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Florida State 24, Florida 19: Gators Come Up Just Short

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The Will Muschamp era comes to a close with a near miss at a win in Tallahassee.

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Florida State's death defying season continues on after barely closing out Florida 24-19.

Jameis Winston continued his pattern of rough first halves by becoming the first quarterback in I-A to throw three interceptions in the first quarter of a game. The Gators only managed a pair of field goals off of the first two, and they got a third field goal to go up 9-0 early. On the first play after Winston's third INT, a Treon Harris pass went off of Tevin Westbrook's hands and into those of Terrance Smith, who returned it 94 yards for a touchdown. The Gators would cash in a fumble recovery for a touchdown, but otherwise the Seminoles owned the second quarter and led 21-16 at the half.

Florida chipped away at FSU throughout the second half, but they only managed a sole field goal during the third quarter. It pulled them within two, but Austin Hardin's field goal streak ended with misses from 52 and 42. Roberto Aguayo pushed the lead out to more than a field goal with 3:23 to go, leaving one final drive to settle the game. It should have ended after four plays, but a very questionable pass interference penalty kept the game going. Harris missed on three more long passes, and on 4th-and-10, he threw it behind Demarcus Robinson, who just couldn't haul in the pass. FSU ran out the clock from there to seal the deal.

Florida's defense had a great game, forcing Winston into four interceptions and limiting him to 12/24 for 125 yards (5.2 YPA). It simply couldn't deal with Dalvin Cook, who rushed for 144 yards on 24 carries, and Nick O'Leary, who caught four passes for 52 yards and both FSU offensive touchdowns. Harris had a rough game throwing, going 13/32 for 169 yards (5.3 YPA) with a touchdown and two picks. The Gators couldn't get their run game going at all against the stiff FSU front, so Harris ended up the leading rusher with 41 yards on 9 carries, many of them scrambles. Brian Poole caught two of Winston's four interceptions, while Jabari Gorman and Quincy Wilson each had one as well.

Florida State is another game closer to the College Football Playoff, though it feels like it's only a matter of time before the dam bursts and it can't come back from its early deficits. Muschamp couldn't get the fairy tale ending to his UF tenure that Ron Zook did a decade ago, but his team came far closer to winning this one than anyone had though. Defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin will coach the bowl game for the Gators, who have little to do now but wait and wonder who the next head coach will be.