Scores

Final

Florida 7

(7-5, 4-4 SEC)

(22) Florida State 31

(9-3, 6-2 ACC)

Coverage: ABC/ESPN

3:30 PM ET, November 27, 2010

Doak Campbell Stadium, TALLAHASSEE, FL

1 2 3 4 T
FLA 7 0 0 07
#22FSU 3 21 7 031

Top Performers

Passing: C. Ponder (FSU) - 221 YDS, 3 TD

Rushing: J. Reed (FLA) - 13 CAR, 74 YDS

Receiving: R. Smith (FSU) - 4 REC, 79 YDS, 1 TD

Seminoles to play for ACC title after snapping 6-game skid against Gators

Associated Press

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The day could not have gone any better for Florida State.

The 22nd-ranked Seminoles put the brakes on a six-year losing streak against archrival Florida with a 31-7 victory Saturday and moments afterward slipped into next week's Atlantic Coast Conference championship game with a big boost from Maryland.

The Terrapins beat North Carolina State 38-31 to keep the Wolfpack from clinching the ACC's Atlantic division.

"This is just a topping to a great day for us," first-year Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. "What a perfect day for Florida State football."

Fisher's players were already celebrating what turned out to be a relatively easy win over the Gators and the locker room got even noisier when the verdict came in from College Park, Md.

"To find out after beating Florida that you're going to the ACC championship game, that's pretty special," Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder said.

Ponder had already finished his work, throwing for 221 yards and three touchdowns in his final game at home, helping Fisher finish the regular season 9-3. Ponder connected with Rodney Smith (39 yards), Taiwan Easterling (15) and Willie Haulstead (29) on TD passes.

In his first year as a head coach at any level, Fisher and the Seminoles advanced to the ACC title game for the second time and first since 2005, when they upset Virginia Tech. The Noles will play the Hokies again with the winner slated for the Orange Bowl.

Saturday's resounding victory over Florida also gave the 45-year-old Fisher a sweep of in-state rivals. The Seminoles hammered Miami 45-17 last month.

"We're becoming a factor again in this league and a factor again in this state." Fisher said. "That makes us relevant."

The Seminoles (6-2 ACC) put the game away with a 21-point second quarter, getting three touchdowns in just over nine minutes to take a 24-7 halftime lead.

Florida (7-5, 4-4 Southeastern Conference) capped its worst regular season under Urban Meyer with its first loss to FSU since Meyer took over in Gainesville in 2005.

"Obviously we're down," Meyer conceded. "I didn't believe we'd be that far down, but we are."

Meyer's dominance against Florida State was one of the major reasons Bobby Bowden was forced out last season as coach and Fisher promoted from offensive coordinator/coach-in-waiting.

The Gators were awful Saturday, committing four turnovers and scoring only on their opening drive. John Brantley's 21-yard touchdown to Robert Clark was set up by Andre DuBose's 62-yard kickoff return.

Florida had won the last three in the series by an average of 30 points. The Seminoles' 24-point winning margin was its largest over Florida since a 52-17 victory in 1988.

Florida State's 9-3 finish is its best since 2003, the last time the Seminoles beat the Gators.

But things had mostly gone downhill since.

Fisher was elevated to the head coach two days after last year's 37-10 loss in Gainesville, sending the 80-year-old Bowden into retirement at least a year before he wanted.

And while there was no Bowden on Florida State's sideline Saturday, there was also no Tim Tebow for Florida. Tebow had put up prolific performances against Florida State but his successors -- all three of them -- were ineffective with Brantley managing to throw for 52 of Florida's paltry 64 passing yards.

Florida hadn't lost five games in a season since 2004, former coach Ron Zook's last at the school and it was the first time in 10 years as a head coach that Meyer has seen one of his teams lose five times. It was also the second worst beating a Florida team has suffered under Meyer, surpassed only by a 31-6 loss to Alabama earlier this year.

Florida was unable to overcome its mistakes and couldn't get its offense on track, totaling just 276 yards with Jordan Reed's 74 yards on 13 carries leading the way.

The Gators drove deep into Seminoles territory just before half, but the drive ended with 55 seconds left when Florida State's Mike Harris cut in front of the intended receiver for an interception at the 7.

Nothing worked for the Gators, who had three turnovers in the first half and were stopped short on a fake punt.

Meyer gambled on fourth-and-5 from his own 36 early in the second quarter when Chas Henry was tackled a yard short of a first down.

"We didn't coach smart," Meyer said.

Ponder lofted a 39-yard touchdown pass to Smith one play after the unsuccessful fake punt to give Florida State a 17-7 lead, just 81 seconds after, Lonnie Pryor's 9-yard touchdown run gave the Seminoles the lead at 10-7. Dustin Hopkins' 38-yard field goal gave Florida State an early 3-0 lead.

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Team Stat Comparison

 
FLA
FSU
1st Downs1721
Total Yards276333
Passing64221
Rushing212112
Penalties11-795-51
3rd Down Conversions6-128-15
4th Down Conversions0-11-1
Turnovers40
Possession27:0132:59

Passing Leaders

FloridaC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Brantley6/12524.311
Florida StateC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Ponder16/242219.230

Rushing Leaders

FloridaCARYDSAVGTDLG
Reed13745.7016
Rainey11736.6018
Florida StateCARYDSAVGTDLG
Thompson17422.5013
Manuel5275.409

Receiving Leaders

FloridaRECYDSAVGTDLG
Rainey4256.3014
Clark12020.0120
Florida StateRECYDSAVGTDLG
Smith47919.8139
Easterling33511.7115

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERFLAFSU
FG12:38Dustin Hopkins 38 Yd 03
TD10:43Robert Clark 20 Yd Pass From John Brantley (Chas Henry Kick) 73
SECOND QUARTERFLAFSU
TD12:06Lonnie Pryor 9 Yd Run (Dustin Hopkins Kick) 710
TD10:45Rodney Smith 39 Yd Pass From Christian Ponder (Dustin Hopkins Kick) 717
TD02:47Taiwan Easterling 15 Yd Pass From Christian Ponder (Dustin Hopkins Kick) 724
THIRD QUARTERFLAFSU
TD09:19Willie Haulstead 29 Yd Pass From Christian Ponder (Dustin Hopkins Kick) 731

Research Notes

With the win against Florida, Jimbo Fisher clinches the most wins by a 1st-year FSU head coach in the last 50 years and does something that Bobby Bowden didn't - wins his Florida game debut.
  [+]
Florida suffered their 3rd worst defeat to in-state rival Florida State. The 31 points is the most FSU has scored against Florida since 2003, also the last time FSU beat Florida.
  [+]
With Florida State up big at the half against Florida, a few things to keep in mind: -Urban Meyer has never lost to the Seminoles -Each of the last three Florida-FSU games were 27+ point wins by Florida -A Gator loss would give them 5 this year, their most in a season under Urban Meyer -Jimbo Fisher can clinch the best 1st-year record by a FSU head coach in the last 50 years and do something that Bobby Bowden didn't - win his Florida game debut
  [+]

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