December 12, 2018

Florida Gators
INSIDE SLANT

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  Gators looking to end skid against 'Noles

First-year Florida coach Dan Mullen understands the importance of the Florida-Florida State rivalry.

As an assistant coach at Florida under Urban Meyer, Mullen was part of a staff that won four straight games against the Seminoles from 2005-2008.

"You're talking a lot of neighbors against neighbors," Mullen said. "You go to the grocery store, you want to have bragging rights over your neighbors for the year. To get that win, it gives all of the Gator Nation the bragging rights over all of State's fans."

Mullen will be looking to reverse a different trend when the Gators (8-3) finish the season at rival Florida State. FSU has won five in a row in the series, dating back to 2012. With a win, Florida would remain in contention for a New Year's Day Six Bowl and snap a long skid against its bitter in-state rival.

The Gators also could end FSU's string of 36 straight bowl appearances, the longest in college football history. The Seminoles are 5-6 under first-year coach Willie Taggart.

"That would be great," Mullen said. "I'd love to do it. But that's what rivalry games are all about, right? When you look at this rivalry game, there are not that many Florida State fans that really sit there on the weekend cheering for the Gators. There's probably not a lot of Gator fans cheering for the Seminoles."

Florida has bounced back from a two-game losing streak with back-to-back wins over South Carolina and Idaho. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Feleipe Franks has played better of late with four passing TDs and three rushing TDs over his last two games.

"It's just rivalry week, one of the funniest weeks all season," Franks said. "You circle it on your calendar. You're ready to go play them no matter what each person's record is."

Florida amassed 600 yards of offense in last week's win over Idaho, with 399 yards passing and 201 rushing. The Gators are hoping to maintain that momentum and prove they can achieve similar offensive balance against a Division I opponent.

"If we continue to grow and excel and keep getting better it's going to help our momentum and help us continue to get better," Florida junior receiver Josh Hammond said