Seminoles' senior class on cusp of making history against Gators

Win would give Florida State seniors perfect 8-0 record versus Florida, Miami

Florida State's Dalvin Cook runs for one of his two touchdowns in a 27-2 win at Florida.
Florida State's Dalvin Cook runs for one of his two touchdowns in a 27-2 win at Florida. (Jeff Romance)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State has garnered plenty of accolades since it first fielded a football team in 1947. The Seminoles have won three national championships, two of which ended in perfect seasons, boast three Heisman Memorial Trophy-winning quarterbacks (Charlie Ward, Chris Weinke and Jameis Winston) and have won 15 Atlantic Coast Conference championships.

But the seniors on this year's Florida State team have a chance to make history when the 15th-ranked Seminoles host the 13th-ranked Florida Gators this Saturday at 8 p.m. on Local 10.

A win over the Gators would complete a perfect 8-0 sweep against state rivals Florida and Miami. No other group of Seminoles has accomplished such a feat.

"I think it means a lot to the seniors' legacy here and the foundation that we set," senior cornerback Marquez White told Seminoles.com. "This is my last time playing in this stadium, last home game. This is the way I want to go out. This is the way I want to be remembered, so it means a lot to have this opportunity."

The Seminoles are having historic success against their two biggest rivals.

Florida State is trying to beat Florida for the fourth straight season, which would mark the third time that has happened (1977-80 and 1987-90).

Jimbo Fisher, now in his seventh season as Florida State's head coach, is 12-1 against Miami since taking over for longtime legend Bobby Bowden in 2010. He is the first coach in school history to beat Miami and Florida in three straight seasons.

"It's important to us," Fisher said. "It's part of our goal. We always say that. The state of Florida is a dynamic football state. If you can play with Miami and Florida, you're usually in the national title hunt."

Before Fisher took over, the final years under Bowden were unkind when it came to playing the Gators. Florida won six in a row to conclude the Bowden era, outscoring the Seminoles 202-71.

Senior defensive end DeMarcus Walker, who grew up in the Gator-leaning city of Jacksonville, said he often felt pressured by friends to go to Florida. When he opted for Tallahassee instead of Gainesville, he issued an ultimatum to his Gator friends.

"I told them straight up, you're either with me or you're against me," Walker said.

The Seminoles uncharacteristically lost three games before November, but they've won three in a row and scored 45 points in each of the past two games.

Florida, meanwhile, is headed back to the Southeastern Conference championship game against top-ranked and undefeated Alabama for the second straight year. The Gators punched their ticket with a 16-10 victory at LSU last weekend.

But first they'll need to get past the Seminoles. Florida's lone win under Fisher was a 37-26 fourth-quarter rally in Tallahassee in 2012.

Sophomore running back Jordan Scarlett has three 100-yard games in his past five. The Gators have had five 100-yard rushers against the Seminoles since 2000.

Leading the ground attack for the Seminoles is junior running back Dalvin Cook, who has averaged 163.5 yards per game and 6.5 yards per carry in two meetings against the Gators. Florida's run defense has allowed only one carry of more than 40 yards and only 3.31 yards per carry, which is 13th lowest in the country.

Walker is second in the nation in sacks with 13 and had two sacks in last year's 27-2 win against the Gators, who have allowed the second-least sacks in the SEC (15).

Florida State sophomore cornerback Tarvarus McFadden leads the nation in interceptions with eight, which is tied for the second most in a season in school history behind Terrell Buckley (12 in 1991).

Something has to give Saturday.

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