TALLAHASSEE, FLA. (AP) - First year Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher can do something predecessor Bobby Bowden never did: Defeat an Urban Meyer-coached University of Florida team.
Meyer is 5-0 against the Seminoles, who got their last win at Florida in 2003 when Ron Zook was still in charge.
And now it’s Florida State with Fisher walking the sidelines instead of Bowden, who was nudged into retirement last year just two days after a sixth straight loss to Florida and being outscored 127-37 in the last three games.
“I think we’ve gotten much better,” Fisher said Monday, cautioning that he believes the unranked Gators are still an elite team despite their four losses. “They’re still a very, very talented football team.”
But they don’t have Tim Tebow, who shredded Florida State defenses the last three games with his running and passing.
“Tim was one of the great players in college football history,” Fisher said. “Not only for his physical play, but the impact he had on his teammates.”
But this time around it’s Florida State (8-3, 6-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) with the season quarterback in third-year starter Christian Ponder.
“Every team is different,” Fisher said. “The chemistry of people is the key to the whole thing.”
Meyer seemed to agree with that assessment.
“It’s all team to team,” Meyer said Monday at a Gainesville news conference. “We obviously are not executing at a very high level. We’ve got a bunch of young guys, so there might be more emphasis on the rivalry than maybe the last two years.”
Meyer’s comments notwithstanding, Ponder isn’t buying talk that the Gators are down despite their record.
“I’m sort of expecting them to play like a top five team,” Ponder said Monday.
If nothing else, a win Saturday would give the 22nd-ranked Seminoles the mythical state championship and bragging rights during the final weeks of recruiting season. Florida State defeated Miami 45-17 last month.
“It would be pretty big for us, but it’s not going to be easy,” Ponder said. “That’s one of our goals.”
Florida State hasn’t beat the Gators since 2003 on Chris Rix’ last-minute 52-yard touchdown pass to P.K. Sam.