TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Rivalry week has arrived and the Florida State football team returned to work Monday afternoon on the practice field for Saturday’s Sunshine Showdown game against Florida at Doak Campbell Stadium. The nationally televised game (ABC, 3:30 p.m.) will mark the first time the Seminoles and Gators, who have matching 10-1 records, have squared off as top 10 opponents since the 2000 season.
The Seminoles are ranked No. 10 in the AP Poll, No. 5 in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll and No. 10 in this week’s BCS Rankings. The Gators come into the contest ranked No. 6 in both the AP and USA Today polls and No. 4 in the BCS Rankings.
This year’s match-up harkens back to the stretch between 1990 and 2000, when the two teams squared off 13 consecutive times while ranked in the top 10.
FSU coach Jimbo Fisher praised his team’s focus and effort in Saturday’s 41-14 win at Maryland, which clinched the Seminoles’ second ACC Atlantic Division title in three years and a spot in the Dec. 1 Atlantic Coast Conference Championship game in Charlotte, N.C. The ACC office announced Monday that the ‘Noles will face Georgia Tech, after Miami announced it was self-imposing a postseason bowl ban.
Fisher, however, is more concerned about the immediate task at hand.
“We’re playing a great Florida team,” Fisher said at his Monday press conference. “It’s going to be a great challenge. They’re one of the top defensive teams in the country. … They’re very dominant with pass and run defense, great on special teams and they’ve got playmakers on offense. They’re a well-coached football team. Just two teams that are 10-1 -that’s why you come here to Florida State to play and compete in these games.
“It will be a great atmosphere and environment and it will be a great opportunity for our team to grow and have a great season.”
FSU’s 27 seniors will be honored in a pre-game ceremony on the field.
Florida State officials announced a sellout of the game nearly a month ago.
Jenkins announces he will declare for the NFL Draft
Florida State senior defensive end Brandon Jenkins, whose season was cut short by a Lisfranc injury in the season-opening game against Murray State, announced Monday that he will make himself eligible for the 2012 NFL Draft.
“I think it’s time,” Jenkins said Monday evening. “It’s been great. I love FSU. I love everybody. I bleed Garnet and Gold. It was a tough decision (and) I feel like my time has been good, but I will enter the draft.”
Jenkins, who is scheduled to graduate in December with his degree in sociology, could have exercised a medical hardship and returned to play for the Seminoles in 2013. He weighed his options after undergoing season-ending surgery, and after discussing his situation with family and the FSU coaches, made his decision.
“I am very supportive of Brandon’s decision,” Fisher said. “We had a great talk. It is best for him to go and become an NFL football player, which he most definitely will. We were very blessed to have had him here at Florida State. He’s one of the great players in Florida State history, but not only that, he’s one of the great people in Florida State history. He represented our team and our school with great dignity. I wish him nothing but the best and it was a pleasure to be able to coach him.”
Jenkins’ rehabilitation schedule should allow him to participate in all of the pre-draft evaluations.
Hopkins selected as Groza Award finalist, again
Just two days after becoming the all-time FBS scoring leader among kickers, senior Dustin Hopkins was selected as one of three finalists for the 21st Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award, presented to the nation’s top kicker by the Palm Beach Country Sports Commission. It marks the second consecutive year the Houston, Texas native has been tabbed as a finalist for the prestigious award.
Hopkins was named along with Florida’s Caleb Sturgis, who was also a 2011 finalist, and Tulane’s Cairo Santos. He will try and join former Seminoles Sebastian Janikowski, a two-time recipient, and Graham Gano, as the third FSU player to claim the award.
Hopkins has bettered his totals from last season across the board, making 22 of 26 field goals and 56 of 57 extra points. The 22 field goals are the second most in the nation, and his 84.6 percent conversion rate is the second highest among kickers with at least 20 field goals. With three games to play, Hopkins’ 448 career points ranks fourth in FBS history for all-player scoring.
He and the other two finalists will be honored at the Groza Awards Banquet on Tuesday, December 4 at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. They will also attend The Home Depot College Football Awards airing live on ESPN at Disney’s BoardWalk at the Walt Disney World Resort on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m., where the winner will be announced.