Facing an anemic and neutered Florida offense, Florida State needed just enough from all-time leading rusher Dalvin Cook to hold off the Gators. The Seminoles got more than that.
In what was likely his final game at Doak Campbell Stadium, Cook rushed 26 times for 153 yards and a touchdown and caught three passes for 26 yards to lead No. 14 Florida State to a 31-13 win over No. 15 Florida.
Cook’s 17-yard scoring dash in the first quarter gave Florida State a lead it would not relinquish. The teams traded field goals through the next quarter and a half until Deondre Francois found Travis Rudolph for a 46-yard scoring connection to push FSU’s lead to 17-6 at the 5:38 mark of the third quarter. A 27-yard run by fullback Freddie Stevenson pushed the lead to 24-6 early in the fourth quarter.
Marcell Harris provided the lone bright spot for Florida on the night when the defensive back — who led the Gators with 11 tackles — forced a fumble and returned it 12 yards for a touchdown with 10:45 remaining in the game. In the only moment of second-half drama, Florida forced another fumble with more than five minutes remaining, but Florida State turned the ball over on downs, turning the opportunity into an 8-yard Francois rush to put the game away for good with a minute to play.
Francois finished the night hitting 15-of-26 passes for 138 yards with a touchdown and an interception while rushing nine times for 63 yards and a score.
Austin Appleby completed 14-of-29 passes for only 109 yards, and UF mustered just 58 rushing yards on 29 carries.
Florida finished the game 0-for-12 on third down, becoming the first Florida State opponent since Louisville in 1980 to not covert a single third down.
The win allowed Florida State’s seniors to become the first class in program history to go 4-0 against Florida and Miami and pushed Jimbo Fisher to 13-1 all-time against the Seminoles’ Sunshine State rivals.
The win pushed Florida State to 9-3 on the regular season; coupled with Louisville’s loss earlier in the day, the Seminoles are now prime candidates to return to South Florida to play in the Orange Bowl. Florida (8-3, 6-2 SEC) will now prepare to face Alabama in the SEC Championship.