TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida State’s regular season is over, though Dalvin Cook was wearing a shirt with his possible destination in two weeks.
The junior was wearing a Heisman Trophy shirt after rushing for 153 yards on 26 carries in the 15th-ranked Seminoles’ 31-13 victory over No. 13 Florida on Saturday night.
When asked about the significance of the shirt, Cook said, “I’m just playing ball.”
What Cook was happier about is he is the first FSU back since Sammie Smith in 1988 to have three straight 100-yard games against the Gators.
“This is the game you put on the calendar at the beginning of the year. You prepare for them and take advantage of the moment,” Cook added about playing in rivalry games.
Cook became the school’s career rushing leader in the Nov. 20 win at Syracuse. He added another mark on Saturday when his 17-yard touchdown was his 45th career rushing score, which broke Greg Allen’s 32-year-old mark.
“You are blessed to coach certain guys in your career and he is one of them,” Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said of Cook.
Cook refused to say if this was his final home game or if he has already decided to declare early for the NFL draft.
The Seminoles (9-3, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference, No. 14 CFP) rushed for 249 yards and averaged 6.2 yards per carry against the nation’s fifth-ranked run defense.
“We were able to control the clock and run the football and pick up third downs and played situational football,” Fisher said.
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.
The Seminoles’ defense also came up big, sacking Austin Appleby six times and holding the Gators to 207 total yards. Appleby was 19 of 35 for 149 yards while Jordan Scarlett, who had three 100-yard games in his past five, was held to 53 yards.
Florida (8-3, 6-2 Southeastern Conference, No. 15 CFP) scored its lone touchdown in the fourth quarter as Marcell Harris recovered a fumbled punt by Auden Tate and returned it 12 yards for a score.
“We had a pretty good plan those first eight plays but we just became stagnant,” Florida coach Jim McElwain said. “Give the defense credit. We couldn’t block up front and we couldn’t protect.”
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 victory ties the Seminoles’ longest winning streak in the Sunshine Showdown series. They also won four straight from 1977-80 and 1987-90.
It also marks the first time in school history that FSU has defeated Miami and Florida in the same season four straight years.
“I am unbeaten against these Florida Gators and the Miami Hurricanes so I can talk (stuff) for the rest of my life no matter what. They have never beaten me,” said defensive end DeMarcus Walker, who had two sacks.
Florida State has not allowed Florida to score an offensive touchdown in nine quarters — a span of 135 minutes, 47 seconds. The Seminoles also didn’t allow the Gators to convert a third-down conversion (0 for 12). It marks the first time since 2004 against North Carolina that FSU has held an opponent without a third-down conversion.
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.
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