The top ranked Florida State Seminoles host the Florida Gators tonight in Tallahassee trying to avoid a season sweep. The Noles are coming off an excellent weekend where they swept a good Georgia Tech team on the road, moving to 14-1 in conference play and a 5 game lead in the division. Head Coach Mike Martin also earned his 1700th victory becoming only the fourth coach in collegiate history to accomplish this. The Florida Gators are currently slumping having lost their last two weekend series and a weekday game to North Florida. There really is no shame in going 2-4 against Ole Miss and LSU but the way they lost is what Florida fans should be upset with. Mental mistakes and lack of simple execution has costs the Gators recently and the Seminoles look to capitalize on that tonight.
Inside a preview of both teams and how they matchup...
As you can see Florida State and Florida are both excellent offensive teams. The Noles rely on their strict plate discipline while the Gators are one of the most powerful teams in the country. The last two weeks have been a different story for one team as the below table shows.
While slugging is still respectable for the Gators what is really hurting them is their inability to walk as they usually do. Now this probably has something to do with the opponents faced but the UF lineup is not as hot as it has been going into the last two meetings. Florida State is hitting the ball over the past two weeks as they have all year and while Virginia Tech has the worst staff in the league the Yellow Jackets are still respectable.
As good as the Noles pitching has been this season it still doesn't matchup to the studs that are littered throughout the staff of the Gators. So far the Noles have not been able to do much against this team scoring only three runs in two games and managing only one extra base hit. The Gators have had success this season against Florida State pitching with six extra base hits and thirteen runs scored. The offensive slump the Gators have been needs to continue for Florida State to have a chance in this game.
The Gators are serious about winning this season series as they are throwing their normal Friday starter in Brian Johnson. He pitched last Thursday against LSU and was roughed up lasting only four innings. Despite his less than stellar numbers this year Johnson is an excellent pitcher who projects as a possible first rounder. Scott Sitz last start against the Gators was actually pretty good as he pitched a then career high five strikeouts going five plus innings giving the Seminoles an excellent chance to win the again. A repeat performance is what the Noles need to be competitive in this game.
As good as the Seminoles have been playing and as poorly as the Gators have been playing you still should go with the team who has the best players. Florida has the best players and should therefore be favored despite the game being in Tallahassee. Unfortunately this game is not televised but will be on ESPN3.
As Always, Go Noles!