoles deep in limbo, and even a promising rebound over the two games of Odell Haggins’s second stint as interim head coach might prove to be a dead-cat bounce against a Florida team that walloped FSU by a 41-14 count in Tallahassee a year ago.
That’s especially true because of how the Gators have struggled to beat FSU in The Swamp of late, going 0-4 in home games against the Seminoles this decade.
And Florida faceplanting in night games against FSU of late has been a recent trend.
In 2011, the Seminoles nabbed a 21-7 victory in an excruciating game in which Florida held FSU under 100 offensive yards but mustered just 184 yards of its own; in 2015, Florida gamely held FSU in check until a fourth quarter in which Dalvin Cook ran wild, and needed a late safety to preserve its decades-long scoring streak — one that actually appears in NCAA record books as a national record — in a 27-2 loss.
In 2016, in the lone night game played in Tallahassee in the series this decade, FSU got another 160 rushing yards from Cook and held Florida without an offensive touchdown for the second straight year in a 31-13 victory.
But Florida’s romp a year ago and its stellar 2019 campaign would seem to portend a strong showing for the Gators this year — and a down FSU may make for some of the smallest throngs of Seminoles to visit Gainesville in recent memory.
Having the game played at night? That’s the cherry on top of a sweet, sweet opportunity.