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Florida’s offense, FSU’s defense face challenges in rivalry game

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How in the world can Florida score enough points to beat FSU?

And how in the world can FSU play enough defense to beat Florida?

It’s the old movable object-resistible force debate. The poor Gators struggled mightily on offense — this is hardly fun nor a gun. The Seminoles play chase on defense.

So how can either team win?

You have to give credit to Gators’ coach Jim McElwain, who has found a way to win eight games with the nation’s 102nd ranked offense. Florida is 97th in American in running the ball and 81st in passing yards. Eighty-eight teams have scored more points.

But Florida’s defense (ranked fifth) has given the Gators wiggle-room. So far, Florida has won games with 13 points (Vandy), 16 points (LSU) and 20 points (South Carolina). LSU, for instance, outgained the Gators by 153 yards — but Florida found a way to win.

That will be the test again Saturday as the Gators try to slow running back Dalvin Cook and quarterback Deondre Francois.

FSU has played better defense lately, possibly because the quarterbacks haven’t been the challenge that LaMar Jackson, Deshaun Watson, Mitch Trubinsky, Brad Kaaya and Quinton Flowers were. Of course, Gators’ quarterback Austin Appleby doesn’t figure to pose a pass-them-silly challenge, either.

Like always, Florida will play defense, field position and wait for a break. It’s worked so far.

FSU will push the play a little more with its weapons, but ball control will be vital.

Game time Saturday is 8 p.m.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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