Florida St. Seminoles vs. Florida Gators, 12 pm ET, ESPN
I joked last week on Twitter that I was looking forward to this game -- because I've never seen a team score 90 before. I don't really expect Florida State to score 90 in this one, because the Florida defense still has some semblance of an ability to stop the other team, but there is no joking in saying that this game is probably going to get ugly early.
Jameis Winston is going to play in this game, sexual assault investigation or no. The shell of a Florida team that gave South Carolina a valiant game but then imploded in the loss to Georgia Southern is going to play in this game. And they will face a Florida State team that is among the top 10 in the NCAA in the following categories: total offense, passing efficiency, scoring offense, total defense, passing yardage defense, passing efficiency defense, scoring defense, third-down conversion percentage, third-down conversion percentage defense, red zone offense, kickoff returns and (because they obviously need it) turnover margin.
The question in this game, as long as you're not a coach or player whose goal should always be to win, is what Florida can do to keep the game close. And in that respect, there is an ever so small window of hope for Florida. The Gators have their own Top 10 credentials in total defense, passing defense and passing efficiency defense. (These were obviously of no use in the Georgia Southern game.) And third-down conversion percentage defense. They are ranked second in the SEC in time of possession. Finally, the "weak link" in the Seminoles defense -- in the sense that it's ranked 17th in the nation despite all the blowouts by FSU -- is rushing defense.
Expect Florida to do what it was basically going to do regardless: Run the ball, run the ball and then run the ball a little more. (This is Brent Pease we're talking about, so there's no guarantee, but that would be the smartest play.) If you get a good enough performance out of the defense, it might be enough to keep things kind of close late into the game. And you take your chances from there.
It might keep things kind of close, but it probably won't be. Florida is a team that is basically playing out the string -- even if you want to say that it's playing hard as it's playing out the string -- and it won't take much to either make them press too hard or kill the team's morale. It's going to get ugly in the Swamp, and the season will end far too late for most of the fans that have watched the season play out so far.
Florida State 45, Florida 17