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November 24, 2012

Instant Analysis: State Champions



No. 6 Florida (11-1) won a seesaw battle over No. 10 Florida State (10-2) 37-26 in an instant classic, ending the Seminoles' two-year winning streak and keeping UF's faint title hopes alive with a valiant fourth quarter comeback. Instant Analysis takes a look at how the Gators were victorious in the Sunshine Showdown.

IT WAS OVER WHEN: With Florida State down by 10 points and driving, Gators defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd -- possibly playing in his last UF-FSU game -- sacked E.J. Manuel on second down late in the fourth quarter, a 16-yard loss for FSU. On fourth down two plays later, Floyd nearly sacked Manuel again, but forced an errant deep throw broken up by UF corner Marcus Roberson. The Gators retained possession at their own 44-yard line and eventually scored a dagger touchdown on Matt Jones' 32-yard run.

HE STOLE THE SHOW: Against the nation's top-ranked rushing defense, senior Mike Gillislee gashed the 'Noles for 140 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries. Florida's tailback eclipsed 100 yards for the fifth time in 2012 while also passing the 1,000-yard mark -- a Gators first since 2004 (Ciatrick Fason, 1,267 yards). Gillislee delivered a gutsy effort, rushing for a near career-high mark while laboring through multiple injuries during the physical contest. The Gators rushed for 244 yards against FSU.

THE STAT DOESN'T LIE: Turnovers. FSU: 5, UF: 1. The Gators survived the wild momentum shifts by dominating the game's takeaway margin. FSU's Manuel tossed three interceptions, including a pair on two of his first four attempts of the afternoon. FSU entered the rivalry game with a -1 turnover margin, good for 66th in the nation. The Gators also forced three fumbles, one the Seminoles were able to jump back on.

OH WHAT A PLAY: Trailing 20-16 early through the fourth quarter, Florida freshman linebacker Antonio Morrison leveled Manuel for a one-yard sack, forcing a fumble eventually scooped up by Lerentee McCray. The Gators instantly restole the game's momentum and turned the short deficit into a three-point lead on Gillislee's 37-yard touchdown scamper.

THIS MATCHUP PROVED KEY: Poise. Florida jumped to an early 13-0 lead, but botched multiple trick plays costing the team several scoring opportunities. The Seminoles stormed back with 20 unanswered points to take a 20-13 lead, yet the Gators weathered FSU's third-quarter fury with 24 straight points of their own en route to a 37-26 romp.


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