Saturday, November 28, 2009

Florida-Florida State Preview: Can FSU Spoil Tebow's Senior Day?

Florida State Seminoles at Florida Gators
Saturday 3:30 ET TV: CBS

Line: Florida -24

Tim Tebow will play his final game in front of the Florida faithful in The Swamp Saturday against arch rival Florida State. The Seminoles are bowl eligible, but a win here would make their year in an otherwise disappointing season.

This rivalry was arguably the best in the nation during the 90s with the two teams vying for national titles nearly every year.

Florida is en route to a third national title in four seasons, led by Tebow who is looking for an undefeated record against FSU in his career on Saturday.

However, he Seminoles have fallen on rough times as of late losing five straight to the Gators and some are calling for legendary head coach Bobby Bowden to step down in Tallahassee.

Keys For Florida:

1. Red Zone

The Gators rank 98th in red zone conversions this season scoring on just 74 percent of their trips inside the opponent 20. Even worse, they are scoring touchdowns less than 50 percent of the time. The culprit many times has been turnovers which the Gators will need to reverse against FSU.

FSU is about average nationally ranking 47th in opponent red zone conversions. This maligned defense will need to step up to have a chance at the upset.

2. Experienced Defense vs Inexperienced QB

With Christian Ponder out for the season, Sophomore EJ Manuel has taken over at QB for FSU. But the Virginia native has thrown four picks on the season in just 51 attempts.

This Gator defense is tops in the nation in pass defense and ranks seventh in interceptions. If Florida can rattle Manuel early they have a good chance at blowing the 'Noles out.

Keys For Florida State:

1. Plug The Middle

To slow down an option team like Florida, you have to stop it from the inside out. The Gators favorite and most successful play is the dive.

If FSU can force the ball outside then it puts Tebow at a bigger risk of getting hit and forcing turnovers.

2. Establish A Running Game

Over their last three games, the Seminoles have done a much better job running the ball at a clip of 181 per game. They need to continue this trend to help out their young QB and to play keep away from the explosive Gator offense.

Florida is pretty good at stopping the run ranking seventh, but if they have a weakness it may be up the middle with their defensive tackles. If I am Charlie Strong, I try to plug the middle and force the 'Noles outside and let my speed pursue.


If Florida were to lose on Tim Tebow's Senior Day with a BCS Championship berth on the line it would go down as one of the most disappointing losses in Florida history.

The Heisman trophy and two time national champion has kept his promise since the Ole Miss game last year leading the Gators to 21 straight wins.

I don't see that changing Saturday.

Florida Wins
Florida Covers -24

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