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It has been a very difficult year for Florida football fans as they saw its team sink to unexpected lows that resulted in the dismissal of Dan Mullen and two of his coaching staff. Sure, many foresaw a rebuilding year but nobody expected this dumpster fire of a season.
I feel like I have said this before. Because I have… several times already.
The last item on the regular-season schedule is the annual rivalry game with the Florida State Seminoles, which takes place on the hallowed grounds of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium this year. Once upon a time, this game was the gateway to a national championship but times have certainly changed. The two schools have fallen far, now in 2021 playing a game that decides who gets to even appear in a bowl game and who stays home.
So how will things pan out against the Gators’ perennial rivals? Here is what the Gators Wire staff predicts to go down this weekend. Spoiler alert: we are completely split on the issue.
Adam Dubbin - Managing Editor
UAA Communications/Tim Casey
It has been practically impossible to make any legitimate predictions for this team in 2021 and the final matchup of the regular season schedule does not get any easier. There have been Jekyll and Hyde moments for this team where you can see a talented squad that can run with the best in the country (see: Alabama game). But most of the time, we get the villainous Mr. Hyde who completely bungles any chances of earning wins.
This Saturday, there will be one fewer face on the sidelines with Dan Mullen’s departure as Greg Knox takes over as the interim head coach. If anything, there is the possibility of addition by subtraction with the absence of the former skipper, who himself was reported to have said that he did not want to be a distraction to the team.
So with the Gators returning home to play its final game in the Swamp in front of the Orange and Blue faithful, paired with the fact that FSU is one of those “anything can happen” rivalry games, I think our guys will gut it out and pull off the win to earn a bid is some no-name bowl game, but it will not be pretty.
Florida 31, FSU 24
Tyler Nettuno - Assistant Editor/Writer
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Given the way this team has performed, I was fully expecting to pick Florida State to win this game in comfortable fashion. Last week’s loss to Missouri was somehow simultaneously a better performance and worse performance than I predicted, but with bowl eligibility on the line, I expect the team to come out playing hard in this game.
The problem is, Florida fired coach Dan Mullen after Mullen dismissed defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and offensive line coach John Hevesy. So, UF is down three coaches in this one against a team that has rapidly improved this year in a game without much to play for other than in-state bragging rights.
I think this could be a good matchup for Florida, and it should be able to score some points after struggling in that regard last week. But the Seminoles are 5-2 since starting the year 0-4, and I just can’t quite talk myself into the Gators pulling this one off.
Florida State 34, Florida 31
Pat Dooley - Staff Writer
Matt Pendleton/USA TODAY NETWORK
You might think Florida will play with an attitude. But it’s hard to see a team without its defensive coordinator and offensive play-caller on the sidelines being on the right page. And the way FSU has won its last two games tells you these guys are going all out.
FSU 28, Florida 21
David Rosenberg - Staff Writer
FAP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack
The Gators haven’t played up to their potential in weeks, and Dan Mullen is now officially out as head coach at Florida. The team didn’t get its act together after defensive coordinator Todd Grantham left, so I’m hesitant to say that this is the week Florida gets back to playing as it did against USF in Week 2. But Anthony Richardson was the catalyst for one of Florida’s best games of the year, and he’ll be getting the start on Saturday with Emory Jones injured. With that in mind, I think Florida pulls out the win by a narrow margin.
Florida may have let up 52 points to Samford, but it didn’t lose the game. The same can’t be said for Florida State when it faced Jacksonville State in Week 2. It won’t be perfect on Saturday, but I like AR-15 to get the offense going against Florida’s biggest in-state rival. The basketball team took care of work against the ‘Noles this year, and now it’s time for the football team to follow suit.
Florida 34, Florida State 28