Florida and Florida State both sit at 5-6 and both know a win is required on Saturday for bowl eligibility.
By Steve Wright
It is a sad state for two proud – and successful – programs, but the extra month of practice time for reaching even a low-end bowl makes this an important rivalry clash. Here are the three keys/
1 – Stop the run game
This is a bad matchup stylistically for Florida. The Seminoles want to run the ball and when quarterback Jordan Harris is healthy – which he currently is – his run threat opens up holes for running back Jashaun Corbin. Corbin leads the ACC with 6.4 yards per carry and the ‘Noles have 22 rushes of 20 yards or more on the year. The Florida run D can be gashed by big plays – Tyler Badie went for 100 yards in the second half for Mizzou last week and the less said about the LSU game the better – and it has to be better here.
2 – No costly turnovers
Florida throws too many interceptions. This has been an issue for the team all season and their number of 15 interceptions thrown on the year is No. 125 in the nation. The Seminoles will counter that with a defense riding a seven-game streak with a pick, the longest streak the school has had since 2007. It will be interesting to see if the game plan is more ground-based with safe throws peppered in now running backs coach Greg Know is at the helm on an interim basis as opposed to Dan Mullen who loved to air it out.
3 – Nullify Jermaine Johnson
In a year full of disappointing players and teams in the state, Florida State defensive end Jermaine Johnson has been anything but. He has 11 sacks on the season so far, the most for the Seminoles since 2106. The Florida offensive line has allowed just 11 sacks as a unit, though there have been games where that protection has suddenly disappeared and left the quarterbacks scrambling for their lives. If Johnson is allowed to take over it is trouble.