It was a classic matchup, Florida State's top-ranked defense against archrival Florida's "Fun & Gun" offense.
And it was No. 5 Florida State's defense that had more fun Saturday, intercepting Doug Johnson three times and holding the Gators to 64 yards and two first downs in the second half in a 23-12 victory.
"They flat-out clobbered us," Florida coach Steve Spurrier said. "Their defense played our offense about as good as anyone has. We squandered our early scoring chances and they came back and dominated us."
Florida State (11-1) went to a three-man rush in many situations, in effect leaving it with seven pass defenders.
"It was tough finding a way to throw with their coverage," Spurrier said. "They have seven DBs and we ran right into them."
Florida, which came into the game averaging 487.7 yards, finished with only 204 yards -- the second fewest yards since Spurrier became coach at his alma mater in 1990. Florida had just 17 yards rushing in 20 tries and was 0-for-13 on third-down conversions.
"The defense has played well since that second game," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said, referring to his club's only loss, 24-7 at North Carolina State. "They have played super."
Florida State, with sophomore quarterback Marcus Outzen making his second collegiate start, scored the final 17 points.
"Not many quarterbacks play Florida the first time and come out successful," said Florida State tailback Travis Minor, who gained 127 yards -- his second consecutive 100-yard showing against the Gators. "Everybody had been doubting him all week, everybody except for himself and us."
Outzen lost two fumbles, one that resulted in a controversial safety, but otherwise enjoyed a good showing in the bigges game of his career. He completed 13 of 22 passes for 167 yards and did not throw an interception.
"I'm still in shock," Outzen said. "I would not trade this for anything."
Outzen took over for Chris Weinke, who had neck surgery after being injured Nov. 7 against Virginia.
| Travis McGriff gets a hug from teammate Darrell Jackson after McGriff scored the Gators' only touchdown of the game. (AP) |
Florida State (11-1) needs two of the three unbeaten teams ahead of it in the BCS standings -- Tennessee, Kansas State and UCLA -- to lose to get a crack at the national championship game Jan. 4 at the Fiesta Bowl.
Two teams Florida State has defeated this season, Miami and Texas A&M, can help the Seminoles. Miami plays UCLA and the Aggies meet undefeated Kansas State in the Big 12 championship. Both games are Dec. 5.
Florida (9-2) is out of contention for a BCS bowl.
Peter Warrick caught a 32-yard touchdown pass and threw for a 46-yard score off a reverse in the second half to spark Florida State's victory.
Outzen threw his first career touchdown pass -- to Warrick -- and Sebastian Janikowski's extra point gave Florida State its first lead, 13-12 less than four minutes into the third quarter.
The Seminoles took a 20-12 lead when Warrick, running to his right on what looked like a reverse, hit Ron Dugans with a 46-yard strike with 13:30 left in the game.
On the previous play, a 48-yard touchdown run by Minor was called back when Warrick was flagged for holding.
Janikowski, who had already kicked field goals from 36 and 42 yards, then added the clincher from 41 yards with 4:31 left.
Outzen's first career touchdown pass, a ball tipped by Florida's Marquand Manuel, was caught by Warrick, who then faked out Gators cornerback Bennie Alexander to complete a 32-yard scoring play.
Florida, capitalizing on two Florida State turnovers and a dozen Seminoles penalties, led 12-6 at halftime.
Florida's only touchdown came less than six minutes into the game when Travis McGriff raced behind defender Tay Cody to hook up with Johnson on a 50-yard pass.
McGriff caught four passes for 100 yards, all in the first half, and became Florida's single-season record holder with 1,357 yards -- breaking a 29-year-old mark of 1,329 set by Carlos Alvarez, now a Tallahassee attorney.
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