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Sunshine Showdown review: Seminoles beat Gators 24-15 to remain unbeaten.



Rivalry weekend always seems to bring memorable games where records and previous performances tend to go out the window. On Saturday, the fifth-ranked Seminoles looked to remain unbeaten and continue their winning ways in the first game after Jordan Travis' injury with Tate Rodemaker under center. The Gators were without their starting quarterback Graham Mertz, and had freshman Max Brown making his first start. So what would happen in the 2023 edition of the Sunshine Showdown between these two rivals? Let's find out.



The biggest question heading into the game was how the quarterbacks would be stepping into the starting role after injuries to the team's respective starters. For the Seminoles, they turned to Rodemaker who had filled in last season when Travis had to miss time. For the Gators, they turned to Brown. On paper, Rodemaker had the experience advantage while Brown was the unknown commodity. Rodemaker struggled with the timing of his throws, finishing with 134 yards on 12 of 25 passing. While he did find a rhythm as the game went on, inconsistency on his throws was a theme throughout the game. Similar to the Seminoles, Brown had his own struggles with the Gators. Finishing with 86 yards on 9 of 16 passing, Brown threw the game's only interception late in the game. Matchup winner - Toss up. Neither quarterback was sharp in the game but both quarterbacks showed promise and that they would get better.


With the struggles of the quarterbacks, the running backs for both teams stepped up in a big way. For the Seminoles, Trey Benson took over. He finished with 95 yards and three touchdowns on the day and when the Seminoles needed the yards, Benson answered the call. For the Gators, Montrell Johnson Jr had a day. He finished with 107 yards on 18 carries and the lone touchdown for the Gators offense. The matchup winner - Seminoles. Trey Benson was a force running with his trademark power and using his speed to separate and find the endzone.


The 'Defense' was the name of the game for both teams. The Seminoles relied on their defense and were led by Jared Verse and Patrick Payton, the Seminoles held the Gators to 232 total yards. Verse and Payton lived in the backfield with each recording two sacks. When Verse wasn't getting the sack, he was pressuring Brown in the backfield regularly. Akeem Dent and Shyheim Brown were tackling machines in the Seminoles secondary. Recording 15 tackles between them, they both played like heat seekers when it came to getting to the ball carriers. For the Gators, Derek Wingo and Jason Marshall Jr led the way with nine tackles and 2.5 sacks between them. Marshall also added three pass deflections on the day. Matchup winner - Seminoles. While both teams minimized the aerial attack, the defense for the Seminoles seemed to live in the backfield and pressured Brown all game.



'Seminoles beat Gators' and overall, the game was sloppy for both teams which is understandable with the new quarterbacks. The Seminoles were the better team and found a way to win the game and keep their College Football Playoff aspirations alive. For the Gators, although they didn't get the win at home, Brown did show a lot of potential as he handled himself well in the game. While this game won't be enough for the voters, the Seminoles did get the win and won their 18th game in a row. Next up for the Seminoles, is a clash with 10-2 Louisville for the ACC Championship. The Gators fall to 5-7 and will miss out on a bowl game for the first time since 2017.

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