Here are five takeaways from this past weekend’s football action around the state.
Opportunity knocking for Florida as Georgia showdown arrives
Get ready for “cocktail” week in Jacksonville, but Saturday’s annual battle between Georgia and Florida will once again mean more than just an excuse for fans to have a good time.
Still known in the eyes of many as the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, the game will likely once again decide the SEC East and be the biggest college football matchup this week across the nation.
Both teams will be well prepared and rested since each was off last week.
It will be the fourth time since 1999 and the second straight year that each team enters the game ranked in the Top 10, but opportunity looks to really be knocking for Florida with a victory.
Florida enters 4-1 in league play, while Georgia is 3-1, but the schedule really lightens up for the Gators beyond Saturday.
Florida will host Vanderbilt and play at Missouri in its final two league games, while Georgia has to play at Auburn and host Missouri and Texas A&M to finish out its league schedule.
In other words, if Florida wins, Gator fans will likely be drinking cocktails all the way to Atlanta for the SEC championship game.
Minshew wins battle of young QBs
Sam Darnold was selected No. 3 overall by the New York Jets in 2018, while Gardner Minshew was selected by the Jaguars in the sixth round (178th overall) of the 2019 draft, but you wouldn’t have figured that on Sunday.
Minshew thoroughly outplayed Darnold and continued to see his star rise, going 22-for-34 passing for 279 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in Jacksonville’s 29-15 win.
Minshew had a passer rating of 119.6.
On the other hand, Darnold had a passer rating of 73.3 after going 21-of-30 for 218 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Darnold was also sacked eight times.
Hornibrook likely to be man now for Seminoles
For this second time this season, Florida State head coach Willie Taggart decided to start Alex Hornibrook over James Blackman at quarterback, although the big difference this time was that Blackman wasn’t injured.
Taggart decided to give the reins to Hornibrook for Saturday’s game against Syracuse, and he played like he won’t give up the job to Blackman the rest of the season.
A graduate transfer from Wisconsin, Hornibrook efficiently ran the offense in FSU’s 35-17 win.
He finished 15-of-26 for 196 yards and used his feet to create big plays.
Hornibrook has won both of his starts this season.
Owls take care of business, set up showdown
Florida Atlantic played like it wasn’t looking ahead when it took on Old Dominion on Saturday, as the Owls romped past the Monarchs 41-3.
Now, Florida Atlantic can look ahead to its biggest game of the season to date.
Tied with Marshall for second place in the Conference USA East standings with 3-1 league records, Florida Atlantic will play at league-leading Western Kentucky (4-1).
Gierke gets 300th win
For anyone who wants to be a high school football coach and win 300 games, it would take averaging 10 wins a year for 30 straight years to accomplish such a feat.
Given that, it was no doubt a historic night on Friday for Orangewood Christian head coach Bill Gierke, who won his 300th career game as a head coach in Orangewood Christian’s 39-21 win over Deltona Trinity Christian.
Orangewood Christian is just north of Orlando.
Gierke, who has been the head coach at Orangewood Christian since 2011, is 300-112-1 in his 37-year coaching career.