For a period in the 1990s and early 2000s, it was the annual game in college football that would help decide which team would play of the national championship.
In 2021, the regular season finale between the Florida Gators and FSU Seminoles will help decide…which team will be eligible for a bowl game.
How the might have fallen.
When the ‘Noles and Gators meet Saturday inside Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, it will be the third time in the last four meetings at least one team will have a losing record and the second straight meeting where one program will have an interim head coach.
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Florida’s road to this game has been quite the bumpy one. The Gators started the season with a 3-1 record before losing five of their last seven games (including Saturday’s overtime loss to Missouri) and firing head coach Dan Mullen on Sunday.
FSU, on the flip side, started the season with an 0-4 record that included the program’s first ever loss to a team from the FCS level. Head coach Mike Norvell saved his job by winning five of the next seven games for the ‘Noles, including last Saturday at Boston College.
Despite the glaring fact that the teams have a combined 10-12 record at this point, none of that matters when the Gators and ‘Noles meet.
After last season’s game was taken off the schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida looks for their third straight win over the ‘Noles after having outscored FSU 81-31 in the last two meetings.
The last time Florida entered the game with an interim head coach (in 2017, when they were led by former Miami head coach and now FSU defensive analyst Randy Shannon), the Gators were promptly beat down by the Seminoles 38-22 in the final game for head coach Jimbo Fisher before he bailed.
It’s not No. 1 vs. No. 2, like in 1996. It’s not the “Choke at Doak,” when FSU came back to tie Florida in 1994. It’s not 1997, when Florida upset top ranked FSU and kept the Seminoles from a national title shot in the Orange Bowl.
It’s still the Seminoles and the Gators. For fans of both teams, that might just have to do for the 2021 edition.