Saturday’s meeting is a rarity for the Sunshine State series.
It’s only the second time since the series began in 1958 that both schools have losing records coming into the game. The only other time it happened was 1959, when the Seminoles were 3-5 and the Gators were 3-4-1. Florida went on to win, 18-8.
Both teams are 4-6 after winning on Saturday — Florida State defeated Delaware State 77-6, and Florida stopped a four-game slide with a 36-7 victory over UAB.
The last time the Seminoles had a losing record when they faced the Gators this late in the season was 1973, when they were 0-10. This is the third time since 1979 that Florida has been under .500 heading into the FSU game.
This also marks only the fifth time since 1978 that neither team is ranked.
“Both teams are extremely used to success. Always have been, always will be, and will be in the future,” Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. “That’s why it’s one of the great rivalries because there’s true meaning in the outcome of the game.”
Florida interim coach Randy Shannon said the game still has significance due to former high school teammates going up against each other.
“They take a lot of pride in what they do at Florida State, just like we do at Florida,” he said. “A lot of these guys on this football team have former teammates at Florida State. So when they go home, who gets the bragging rights? It’s not just one day, it’s the whole entire year.”
The game has more immediate significance for the Seminoles, who are trying to keep a couple streaks alive.
—They have won four straight against the Gators, matching their longest winning streak against Florida (1977-80, 1987-90).
—Florida State needs a win on Saturday and Dec. 2 against Louisiana Monroe to become bowl eligible for the 36th consecutive season. It is trying to avoid its first losing campaign since Bobby Bowden’s first year in 1976.
“We know that our bowl hopes and the streaks are riding on it. This week is important for our season and for us to come out on top,” center Alec Eberle said.
Fisher, who is 6-1 against Florida, said the game still has significance on how a season is judged. He said he learned that first-hand in 2012.
“I remember we were 12-2 and lost to Florida that year and won an Orange Bowl and everyone was mad,” he said. “We won the ACC. And people weren’t happy.”
While Gators fans are focusing on who might be the team’s next coach, Shannon said the message to players this week has been to focus on what they can control.
Shannon said if a new coach is named this week, it won’t be a distraction.
“The only job I worry about is the job I got now,” he said. “That’s the interim head coach. I don’t worry about anything else. If I worry about anything else, I wouldn’t do my job now. I really don’t worry about those types of things, to be honest with you.”