A sluggish offense finally caught up to the University of Florida Saturday night.
The FSU defense made sure that it did.
The Seminoles defense won a muscle contest with Florida Saturday night, giving up only a safety in a 27-2 victory. Dalvin Cook’s two fourth-quarter touchdowns – 15 and 29 yards – made the final score much bigger than the differences between the teams on the field.
Florida had struggled for most of November on offense, barely beating Vandy, South Carolina and FAU. In each game, however, the Gators’ defense was good enough to pull out a victory. For all the criticism, the Gators entered the game 10-1 and champions of the SEC East.
However, the Seminoles were just as good as the Gators on defense. For three quarters, the main difference between the teams was an across-his-body pass by Sean Maguire on fourth-and-goal from the one. Two field goals by Roberto Aguayo helped make it a 13-2 game early in the fourth period. Florida’s Austin Hardin missed one field goal and had another blocked.
That was when Cook, still a borderline Heisman candidate, took over. Cook finished with 183 yards, including 150 in the fourth quarter. Florida’s Kelvin Taylor had 153.
Both Florida and FSU can lament their quarterback situations for seasons that were good-but-not-quite-great. The Gators lost starter Will Grier after he took a prohibited supplement. The Seminoles never really clicked with transfer Everett Golson.
FSU has now won five of the last six games.
Florida plays Alabama on Saturday for the SEC title.
FAU 33, Old Dominion 31: This time, the Florida Atlantic Owls kept victory from slipping away. Barely.
After blowing a 24-3 first-half lead, the Owls came back to win on two field goals by Greg Joseph, who kicked four for the day.
For coach Charlie Partridge’s FAU, it has been a snake-bitten season. It lost in overtime to Tulsa. It was tied at 20 in the third period with Miami. It gave up three defensive touchdowns to Buffalo. It blew a 12-point lead to Rice after an hour-and-a-half lightning delay. It had a chance to upset Middle Tennessee but lost the ball on downs on its last possession. It lost to Florida in overtime.
For a while, it seemed as if the Owls were due for another one of those days. Old Dominion came back from a 24-3 deficit and took a 33-27 lead at the end of the third period.
FAU replaced starting quarterback Jaquez Johnson, who had two interceptions, with Jason Driskel.
Old Dominion’s Shuler Bentley threw for 287 yards and three touchdowns, but the Monarchs gained only 38 yards rushing.
For FAU, Jay Warren ran for 150 yards. Zach Paschal caught eight balls for 163 yards and three scores.