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Florida at Florida State

No. 6 Florida uses late surge to top Florida State

CBSSports.com wire reports
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida coach Will Muschamp doesn't have any doubt where his team's next stop should be: Miami for the BCS championship game on Jan. 7.

And the sixth-ranked Gators made a strong case for consideration Saturday by crushing archrival Florida State.

Mike Gillislee ran for two touchdowns and Florida scored 24 straight points in a span of less than nine minutes in the fourth quarter to keep its national title hopes alive with a convincing 37-26 win over the 10th-ranked Seminoles.

"We have a really tough football team," Muschamp said he left the field for Florida's locker room. "We should be playing for the national championship."

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Florida (11-1, 7-1 Southeastern Conference) came into the game fourth in the BCS standings, and could find itself in position to earn a spot in the national championship game if No. 1 Notre Dame loses to Southern California. The Gators lone loss was in late October to third-ranked Georgia, and it will keep them out of the SEC title game.

"Hopefully we can sneak in," said Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel, who completed 15 of 23 passes for 147 yards and a touchdown. "We're a resilient team."

He's not likely to get any argument from Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, who hoped a victory over the Gators would not only persuade pollsters that the Seminoles belonged among the elite, but win some positive attention for the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"They controlled the line of scrimmage up front," Fisher said. "They have a very good team. They did a great job."

The game matching two of the nation's best defenses went back and forth with the Seminoles scoring 20 unanswered points to take a 20-13 lead late in the third quarter. They wouldn't score again until the final play of the game and victory out of reach.

"Our guys understand that it's about all 60 minutes," Muschamp said. "We just really needed to be patient and wear them down."

Did they ever.

Florida regained the lead for keeps at 23-20 on Gillislee's 37-yard run with 11:01 left in the final period on the first play after Florida State's EJ Manuel fumbled, his fourth turnover of the game. Gillislee finished with 140 yards rushing, surpassing the 1,000-yard mark for the season early in the game.

Florida State (10-2, 7-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) was hurt by five turnovers in the game. The Seminoles will play Georgia Tech next week in the ACC title game.

Florida State was hoping to keep its own long shot national title hopes alive with a third straight win over the Gators, but couldn't.

The Seminoles had been so dominant at home, outscoring opponents 324-54 in six previous games here with Clemson doing the most damage when Florida State prevailed in a 49-37 shootout in September.

Florida, not known for its offense, rushed for 244 of its 394 yards against the nation's top-ranked defense, which has benefited from a comparatively weak schedule.

And it was that schedule and a 17-16 loss at North Carolina State last month that has provoked questions about how good the Seminoles were. They couldn't capitalize on the opportunity to prove the doubters wrong.

"We're better than them," Florida nose guard Omar Hunter said. "You have to finish the game. The fourth quarter, that's the most important quarter."

Florida salted its victory away on Driskel's 14-yard touchdown throw to Quinton Dunbar with seven minutes left and Matt Jones' 32-yard run with 2:33 left for a 37-20 lead.

Caleb Sturgis kicked three field goals for the Gators. Florida State's Dustin Hopkins had field goals of 50 and 53 yards to tie former Georgia kicker Billy Bennett's NCAA record of 87 career field goals.

Florida State scored 20 straight points to wipe out an early 13-0 deficit. Manuel threw a 6-yard TD pass to Nick O'Leary and the quarterback bootlegged in from a yard out with 8:30 remaining. When Dustin Hopkins kicked a 53-yard field goal with 4:24 left in the third, the Seminoles looked as if they were on their way.

But Florida dominated the fourth quarter.

Gillislee's go-ahead TD run came the first play after Florida's Dominque Easley recovered the fumble by Manuel, who coughed up the ball after being nailed by Antonio Morrison. Manuel had to leave the game for a series, but was unable to rally the Seminoles after returning.

It was a tough game for Manuel for the second straight year against the Gators. He threw for only 65 yards in a 21-7 win at Florida last season and was intercepted three times Saturday in addition to the costly fourth quarter fumble. It was only the second time he was intercepted three times in a game in his career.

Florida dominated the first half, building a 13-0 lead before Florida State scored on the final play of the half when Hopkins kicked a 50-yard field goal into the wind.

Sturgis hit field goals of 39 and 45 yards and Gillislee scored on a 9-yard run moments after the Gators recovered a fumble on the kickoff by Florida State's Karlos Williams at the Seminoles 21.

The Gators, who missed a golden scoring opportunity near the end of the first quarter when Trey Burton underthrew a wide open Clay Burton at about the Florida State 10, ran 25 plays in the opening quarter to eight for the Seminoles.

By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, Florida State seemed to wear down and Florida rolled right into the middle of the national championship conversation.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Florida rattles off 24 straight points against Florida State, turning a close game into a lopsided affair.  (Getty Images)
Florida rattles off 24 straight points against Florida State, turning a close game into a lopsided affair. (Getty Images)

 

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Scoring Summary
FLACaleb Sturgis 39 yd FG
FLACaleb Sturgis 45 yd FG
FLAMike Gillislee 9 yd run (Caleb Sturgis kick)
FSUDustin Hopkins 50 yd FG
FSUNick O'Leary 6 yd pass from EJ Manuel (Dustin Hopkins kick)
FSUEJ Manuel 1 yd run (Dustin Hopkins kick)
FSUDustin Hopkins 53 yd FG
FLACaleb Sturgis 32 yd FG
FLAMike Gillislee 37 yd run (Caleb Sturgis kick)
FLAQuinton Dunbar 14 yd pass from Jeff Driskel (Caleb Sturgis kick)
FLAMatt Jones 32 yd run (Caleb Sturgis kick)
FSUEJ Manuel 22 yd run
 
Team Stats
 FLAFSU
First Downs2120
Third Down Efficiency8-157-13
Fourth Down Efficiency0-10-1
Plays-Net Yards72-39461-300
Rushes-Yds47-24425-112
Passing Yds150188
Kick Return Yds57112
Punt Return Yds5066
Passes16-25-019-36-3
Punts4-1733-124
Fumbles-Lost1-13-2
Penalties-Yds12-1013-20
Time of Poss.36:2023:40
 
Individual Stats
RUSHING
FLA: Mike Gillislee 24-140, Matt Jones 8-81, Trey Burton 1-24, Omarius Hines 2-11, Loucheiz Purifoy 1-8, Jeff Driskel 11--20
FSU: EJ Manuel 12-54, Devonta Freeman 8-37, James Wilder 3-13, Lonnie Pryor 2-8
PASSING
FLA: Jeff Driskel 15-23-147-0, Trey Burton 1-2-3-0
FSU: EJ Manuel 18-33-182-3, Clint Trickett 1-2-6-0, Team 0-1-0-0
RECEIVING
FLA: Jordan Reed 4-54, Quinton Dunbar 4-25, Frankie Hammond 3-26, Mike Gillislee 2-22, Omarius Hines 2-20, Trey Burton 1-3
FSU: Rashad Greene 5-65, Kenny Shaw 5-58, James Wilder 4-31, Rodney Smith 2-7, Devonta Freeman 1-16, Nick O'Leary 1-6, Greg Dent 1-5
 
Standings
TeamStandingsConferenceOverall
Florida1st SEC East1-02-0
Florida State1st Atlantic Coast Atlantic0-02-0