GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s five-game losing streak is over. Its miserable season soon will be, too.
The Gators (4-6) have one game remaining in one of the program’s worst campaigns in decades.
Against floundering Florida State (4-6). At home. On “Senior Day.”
A victory Saturday at The Swamp would be the ideal way to send out 20 seniors as well as interim coach Randy Shannon and other assistants.
“It’s sad to come to an end, but we’re definitely going to look forward to it,” receiver Josh Hammond said. “We’re going to cherish this last week and go out and play our tails off.”
The Seminoles are five-point favorites and seemingly have more to play for when the in-state rivals meet for the 60th consecutive year. Florida State has won four in a row in the series, matching its longest winning streak against Florida (1977-80, 1987-90), and needs a victory to get a chance to extend the nation’s longest bowl streak to 36.
The ‘Noles already rescheduled a home game against Louisiana Monroe for next week in hopes of getting six wins and possibly avoiding their first losing season since Bobby Bowden’s first year in 1976.
“I feel like these two programs probably will never have a year like this ever again,” Gators linebacker David Reese said. “We’ll be fine and we’ll get back.”
Florida expects to have a new coach soon, one who will try to revamp an offense that has been mostly dormant since Tim Tebow left school in 2010. It could be Chip Kelly. The Gators traveled to New Hampshire last weekend to meet with Kelly , but returned without a deal.
While the coaching search continues, the Gators are trying to change recent history by beating Florida State for the second time since 2009.
They have nothing to lose in a lost season and would love to end it by knocking the Seminoles out of bowl contention.
“You have to understand what you have at stake and control what you can control,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “It’s Florida State. They’re going to play the same type of game that they would play otherwise because it’s a rivalry, and that’s what this game means.”
Here are some other things to know about the rivals heading into Saturday’s game:
RARE MATCHUP: This will be a rarity for Florida State and Florida. It’s only the second time since the series began in 1958 that both schools have losing records coming into the game. The only other time it happened was 1959, when the Seminoles were 3-5 and the Gators were 3-4-1. Florida won 18-8.
ROAD STREAK: Florida State has won three consecutive games in Gainesville for the first time in school history. The Seminoles have outscored the Gators 85-16 in those meetings. Florida didn’t lead in any of them and only scored in the fourth quarter of each.
FSU VS STATE: The Seminoles are 17-2 against Sunshine State teams since Fisher took over in 2010, but one of the losses came this year against unbeaten Miami.
COMMON ISSUES: Florida State and Florida have struggled all season, especially on offense. The Seminoles rank 109th in total offense, one spot behind the Gators, and are 97th in scoring. Florida is 108th in points. The Seminoles lost quarterback Deondre Francois in the opener. Florida has been ravaged by injuries and has been without nine suspended players, including standout receiver Antonio Callaway and running back Jordan Scarlett, all season.
SENIOR DAY: The Gators will honor a senior class that played for consecutive Southeastern Conference championships and has compiled a 30-19 record, including 20-12 in league play. The outgoing group includes cornerback Duke Dawson, quarterback Luke Del Rio, safety Marcell Harris, receiver Brandon Powell, defensive end Jordan Sherit and safety Nick Washington. Only Dawson and Powell will play in the finale. The others are injured.