No. 10 Florida Gators Chomp Down on Florida State In 40-17 Blowout Win in Sold-Out Swamp

Florida Gators await bowl game destination

ABOVE VIDEO: Florida State finishes the regular season with a 6-6 record after losing 40-17 to Florida. The game was tied at 7 at the end of the first quarter, but the Gators outscored the Seminoles 23-0 in the second quarter to take a 30-7 halftime lead. For FSU, Tamorrion Terry caught seven passes for 131 yards, and Cam Akers ran the ball 17 times for 102 yards and a touchdown.

GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA – Florida Gators cruised to a 40-17 win Saturday night on Senior Night from The Swamp against in-state rival Florida State.

WHAT HAPPENED: Quarterback Kyle Trask passed for 343 yards and three touchdowns, senior wide receivers Freddie Swain and Van Jefferson each hauled in a pair of scores on “Senior Night,” and the eighth-ranked Gators halted a decade of homefield frustration in their rivalry with the Seminoles with a blowout victory Saturday night at sold-out Spurrier/Florida Field.

The win was the first for UF over FSU at the “Swamp” since Tim Tebow’s farewell game in 2009, a run of four straight losses, none of which were very competitive.

Now, after last year’s 41-14 wipeout road win at Tallahassee, the Gators have a two-game winning streak in the series after losing five straight from 2013-17.

Florida offensive players gather around tailback Dameon Pierce after his 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter Saturday night, a score that kicked in a run of 23 straight points for the Gators on the way to their 40-17 victory over the rival Seminoles. (Image by Kelsi Bevington, Florida Gators)

Trask completed 30 of 41 passes and threw touchdown passes of 19 and 23 yards to Swain, and a 13-yarder to Jefferson, who later caught a 6-yard scoring toss from redshirt freshman backup Emory Jones.

Sophomore tailback Dameon Pierce had a 1-yard scoring run and sophomore Evan McPherson kicked a pair of field goals, including a career-best 50-yarder. Both teams scored on their opening drive, but UF used 23 consecutive points bridging the first and second period to open a 30-7 halftime lead, outgaining the Seminoles, 305-95, in total yards through the first 30 minutes.

Of FSU’s 95 yards, 75 came on that first TD drive. After that, the Seminoles gained just 20 yards on 16 plays for an average of 1.25 per snap in the half. Florida State opened the second half by kicking a field goal, but the Gators answered with an 11-play, 75-yard drive, capped by the Trask-to-Jefferson score, to go up 37-10 and coasted home from there.

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Florida finished with 467 yards of total offense to Florida State’s 250, including 102 rushing on 17 carries from standout tailback Cam Akers, who had a 50-yard scoring run in the third quarter. Defensively, the Gators sacked Seminoles quarterback James Blackman and his backups eight times, giving UF a whopping 46 on the season (the team’s most since 1997).

WHAT IT MEANS: The series has taken another one of those turns that rivalries tend to do. Besides that much-craved first home win in the series in a decade (and a second straight win in the series after dropping five in a row), the Gators locked up their first back-to-back 10-win seasons since doing so in 2008-09. Yes, that was also 10 years ago.

With a prime bowl game on the horizon (see below), UF will have a chance to post an 11-win season for only the ninth time in program history and the first time since 2012.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: UF’s 2019 senior class, which took their bows alongside family members and loved ones during a pregame ceremony, capped the program’s first unbeaten home campaign since 2016. Swain and Jefferson had the two TDs each, with fellow wideout Tyrie Cleveland catching four passes for 44 yards. Graduate transfer linebacker Jonathan Greenard had six tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble. Inside linebacker David Reese had six tackles. Good way to go out, class.

STAGGERING STATISTIC: When McPherson kicked his second field goal, a 21-yarder on the first play of the fourth quarter, he gave the Gators their 40-17 lead. During the Seminoles’ 4-game winning streak at Gainesville (2011, ’13, ’15, ’17) under former coaches Will Muschamp, Jim McElwain and interim Randy Shannon, Florida totaled 38 points in the four losses.

UP NEXT: Florida (10-2) will wait for next week’s conference championship games to shake out before learning of its bowl destination the evening of Dec. 8. The Gators remain in contention for a spot in a New Year Six bowl, with an Orange Bowl trip to Miami becoming much more likely due to Auburn’s upset of Alabama earlier in the day. The Cotton Bowl in Dallas is a possibility as well. Maybe even a date in the Citrus Bowl at Orlando against with the third-place Big Ten team. Whatever the case, the Gators will head into the postseason with three straight wins and a chance to keep the Dan Mullen momentum going and rolling into the offseason.