SEC: EJ Manuel

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- It was only last week that Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher lamented the use of computers to help determine the BCS standings and argued his squad's case as one of the best one-loss teams in the country.

With five turnovers in a wild 37-26 loss to rival Florida on Saturday, the Seminoles’ case against the computers was officially deleted.

It’s not that No. 10 Florida State (10-2, 7-1 ACC) shouldn’t be ranked -- it absolutely should -- but the Seminoles proved Saturday that the fourth-ranked Gators (11-1, 7-1 SEC) deserve their spot ahead of FSU, and the program is still not consistent enough to be considered a true national title contender. Florida State’s mistake-laden four quarters were a microcosm of the Seminoles’ entire regular season: an opportunity at something bigger fumbled away.

“There were ample opportunities -- ample opportunities,” Fisher said. “We just didn’t capitalize on them.”

He was talking about the game -- not the season.

[+] EnlargeMike Gillislee
Kevin Liles/US PresswireMike Gillislee's 140 yards (including this 37-yard TD) led Florida's 244-yard assault on the Noles.
Those within Florida State’s locker room after the loss emphasized the team's “24-hour rule,” reminding each other there is still plenty to play for, as the Atlantic Division champs are heading to Charlotte, N.C., to play Georgia Tech in the Dec. 1 Dr Pepper ACC championship game. The Seminoles still have a chance to win the Discover Orange Bowl. The possibility of a 12-2 season is still within reach. It’s going to be hard, though, for some of the players -- and most all of the Noles’ fans -- not to wonder what could have been this season had FSU not lost on the road to NC State and found a way to beat its rivals at home. The Noles were so close to finally meeting preseason expectations, yet so far away.

“That’s just something that’s going to be in the back of your head forever,” defensive tackle Everett Dawkins said. “But we can’t worry about that right now. We just have to keep on moving.”

Just like Florida’s running game.

The Gators controlled the line of scrimmage and ran the ball with ease, racking up 244 yards on the ground. Florida’s success on the ground made quarterback Jeff Driskel look better than usual, as it opened up the play-action and allowed him not to have to execute a true drop-back game. By the fourth quarter, the Gators had scored 24 points in a span of less than nine minutes and Florida State’s usually staunch defense looked gassed.

“We weren’t able to execute,” said Noles receiver Rashad Greene. “That basically sums it all up on one piece right there.”

In what was only its second game of the season against a ranked opponent, Florida State’s mistakes were too much to overcome. It wasn’t the first time this season turnovers plagued the Noles (two against Miami, two against Virginia Tech), but against better competition, FSU couldn’t get away with it.

“We’ve got to have them better prepared and we have to take care of the ball better,” Fisher said. “It was rare -- it wasn’t fumbles, it was interceptions. Something we haven’t done very much.”

It was also an emotional and difficult game for Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel, who threw three interceptions and fumbled the ball, leading to a Florida touchdown.

“It was not one of his most stellar performances,” Fisher said.

Manuel agreed.

“I’ve got to get better these next two games,” he said. “It was tough. This is hard right now.”

While Florida State tries to refocus on the ACC championship game, the Gators left Doak Campbell Stadium believing they should be playing for the national title.

The Seminoles did their part to help the Gators build their résumé.

“We didn’t finish,” Fisher said, “we didn’t finish.”

It was only the second time this season that happened to FSU, but that’s two times too many for a team playing for more.


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Here's a quick look back at No. 4 Florida's 37-26 victory over No. 10 Florida State on Saturday in Doak S. Campbell Stadium:

It was over when: With seven minutes left in the game, Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Quinton Dunbar to put the Gators ahead 30-20. In five plays, the Gators went 32 yards to score -- a short field that was set up by Marcus Roberson's 50-yard punt return. It was a huge special-teams play that put Florida in position to separate itself and gave the Gators the momentum.

Game ball goes to: Florida's defense. It lived up to the billing, as the Gators forced five turnovers, and held Florida State to just 112 rushing yards and well under its season average of 42.91 points per game.

Stat of the game: Florida State turned the ball over five times -- two lost fumbles and three interceptions. Overall, Florida scored 10 points off FSU's turnovers. EJ Manuel's fumble in the fourth quarter led to an immediate score for running back Mike Gillislee, a 37-yard run that put the Gators up 23-20.

What it means: Florida still has an outside shot at playing for the national championship and further stated its case for a BCS bowl. It also snapped a two-game losing streak to coach Jimbo Fisher. For Florida State, it was a squandered opportunity to prove it deserves to be higher in the BCS standings and make an argument against the computers. It also was another letdown for the ACC on a national stage.

Did you know?

November, 23, 2012
11/23/12
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It's time to take a look at SEC stats and notes from the league and ESPN Stats & Information:
  • This is the sixth week this season that the SEC has had seven teams ranked in the AP poll and 15th week since 1999. Since 1992, the SEC has had at least five teams ranked in the AP Top 25 a total of 252 times, an average of 11.95 times per year. Since 1992 (counting 2012), the SEC has had at least five teams ranked for at least 10 weeks in 17 of the last 21 years.
  • In 11 of 42 divisional races (counting 2012), an SEC championship game berth has not been decided until the weekend prior to the SEC championship game. That occurred in 1997 (Tennessee), 1998 (Mississippi State), 2001 (Tennessee and LSU), 2002 (Arkansas), 2003 (Georgia and LSU), 2005 (LSU), 2007 (Tennessee), 2011 (LSU) and 2012 (Western Division).
  • With Vanderbilt’s 41-18 win over Tennessee, the Commodores got their fifth SEC win of the season, equaling school's all-time high (1935: 5-1 SEC record).
  • Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray is now 11th in SEC history with 9,407 career total offensive yards. He needs 170 to move into career top 10.
  • Alabama’s 49-0 win over Western Carolina is its 21st defensive shutout since 1992, the most in the SEC during that time.
  • With South Carolina’s 24-7 win over Wofford, Steve Spurrier collected his 64th win at the helm of the Gamecocks, which ties the school record (with Rex Enright).
  • In 93 home dates, SEC attendance has reached 6,963,067, which is an all-time high for the league. Average attendance is at 74,872 per home game. The conference record for average attendance is 76,844, set in 2008. Average capacity at SEC games is at 96.13 percent with 47 sellouts in the 93 home dates.
  • SEC teams are 44-8 (.846) against nonconference foes, which is second among FBS conferences (Big 12; 25-4, .862). Since 1992, SEC teams are 776-233-2 (.769) against nonconference foes (includes bowl games).
  • The Arkansas-LSU rivalry is the sixth closest in the SEC since 2000, with the average winning margin at 11.33 points per game. Eight of the last 12 games decided by single digits.
  • Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron has completed 69.0 percent of his passes thrown 20 yards or longer this season, including 8 of 9 attempts when targeting freshman wide receiver Amari Cooper. McCarron completed 38.6 percent of such throws last season.
  • Alabama has scored 143 points off turnovers this season, most in the SEC and fifth most in FBS.
  • Alabama averages 6.1 yards per rush on designed running plays this season, the highest in the SEC. The Tide’s season low on such plays was 4.2 against Ole Miss.
  • Auburn quarterback Kiehl Frazier has completed 43.8 percent of his passes on third down this season, the lowest percentage in the SEC.
  • Alabama has allowed 41.9 yards after contact per game this season, the fewest by any AQ school. The Tide have allowed 49.9 yards after the catch per game this season, fewest in the SEC and fourth fewest among AQ schools.
  • Georgia has 37 plays of 30 yards or more this season, the third most in FBS. The Bulldogs had 23 all of last season. The only game that the Bulldogs did not have at least one such play was at South Carolina in their only loss of the season.
  • Murray has completed 74.1 percent of his passes on first down this season, ninth best in FBS (minimum 30 attempts). Murray has 28 completions of 20 yards or more on first down, the second most in FBS.
  • Georgia averages 7.9 yards on first down, the second-highest average in FBS this season.
  • Georgia Tech has 26 rushes that gained 25 yards or more this season, tied for the most in FBS.
  • Georgia Tech passes on 19 percent of its plays this season, fourth-lowest percentage in FBS.
  • Georgia Tech has 12 touchdowns drives that lasted five minutes or longer, tied for the most by a FBS team.
  • Florida State quarterback EJ Manuel has improved his completion percentage on passes thrown 20 yards or longer by 20.2 points this season compared to last. Manuel has been at his best on such passes at home. He has completed over 60 percent of his 20-yard throws at Bobby Bowden Field, including his first career multi-touchdown game in his last home outing against Duke.
  • Last season against Florida, Manuel didn't complete any of his three passes thrown 20 yards or longer. It was one of three games that season in which Manuel did not have any completions on such passes. Manuel has no such games this season.
  • Florida has allowed 10 plays that have gained 25 yards or more, four fewer than any other FBS team. The Gators are the only FBS team that has not allowed a rush that gained 25 yards or more.
  • Florida State has allowed opponents to convert on 25 percent of its third downs this season, the lowest percentage in FBS. No team has completed more than 42 percent of its third downs in a game against the Seminoles or the Gators this season. They are the only two FBS teams to accomplish this feat.
  • Florida has 45 missed tackles this season, the fewest among AQ schools and 11 fewer than any other SEC school. The Gators have only had more than five missed tackles in one game this season (Louisiana-Lafayette).
  • Florida State has 70 missed tackles this season, second fewest in the ACC. The Seminoles also rank second in the ACC in yards after contact given up per game (59.1).
  • Florida State has forced the most three-and-out drives in FBS this season (58).
  • Florida running back Mike Gillislee is averaging 5.1 yards per rush in the second half against AQ opponents this season. Gillislee has had two games (Tennessee, LSU) in which he ran for over 100 yards in the second half alone. He has not been as successful in the first half, during which he averages 3.5 yards per carry and has failed to run for more than 45 yards.
  • LSU has scored 36.6 percent of its points off turnovers this season, the highest percentage in the SEC.
  • LSU has given up 16 plays that gained 25 yards or more this season, the fourth fewest in FBS.
  • Arkansas has gained 1,569 yards after the catch this season, second most in the SEC.
  • Arkansas averages 8.9 yards per play when it does not huddle, the highest average for any AQ school with at least 100 no-huddle plays.
  • Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel has gained 783 of his SEC-leading 1,114 rush yards on scrambles. That is 72 more yards scrambling than Marcus Mariota, Braxton Miller and Collin Klein have combined. Manziel has scrambled for 35 first downs this season, including 20 first downs on third down.
  • Texas A&M has 81 plays that gained 20 yards or more this season, most in FBS. The Aggies and Oregon are the only teams with 30 such passes and rushes.
  • Texas A&M has 13 touchdown drives that lasted at one minute or less, tied for fifth most in FBS. The Aggies had nine such drives all of last season.
  • South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw completed 64.3 percent of his passes thrown 10 yards or longer in South Carolina’s six wins this season against AQ opponents. Shaw threw two touchdowns on such passes in four of the six games. In the Gamecocks’ two losses, Shaw completed less than 30 percent of his 10-yard passes in both games and was unable to find the end zone.
  • Clemson leads FBS with 59 plays that gained at least 25 yards this season. The Tigers have 47 such plays through the air, 10 more than any other FBS team. In their last three games, they have nine pass touchdowns that gained at least 25 yards, including four last Saturday against NC State.
  • Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd is completing 54.1 percent of his passes thrown 20 yards or longer this season. That is an increase of 17.4 percentage points from last season. Boyd has completed at least half of such passes in six straight games, the longest such streak in his career.
  • Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins leads the ACC with 448 yards after the catch this season, despite missing three games.
  • Clemson receiver DeAndre Hopkins leads Clemson in targets, receptions and yards on passes thrown 20 yards or longer this season. He has an ACC-best nine touchdowns on such passes. Last season, he did not have a touchdown on a 20-yard throw.
  • South Carolina has given up 18 plays that gained 25 yards or more this season, tied for seventh fewest in FBS.

GatorNation links: Just win ugly, baby

November, 21, 2012
11/21/12
11:42
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Michael DiRocco writes: Will Muschamp doesn’t care that the wins are ugly, he’s just pleased his team is in the BCS mix with one loss -- and three quality wins.

Roundtable Insider : GatorNation and NoleNation writers address the top issues for Saturday’s game at Florida State.

Video: GatorNation’s Michael DiRocco and NoleNation’s David Hale preview Saturday’s game.

GatorNation links: Matchups vs. Noles

November, 19, 2012
11/19/12
12:20
PM ET
Michael DiRocco and David Hale write Insider: Key matchups stand out in Saturday’s battle when Florida travels to Florida State.

DiRocco Insider: LB Jon Bostic’s interception pushes him closer to the top of the Florida 10 player power rankings.

DiRocco Insider: A few plays stand out as significant for Florida moving forward from its win Saturday over Jacksonville State.

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