FSU peaked during the Miami game as the offense could do little wrong in the "other rivalry" for the 'Noles. Since then there has been some struggles mainly because the running game has not been nearly as effective.
Senior quarterback Christian Ponder will have an opportunity for a signature win in his last home game. While it has not been the season that many envisioned for him, he has been solid and has put FSU in position to win. He does not need his best game, but he does need to have a good one for the 'Noles to succeed.
The return of wide receiver Willie Haulstead is expected and he could provide a spark to the passing game. Junior Bert Reed made a few big plays vs. Maryland, can he build on it? Taiwan Easterling and Rodney Smith complete the top 4. Smith is a bit of an "x-factor" in this one, there have been signs that he is ready to take the next step.
Having said the above, the biggest key for FSU offensively is to run the ball effectively. Chris Thompson should be the back who gets the most carries with Ty Jones in reserve. Thompson needs to do what he does---make big plays. Jones needs to run hard inside and get as much yardage as possible. The loss of Jermaine Thomas will be felt here.
The UF defense has not been the problem for the Gators's. It is not as dominant as in years past, but it is still a solid defense. They are giving up just over 20 points per contest in 2010.
The biggest issue has been the pass rush where Duke Lemmens leads the team with just four sacks. They are going to have to do better than that on Saturday if they want to win this game.
The strength of the defense is the secondary and Ponder will need to careful and accurate down the field. FSU has not seen corners as good as UF's and it is likely that they will be up in the face of the wideouts at the line of scrimmage.
Florida State should score some in this game, let's say 24-27 points.
UF offense vs. FSU defense
It has been a tough year for John Brantley. The junior took over for a legend and has not lived up to expectations as the Gator offense has been "choppy" and inconsistent. He has been better recently and FSU will see both Jordan Reed and Trey Burton take some snaps.
UF needs Running Back Jeff Demps to be back, but that is very much up in the air as of now. It is likely that Chris Rainey will see the lion's share of carries and he is a capable big-play weapon. Emmanuel Moody and Mike Gilleslie are the depth, Gilleslie is the more dangerous of the two.
The WR's have taken some heat in Gainesville this season, particularly Deonte Thompson who has struggled with the drops. Thompson does lead the team in catches and yards. Carl Moore, Frankie Hammond, and Omarius Hines are the depth. Andre Debose is the "x-factor", he has big-time ability, but has yet to really show it due to some injuries.
The FSU defense has a "bend but don't break" philosophy with DC Mark Stoops and that has served them well this year. It is not the most talented defense in the country, but it has consistently gotten pressure on the opposing QB.
UF will be the fleetest team that FSU has seen and the main thing that they need to do is stop the big play. UF's offense has not shown the ability to consistently put drives together. FSU excels in red-zone defense which should make it even harder for UF to find the endzone.
We think that UF will need to win the turnover battle and get inspired play from the DL to win this game. UF will hit some plays, but will ultimately come up short on the scoreboard.
Florida State 27, Florida 18