TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Dalvin Cook rushed for 153 yards and a touchdown as No. 15 Florida State defeated No. 13 Florida for the fourth straight year 31-13 on Saturday.
Cook’s 17-yard score in the first quarter was his 45th career rushing touchdown, which broke Greg Allen’s 32-year old mark. The junior is also the first FSU running back since Sammie Smith (1986-88) with three straight 100-yard games against Florida.
The Seminoles rushed for 249 yards and averaged 6.2 yards per carry against the nation’s fifth-ranked run defense. Freddie Stevenson had a 27-yard touchdown on his lone carry during the fourth quarter to make it 24-6 and put the game out of reach.
The victory ties the Seminoles’ longest winning streak in the Sunshine State Showdown series. They also won four straight from 1977-80 and 1987-90.
Deondre Francois was 15 of 26 for 138 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown to Travis Rudolph during the third quarter to give the Seminoles a 17-6 lead. Francois also had a 9-yard rushing touchdown late in the fourth quarter for the final score.
Florida took the opening kickoff and drove to the FSU 2, but on fourth-and-goal Appleby was pressured by safety Tre Marshall and threw an incomplete pass intended for Brandon Powell in the end zone.
After driving 75 yards on its opening drive, the Gators could muster just 132 yards the rest of the game. Florida was also 0 of 12 on third-down conversions, and it was the first time since 1980 Florida State has shut out an opponent on third down. Appleby was 19 of 35 for 149 yards. Jordan Scarlett, who had three 100-yard games in his past five, was held to 53 yards.
Florida’s lone touchdown came during the fourth quarter as Marcell Harris recovered a fumbled punt by Auden Tate and returned it 12 yards for a score.
Florida: The Gators are hoping that another bad showing against their in-state rival doesn’t carry through to their remaining two games. Last year they lost to Alabama in the SEC championship game and then were routed by Michigan (41-7) in the Citrus Bowl. With the way Florida’s offense looked on Saturday, it is possible.
Florida State: The Seminoles, who were ranked fourth in the preseason, found their College Football Playoff hopes dashed in early October as they stumbled to a 3-2 start. However they did wrap up the mythical state championship yet again.
The Seminoles are likely to rise a couple spots after beating the Gators. The highest they were ranked after the Oct. 1 loss to North Carolina was 12th going into the Oct. 29 game against Clemson. Florida will fall but is likely to remain ranked going into the SEC championship game.
Florida: The Gators will face top-ranked Alabama for the second straight year in the SEC championship game next Saturday in Atlanta. It is a conference record 12th appearance for Florida in the title game.
Florida State: The Seminoles are bowl eligible for the 35th consecutive season. They could find themselves in the Orange Bowl after Louisville’s loss and if Clemson advances to the College Football Playoff.