Swamp success: No. 8 Florida ends 4-game home skid vs FSU
GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Kyle Trask threw three first-half touchdown passes, including two to Freddie Swain, and No. 8 Florida hammered rival Florida State 40-17 to end a four-game, home losing streak in the series.
The Gators (10-2, No. 11 CFP) locked up consecutive 10-win seasons for the first time in a decade, finished unbeaten at home for the first time in four years and celebrated their first winning streak against the Seminoles since 2009.
Florida scored touchdowns on four of its first five possessions, needing two fourth-down conversions to get the first two, and was able to start celebrating before halftime. Receiver Kadarius Toney taunted FSU players by posing and pointing at a scoreboard as they left the field at halftime.
The pass-happy, one-dimensional Gators picked apart FSU's beleaguered defense, a scene rarely seen in a game that typically features stout defenses. Trask completed 30 of 41 passes for 343 yards, including two short ones to Swain that went for scores.
Swain caught a screen pass, waited for a block, split two defenders and sprinted 19 yards to cap the opening drive. He made it 20-7 in the second quarter when he broke a tackle near the sideline, outran one defender and bowled through another at the goal line.
Swain watched the second half from the sideline in street clothes because of a leg injury. He finished with five receptions for 62 yards.
Fellow senior Van Jefferson also had two TD catches, one from Trask and another from backup Emory Jones.
The sold-out Swamp was rocking most of the night and the home crowd got something it hadn't seen since Tim Tebow's senior season in 2009 - a victory over FSU in Gainesville. The Gators had lost four in a row at home in the series - and by a combined 85 points.
The stadium was packed until Evan McPherson's field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter. That made it 40-17 and sent thousands scrambling for the exits.
No one expected the Seminoles (6-6) to keep it close. Oddsmakers had them as 17 1/2-point underdogs.
Longtime assistant and interim head coach Odell Haggins had hoped to strengthen his case to replace fired coach Willie Taggart. But the Seminoles showed some of the same issues that plagued Taggart's tenure.
FSU was flagged for being offside after stopping a fourth-down run and was later penalized for illegal formation before the Seminoles recovered a muffed punt. The Gators scored after both miscues.
The 'Noles had a few highlights, but one stood out.
James Blackman threw a backward pass to receiver D.J. Matthews, who ran across the field, eluded two defenders, slipped out of an ankle tackle and then flipped an underhanded pass to Tamorrion Terry for a 25-yard gain that set up a field goal.
Florida State: The Seminoles gave up eight sacks and finished with 250 yards, resulting in a second straight lopsided loss in the series. Whoever the next coach is will inherit a program with plenty of deficiencies.
Florida: Coach Dan Mullen improved to 6-0 against FSU, including 4-0 as Florida’s offensive coordinator (2005-08). He looked like he was trying to run up the score late when he called for a fake punt on a fourth-and-1 play at his own 19. Punter Tommy Townsend was tackled short of the markers.
Still, it showed how much emphasis Mullen puts on rivalry games.
Florida should remain in the top 10 of the AP college football poll, especially with No. 5 Alabama, No. 9 Minnesota and 10th-ranked Michigan all losing.
Florida State: Safety Hamsah Nasirildeen, the team's top tackler, left the field on a cart and with an air cast on his left leg in the second quarter. Nasirildeen notched his 100th tackle of the season before getting hurt. He became the fourth FSU defender since 2000 to accomplish that feat and first defensive back.
Defensive tackle Cory Durden and offensive tackle Ryan Roberts also left the game in the second quarter.
Florida: Defensive end and fifth-year senior Jabari Zuniga, one of the team's most disruptive pass-rushers, missed his seventh game of the season. Zuniga sustained a high ankle sprain at Kentucky in mid-September, but tried twice to play through pain and ended up re-injuring it. He should be able to get healthy enough to play in Florida's bowl game.
Florida State: Will play in a bowl game for the 37th time in the last 38 years. The Seminoles failed to become bowl eligible last year and missed the postseason for the first time since 1981.
Florida: Hopes to land a spot in the New Year's Six, likely the Orange or Cotton.
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