CFN Analysis: Florida 37, Florida State 26
Posted Nov 24, 2012

The CFN Instant Analysis of Florida's statement win over Florida State.

E-mail Pete Fiutak
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- Florida might not be all that exciting, and the offense might not be a thrill ride, but now the résumé includes road wins over Texas A&M and the likely ACC champion, Florida State, to go along with wins over South Carolina and LSU. That's not bad.

- Everything was going Florida State's way. The momentum had totally shifted over after a rocky start with 24 straight fourth quarter points. The Gators didn't panic and they didn't do anything crazy. They let the offensive line work and the big plays started to pop open.

- The defense coming up with five takeaways didn't hurt, either.

- It's going to be lost in the defeat, but the FSU ends were dominant. Cornellius Carradine made 11 tackles, half a sack and 3.5 tackles for loss, and Bjoern Werner made six tackles, 3.5 sacks and recovered a fumble. The Florida offensive line ended up dominating late, but the FSU line won its share of battles.

- I still think E.J. Manuel has a future as a solid NFL quarterback. He might have had a rough day, but he led the team in rushing and he occasionally came up with a few throws that few pro types are able to make.

- Florida State came into the game No. 1 in the nation in run defense and No. 1 in total defense, allowing 71 yards on the ground and 236 total yards per game. Florida ran for 244 yards and finished with 394 total yards.

- Georgia blows away Georgia Tech and Florida rolls by Florida State. Good luck with that whole ACC championship thing.

Richard Cirminiello

EJ Manuel is not a big-time quarterback. Never has been. Maybe never will be. He played a terrific D today, but you just can't turn the ball over four times as a senior in a game of such importance to the program. It's these types of settings that produce champions. Manuel didn't play like that guy this afternoon.

Every SEC hater in the country—and there are plenty—will be rooting for Notre Dame this evening … for rather obvious reasons.

Florida just completed one of the strangest regular seasons in recent memory. Beat Texas A&M, LSU, South Carolina and Florida State. Yet, labored to put away Bowling Green, Missouri, Louisiana-Lafayette and Jacksonville State. Go figure.

Computer models are mocking and wagging their fingers at Jimbo Fisher right now.

Games are won in the fourth quarter. No one in college football exemplifies that thought better than Florida this season. Florida is a shining example of a well-coached, well-conditioned team, particularly on defense.

Florida DT Sharrif Floyd has quietly had a terrific season in Gainesville, highlighted by his play on Saturday. He's going to make some NFL team very happy.

Rough day for the ACC so far, with losses by Florida State, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest to SEC opponents. League pinning its hopes on Clemson, which is hosting South Carolina.

Nice to see Mike Gillislee finally get some support, like he did earlier in the year. He's a lot better than he's looked lately, though rarely gets enough help from his line or his passing attack.

Why doesn't Florida State use James Wilder more? It seems that he's bringing the crowd to its feet—and defenders off theirs—every other time he touches the ball. Yet, he only got four carries versus the Gators.

Florida is Notre Dame South. It isn't always pretty, but somehow, some way, this team just keeps finding a way for Will Muschamp.

By Matt Zemek
E-mail Matt Zemek

There's a team that has worked its way to the top tier of college football in 2012. It's a team whose defense has been relentless, whose offense often looks like it can't tie its shoelaces at times, whose scares against third- or fourth-tier foes make you wonder how it has avoided so many landmines over the course of three months. This team has wobbled, staggered, and looked like a 6-6 or 7-5 outfit on many occasions. Yet, at the end of the day, it has as much of a claim to playing for the national championship as anyone else, if not more so.

That team is the Notre Dame Fighting… Gators.

Yes, "that team" is really two teams. Notre Dame and Florida are one and the same, and on Saturday, it was Florida's turn to answer the call and win a tough game against a big-name opponent on the road by making fewer mistakes. Much as Notre Dame ran away from Oklahoma in the final 10 minutes of regulation thanks to a shaky quarterback (Everett Golson) who became airtight when it mattered most, Florida also sped out of Florida State's reach because Jeff Driskel avoided the big mistake, produced a handful of very impressive game-changing throws under pressure, and did not lose heart when Florida State gained a 20-13 second-half lead.

Beyond the quarterback spot, Florida – like Notre Dame – has received contributions from so many different players in times of need. Mike Gillislee produced the go-ahead touchdown that consolidated momentum and prevented Driskel from having to carry too much of the workload. The Gators' defense took advantage of every opportunity to snare a turnover from wayward Florida State signal caller E.J. Manuel, authoring a narrative in which the Seminoles' fifth-year senior quarterback – playing at home –looked like the less composed quarterback when compared to the less experienced Driskel, who was playing on the road.

The Florida Irish. The Notre Dame Gators. Have trouble telling the two teams apart? Again, they're one and the same. Forget style points – Florida has, like Notre Dame, earned its place in the BCS discussion, no matter what you might think about the team's artistry or its close shave against Louisiana-Lafayette.

By Phil Harrison
Follow me @PhilHarrisonCFN

- Florida can now sit back and root, root, root for the home team in Southern California to turn the Irish upside down. If it happens, it'll be mighty interesting to see if we get back-to-back SEC matchups in the BCS National title game. It'd be another scenario where an SEC team that didn't even win its division gets a shot at all the marbles.

- Speaking of which, does anyone really believe that this Gators team is the second best team in the country? Whether they are or not hardly matters because this Florida squad has finished the season in a tough conference at a 11-1 mark.

- Will Jimbo Fisher ever resurrect the Seminole program back to the peak of the Bobby Bowden era? Big games have not been kind to FSU lately.

- Florida State liveth by EJ Manuel and it dieth by EJ Manuel. The spear absorbed a slow, painful death via the talented senior QB who has simply not been able to put consistent seasons together. Three INTs and a fumble later in this one...

- Oh ACC, you had a shot to put on your best polish and shine today. Instead, two flops against the SEC and it's time to buy a new outfit. The SEC continues its dominance while the ACC's ego continues to be battered and bruised.

- Remember when folks wanted to blame Urban Meyer for the dearth of talent in Gainesville--as if the cupboard was left bare? Oscar "Meyer" bologna. There are many top-tier recruiting classes still running around under Will Muschamp's tutelage. You can't say Florida has talent this year and then rail on Meyer at the same time.

- What is it they say about the team that makes the least amount of mistakes generally winning these rivalry-games. Yeah, it was on full display today.