The Florida Gators nightmare 2017 season came to an end Saturday afternoon in Gainesville, as the Florida State Seminoles picked up a 38-22 victory and won the Sunshine Showdown for the fifth straight year.
Feleipe Franks struggled mightily for the Gators, throwing three interceptions (one of which was returned for a touchdown) and losing a fumble that the Seminoles also took for a touchdown. It’s curious that Florida recruited graduate transfer Malik Zaire so hard for him to throw just 56 passes on the season. Zaire likely wouldn’t have been the cure to Florida’s woes, but he probably deserved more of a shot than he got. Though, Zaire played a couple weeks ago, got hurt, and was kept in the game by Randy Shannon anyway, so who really knows.
Back to the game, Florida State was really never in danger of losing. It was 7-7 after the first quarter, but it felt like a matter of time before they took full control. FSU scored two touchdowns (one was the aforementioned pick six) and a field goal to take a 24-13 lead into the half.
From there, it improved a little for the Gators. The only scoring in the third quarter came on a Florida field goal to cut the lead to 24-16 heading into the fourth quarter. If nothing else, the Gators defense did an excellent job against James Blackman Saturday afternoon, limiting him to 128 passing yards. In fact, Florida outgained Florida State, 280-216. It goes to show how Franks’ turnovers really impacted the game.
Cam Akers scampered in for a ten-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, then Blackman found Auden Tate on FSU’s next drive to extend the lead to 38-16. Florida would add a garbage time touchdown with 37 seconds to play, but it was far too little too late.
The Gators finish the year at 4-7 and attention turns to their coaching search. It won’t be Chip Kelly though, as he accepted UCLA’s head coaching job Saturday.