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Ben Hill Griffin Stadium - Gainesville, FL

No. 11 Florida routs rival FSU 40-17

9 days ago
Associated Press

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida receiver Kadarius Toney stopped in the end zone, struck a pose and pointed to the scoreboard as Florida State players walked by.

He was taunting the rival Seminoles -- at halftime. The game was essentially over at that point, and everyone knew it.

Kyle Trask threw three first-half touchdown passes, including two to Freddie Swain, and the 11th-ranked Gators hammered the Seminoles 40-17 to end a four-game, home losing streak in the series.

"That's bragging rights for your neighbors," said Florida's Dan Mullen, who improved to 6-0 in his coaching career against FSU.

The Gators (10-2, No. 11 CFP) locked up consecutive 10-win seasons for the first time in a decade, finished unbeaten at home for the first time in four years and celebrated their first winning streak against FSU since 2009.

Florida scored touchdowns on four of its first five possessions, needing two fourth-down conversions to get the first two, and was able to start celebrating long before the final seconds ticked off the clock.

"I think it was just a big statement for us," Trask said. "We haven't been getting a whole lot of respect around the country."

Pass-happy and pretty much one-dimensional, Florida picked apart FSU's beleaguered defense -- a rarity in a series that typically features stout defenses.

Trask completed 30 of 41 passes for 343 yards, including two short ones to Swain that went for scores. One of 22 seniors recognized before their home finale, Swain caught a screen pass, waited for a block, split two defenders and sprinted 19 yards to cap the opening drive. He made it 20-7 in the second quarter when he broke a tackle near the sideline, outran one defender and bowled through another at the goal line.

Swain watched the second half from the sideline in street clothes because of a sprained knee. He finished with five receptions for 62 yards.

"He's done a great job," Mullen said. "He's a great leader for us."

Fellow senior Van Jefferson also had two TD catches, one from Trask and another from backup Emory Jones. Another senior, graduate transfer Jon Greenard, had three of Florida's eight sacks.

"It gets you choked up," Greenard said. "It's bittersweet."

The sold-out Swamp was rocking most of the night, and the home crowd got something it hadn't seen since Tim Tebow's senior season in 2009 -- a victory over FSU in Gainesville. The Gators had lost four in a row at home in the series by a combined 85 points.

The stadium was packed until Evan McPherson's field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter. That put Florida up 23 and sent thousands scrambling for the exits.

No one really expected the Seminoles (6-6) to keep it close.

Longtime assistant and interim head coach Odell Haggins had hoped to strengthen his case to replace fired coach Willie Taggart. But the Seminoles showed some of the same issues that plagued Taggart's tenure.

"We didn't perform the way we wanted to, doing the little things right," Haggins said. "I articulated to my team: the lesson we learned tonight is bigger than football by creating great habits throughout your life."

FSU was flagged for being offside after stopping a fourth-down run and was later penalized for illegal formation before the Seminoles recovered a muffed punt. The Gators scored after both miscues.

The 'Noles had a few highlights, but one stood out.

James Blackman threw a backward pass to receiver D.J. Matthews, who ran across the field, eluded two defenders, slipped out of an ankle tackle and then flipped an underhanded pass to Tamorrion Terry for a 25-yard gain that set up a field goal.

THE TAKEAWAY

Florida State: The Seminoles gave up eight sacks and finished with 250 yards, resulting in another lopsided loss in the series. Whoever the next coach is will inherit a program with plenty of deficiencies.

Florida: Mullen stated his team's case to make a New Year's Six bowl. He tried to run up the score late when he called a fake punt on a fourth-and-1 play at his own 19. Punter Tommy Townsend was tackled short of the markers.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Florida should remain in the top 10 of the AP college football poll, especially with Alabama, Minnesota and Michigan all losing.

KEY INJURIES

Florida State: Safety Hamsah Nasirildeen, the team's top tackler, left the field on a cart and with an air cast on his left leg in the second quarter. Nasirildeen notched his 100th tackle of the season before getting hurt. He became the fourth FSU defender since 2000 to accomplish that feat and first defensive back.

Florida: Defensive end and fifth-year senior Jabari Zuniga, one of the team's most disruptive pass-rushers, missed his seventh game of the season. Zuniga should be able to play in Florida's bowl game.

UP NEXT

Florida State: Will play in a bowl game for the 37th time in the last 38 years. The Seminoles failed to become bowl eligible last year and missed the postseason for the first time since 1981.

Florida: Hopes to land a spot in the New Year's Six, likely the Orange or Cotton.