GAMEDAY: The Rivalries within the Rivalry

It's rivalry week and this Saturday night when the Florida Gators square off against the Florida State Seminoles in just one of many huge games played nationwide. While the Florida-FSU game is a rivalry of teams, there are individual rivalries that will also heat up Doak Campbell Stadium. Here is a look at a few of the rivalries that are the most personal:

CIATRICK FASON (UF) vs. ERNIE SIMS (FSU): A heavy weight bout if I have ever seen one. Fason and Simms will be a premier match to watch under the Saturday Night Lights. One of the big questions going into this game is whether or not this will be the last game for Ciatrick Fason, the talented junior from Jacksonville. He's a 1000-yard rusher whose draft stock is seriously on the rise, so if he's leaning toward leaving, he will have extra incentive to go out on a winning note.

Standing in the way of Fason's goal will be Sims, the 6-0, 230-pound sophomore linebacker from Tallahassee's North Florida Christian School. Sims has a passion for animals and during the recruiting process claimed he wanted to go to a school with a college of veterinary medicine, which certainly doesn't explain his choice of FSU. Sims has a red-tailed boa constrictor, a few tarantulas, a scorpion and four dogs. He enters the games with 66 tackles, 4.5 sacks and the ability to plug holes quickly.

BRIAN ROSS (FSU) vs. MARCUS THOMAS AND RAY MCDONALD (UF): With starting center/Gator head hoister David Castillo very doubtful, Brian Ross could be called upon to start in place.

"He's the hardest guy to keep off the field that we've got," Bowden said of Castillo. "He's played with more injuries than anybody."

Ross, who covered for Castillo in the final three quarters against NC State, has no other significant experience this year. He spent last year backing up Darnell Dockett. For FSU's running game to go, Ross will have to handle the tackle who plays over the center. If he succeeds, FSU will be able to run the ball. If he fails, Florida could stuff the entire FSU offense.

Thomas and Ray Mac are well aware that they could have a virtual rookie across from them, so they will try to put the heat on him early. Last week, the Gators showed a great knack of shooting the gaps in blitz packages, especially by freshman linebacker Brandon Siler. If Thomas and McDonald can keep Ross occupied, it could open the door for Siler to make life miserable for FSU quarterback Wyatt Sexton.

KYLE JACKSON AND JARVIS HERRING vs. FSU RECEIVERS: Jackson has come on strong at the end of the year, showing why he was such a hot commodity last year on National Signing Day. Jackson has progressed much like Marcus Thomas did last year, slow at first but strong and the end. Thomas had his two best games last year against FSU with a sack and nine tackles and Iowa with seven tackles. Last week against South Carolina, Jackson came up with two crucial interceptions.

Herring had a pick last week. He's fully recovered from an injury so he's good to go. The Florida safeties will be the Gators last line of defense against an FSU team that Coach Ron Zook says throws the deep ball as well and as often as any team in the country.

Chauncey Stovall is a big physical over the top receiver for FSU, and Craphonso Thorpe is a streaky big target who was unable to play in last year's Florida-FSU game because of a broken leg. Dominic Robinson is a third receiver the Noles frequently send over the middle to challenge the safeties.

RON ZOOK (UF) vs. THE WORLD: In his last hurrah at Florida, the Zooker has a chance to go out with a statement win. He's certainly got plenty to prove, and if not for Zebragates One and Two (The Swindle in the Swamp and The Neyland Nightmare) Zook would not be coaching his final regular season game at UF.

A win for Zook would be sweet, particularly on an evening when FSU dedicates a statue of Coach Bobby Bowden and adds the Bobby Bowden Field moniker to Doak Campbell Stadium. A win by the Zooker would be the Gators first in Tallahassee since Kerwin Bell turned the trick for the Gators in 1986. A win over the Noles Saturday night would also put the Gators in the Peach Bowl. A loss could doom them to Shreveport for the Weedwacker.


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