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Sunshine Showdown 2023 edition. Previewing the Seminoles vs Gators

Rivalry weekend is upon us as we come to the final week of the regular season of college football. This Saturday, when the fifth-ranked Seminoles take the field against the 5-6 Florida Gators, there will be a lot on the line for both teams in the latest edition of the Sunshine Showdown. For the Seminoles, it will be the first full game with Tate Rodemaker under center after Jordan Travis was injured during the game against North Alabama. They also find themselves ranked fifth in the college football playoffs with two games remaining. For the Gators, they will also be down their starting quarterback as Graham Mertz suffered a fractured collar bone in their game against Missouri. They also need a win to reach the six-win threshold for bowl eligibility and would jump at the chance to do so and take their rivals out of playoff contention.

The quarterbacks will be under the magnifying glass for this game and it will be interesting to see how both respond. For the Seminoles, after the injury to Travis, the team has rallied around Rodemaker and Rodemaker has the confidence of the team. He has a solid arm and can make the throws needed to keep the offense running well. Although more of a pocket passer, he can run when needed. For the Gators, redshirt freshman Max Brown took over for Mertz after the injury and will get the nod to start against the Seminoles. When he got the call after Mertz' injury he did manage to make some throws and create plays with his legs. Advantage - Seminoles. Rodemaker has shown the ability to lead the team and has grown as a player in this program. For the Gators, the game being at home will help, however, this is a rivalry game and the Seminoles still have a lot to play for.

They say games are won and lost in the trenches and this game will be no different. The offensive line for the Seminoles, one of the most experienced in the country will be called upon to protect Rodemaker and continue creating space for Trey Benson and Lawrance Toafili. Center Maurice Smith leads the unit and while Emmanuel D'Mitri and Bless Harris help anchor the line tasked with continuing their level of play that gave up 16 sacks to this point. For the Gators, they will be tasked with protecting Brown after already giving up more than 30 sacks this season. It will be a big task for Micah Mazzccua, Jake Slaughter, and company against a formidable Seminoles defense. Advantage - Seminoles. The Seminoles have veterans and depth along the line to help the offense run well.

The receiving groups for both teams will also play a huge role in the game. While Keon Coleman and Johnny Wilson have gotten most of the headlines, it's been Senior Bowl invitee Jaheim Bell who has been the go-to for the offense when they need a play and yardage. Bell's ability to line up anywhere and create defensive mismatches is unparalleled. Meanwhile, Coleman has made insane catches look routine throughout the season and leads the team with 11 touchdowns. For the Gators, they are led by another Senior Bowl Invitee in Ricky Pearsall who has averaged almost 15 yards per reception. Freshman Eugene Wilson III has developed into a running mate for Pearsall and finds himself leading the team in touchdown receptions. Advantage - Seminoles. Led by the trio of Coleman, Wilson, and Bell the Seminoles receivers have speed, strength, and great hands.

On defense, the Seminoles have stars at every level they have had a major role in leading the Seminoles to an 11-0 record and putting them in contention for the College Football Playoffs. Along the defensive line, Jared Verse and Joshua Farmer have led the charge combining for 11 sacks between them. Verse has also tallied 41 pressures on opposing quarterbacks. The linebackers are hard-hitting and seek out the ball carriers from sideline to sideline. Led by Kalen DeLoach and DJ Lundy, the duo leads the team in tackles with DeLoach adding seven sacks and two forced fumbles as well. Cornerback Jarrian Jones has been a force in the secondary, versatile to rush the passer as well as cover well, leading the team in interceptions. For the Gators, the Princely Umanmielen has led the charge with 43 pressures on the season including a team lead six sacks. Jordan Castell has established his role as a hard-hitting safety leading the team in tackles. Advantage - Seminoles. The Seminoles are 12th in the nation in points allowed while the Gators are second worst in the SEC (ahead of only Vanderbilt) allowing 28 points per game.

Prediction - Seminoles vs Gators - Seminoles win the Sunshine Showdown convincingly. Despite what could be viewed as a trap game before their contest with Louisville for the ACC Championship the Seminoles rally around Tate Rodemaker to win by two touchdowns.


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