The Sunshine Showdown will take place on Saturday when the Florida Gators take on the Florida State Seminoles at 12:00 ET/11:00 CT on ESPN. This will be the 65th all time meeting between the two schools, with Florida leading the all time series 36-26-2. They didn’t play last season because of the Coronavirus pandemic and both schools playing all conference schedules. It was the first time they didn’t play since 1958.
Usually when these two teams play, there are national championship implications on the line. That won’t be the case this year. Both teams are coming in with records of 5-6 with the winner becoming bowl eligible. The Gators recently moved on from head coach Dan Mullen who was fired on Sunday afternoon after their loss to Missouri. Running backs/special teams coach Greg Knox has taken over as the interim head coach with quarterbacks coach Garrick McGee taking over play calling duties.
This is the third time in the last 10 years that the Gators have gone into the rivalry game with an interim head coach or a coach that has already been fired at the helm. It will also be Mike Norvell’s first time coaching in this heated rivalry. One key storyline for this game is that Gators starting QB Emory Jones injured his ankle at practice on Monday which forced him to miss practice on Tuesday. He did return to practice on Wednesday but because of the injury Anthony Richardson is expected to make his second career start against the Seminoles. He started earlier in the year against Georgia, but struggled to get anything going against the talented Bulldogs defense, throwing two interceptions, one being returned for a touchdown and losing one fumble.
Richardson will be looking to bounce back from that performance against a Florida State defense that features potential All-ACC defensive end Jermaine Johnson. Johnson, a Georgia transfer, leads the team in sacks with 10.5 on the season and is joined by South Carolina transfer Keir Thomas, who has 6.5 sacks on the season. Those two have been one of the best tandems in the country, especially in the 2nd half of the season. For Florida to win, they’re gonna need the offensive line to contain Johnson and Thomas and keep them from getting to Anthony Richardson. If they can do that and stop the Seminoles rushing attack on defense, Florida will be in a great position to win the game.