Under unique circumstances, Florida and Florida State will renew their fierce in-state rivalry as Mike Norvell and the Seminoles face off against interim coach Greg Knox and the Gators with the stakes including a sixth win for bowl eligibility. Due to the coaching turnover at both schools within the last decade, its not the first time an interim coach has been involved in the Florida-Florida State rivalry, but the lessons from those games -- and the rivalry in general -- suggests there's very little that can be assumed out how the game will play out.
Florida parted ways with Dan Mullen after last week's 24-23 overtime loss at Missouri, a defeat that wrapped the Gators' SEC record for 2021 at 2-6 with four straight losses to FBS opponents. The decline was swift from a 3-1 start that included a narrow two-point loss to Alabama, and now the roster will rally around the heated in-state rivalry for motivation heading into the final game of the regular season.
Florida State, on the other hand, has finished the year stronger than it started. The Seminoles were 3-6 heading into the rivalry game against Miami, but back-to-back wins against the Hurricanes and Boston College have positioned the team to reach the postseason here in Norvell's second year.
Florida vs. Florida State: Need to know
Seminoles surging to close 2021: Florida State has won five of its last seven games, the program's most over a seven-game stretch since 2017. Four straight losses at the start of the season, including an embarrassing late-game breakdown against Jacksonville State, brought an unstable start to Norvell's second season. The course-correction down the stretch combined with promising returns on the recruiting trail have given the Seminoles plenty of momentum heading into the close of the calendar year.
Close calls not frequent in this rivalry: Florida has won the last two games in the series, and for the most part the teams have exchanged winning streaks in recent years. What haven't been common are epic finishes or even close games. Since 2007, only one game in the series has been decided by single-digit points (2014), and each of the last five games in the series have been won by at least16 points.
Game likely to be decided in the red zone: Florida State ranks No. 11 nationally in red zone touchdown percentage on offense and No. 9 nationally in red zone defense. The Seminoles stress defenses with the quarterback run game and win defensively up front, and all of that is bad news for a Florida team that ranks outside the top 40 in both red zone conversions on offense and defense. This game is likely going to be low-scoring, so the teams that are able to turn those scoring opportunities into touchdowns instead of field goals will have a major advantage in the game.
How to watch Florida vs. Florida State live
Date: Saturday, Nov. 27 | Time: 12 p.m. ET
Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium -- Gainesville, Fla.
TV: ESPN | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Florida vs. Florida State prediction, picks
Norvell and the Seminoles have some injury issues that are worth monitoring, but personnel doesn't matter as much to me as motivation. The whole pitch for Florida State has been about building towards the future and those 15 extra bowl practices could do a lot to solidify the gains that have been made this year on the field in Tallahassee. Prediction: Florida State (+2.5)
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