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Banged up Florida has stumbled through November with three less-than-impressive wins.
Yet the Gators can build some positive momentum into the SEC title game with a strong showing at The Swamp against rival Florida State.
The Gators (10-1) have lost four of their last five against the Seminoles, including two losses in a row at home. But Florida is coming off a sloppy effort in a 20-14 overtime win against Florida Atlantic. The Gators turned the ball over two times and needed a pass breakup in the end zone by senior defensive back Brian Poole in overtime to secure the win.
"We're a 10-win football team that still has a long way to go in a lot of areas," Florida coach Jim McElwain said.
McElwain is challenging his players to bring better effort and energy. The rival Seminoles could prove just the tonic for that problem. But the biggest key for the Gators will be to contain FSU sophomore running Dalvin Cook, A Heisman trophy candidate, Cook has rushed for 1,475 yards and 16 TDs this season.
"He's a fire breather, he's a glass eater," McElwain said. "He's a difference maker, so some guys in this college football they have "it." That every time they touch "it" they can make "it" happen and hit a home run. I mean this guy has "it." And you know I hope we'll be able to tackle the guy. I mean there haven't been many teams that have."
Florida has won its last three teams against sub-.500 teams Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Florida Atlantic by an average margin of six points. McElwain said his team is going to need to improve in all areas to knock off FSU, but is proud of what the Gators have accomplished so far.
"Part of the key is figuring out how you get wins, even through deficiencies," McElwain said. "I can't say enough about this football team and how they overcame a lot of obstacles.