Ron Cunningham, The Sun’s editorial page editor, came by my desk Monday afternoon to let me know he has a strong feeling the Gators are going to upset the Seminoles on Saturday. In fact, I think he guaranteed it. I like Ron, enjoy talking football (and politics) with him and certainly respect his opinion. But I just don’t agree with him on this one.
After watching the mighty Gators get pushed around on both lines of scrimmage by Furman (are you kidding me, Furman?) last Saturday, the Gators will be fortunate to even stay in this game. The biggest mismatch on the field will be FSU’s defensive front against a UF offensive line that can’t seem to block anybody (even Furman, which is still hard to fathom). John Brantley’s ankle is close to 100 percent and he’ll be able to line up under center for the first time since his injury, so that should help some. But how long will he keep his health in this game, especially if the Gators get stuffed in the running game (likely to happen) and Brantley has to throw on almost every down. This could turn into a real sackfest — and a painful final game in The Swamp for Brantley, the life-long Gator.
As for the Florida defense, well, the Gators gave up more than 400 yards to Furman (are you kidding me, Furman?), including a 77-yard TD run right up the middle in the second half. FSU has really struggled in the running game this season, but then everybody has success on the ground against the Gators. I’m sure E.J. Manuel has enjoyed watching tape this week of South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw run around and through the Gators a few weeks ago. Manuel is going to have the chance to make a lot of plays in this game with his arm and his legs.
Overall, I don’t think the Seminoles are that much better than the Gators. But they do have a considerable edge on the line of scrimmage, and that will be the difference in this one.
Prediction: Florida State 28, Florida 17.