GAINESVILLE, Fla. (CBSMiami) – It’s built up for 364 days a year and Saturday, the Florida State Seminoles will battle in-state rival Florida Gators for a year’s worth of bragging rights in the Sunshine State.
But the big game has lost much of its luster this season as both teams are unranked for the first time since 1986.
It’s been an especially tough season for Florida State which entered 2011 with a top five ranking in most polls. The Gators aren’t much better, having had to rally last week to beat the Furman Paladins last week.
Still, players say the game is still the rivalry to watch this weekend.
“It would make everything better,” Gators quarterback John Brantley said. “That’s the one team that’s always circled on your schedule each year. … For us, it’s always a big game. We always treat it like we’re both undefeated teams. We’re going to give them our best shot; they’re going to give us their best shot.”
The last four games in the series have been lopsided affairs. With Tim Tebow at quarterback, the Gators dominated the Seminoles between 2007 and 2009.
Florida State got a measure of payback last season, the first under Jimbo Fisher, by beating Florida 31-7 in Tallahassee.
This season, it against looks like Florida State has the more talented athletes on the field, especially on the defensive side of the football.
Florida State is ranked seventh nationally in scoring defense, surrendering just 15.9 points per game.
The Seminoles are especially stout against the run, allowing just 84 yards per game, good for third best in the country.
Florida’s defense is also no pushover. The Gators are ranked 18th in the country in total defense, allowing just 318 yards per game, according to cfbstats.com.
The Gators are ranked 24th in the country in scoring defense, giving up 20.5 points per game in 2011.
FSU’s offense has managed to put up 32.6 points per game, according to cfbstats.com, despite playing a schedule that included Big XII power Oklahoma Sooners.
FSU’s offensive struggles are in the running game. The Seminoles are ranked 86th in the country in rushing offense, gaining a paltry 126 yards per game.
The Noles passing offense has picked up the slack, gaining just more than 275 yards per game.
Both teams also love to see the refs throw plenty of laundry on the field. Florida averages eight penalties a game for 61 yards; while Florida State averages eight penalties and 67.8 penalty yards per game, according to cfbstats.com.
The FSU versus Florida game is set for a 7 p.m. kickoff and can be seen on ESPN2.