The Florida Gators (5-5, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) play the penultimate game of their season this Saturday, Nov. 19, when they host the FCS Furman Paladins (6-4, 5-3 Southern Conference) at The Swamp. It's the first meeting between the two teams since 1990, when the Gators cruised to a 27-3 victory.
The Gators fell to the No. 15 South Carolina Gamecocks, 17-12, in their most recent outing, their fifth defeat in their last six games. South Carolina ran 52 times for 215 yards and scored both its touchdowns on the ground, while the Gators managed a single touchdown and two field goals. A matchup against an FCS club like Furman might be what Florida needs to get back on track.
The Paladins lost to the Elon Phoenix, 41-34, in its last game after squandering an early 14-6 lead. Two big fourth-quarter scores--a 55-yard touchdown pass and a 40-yard interception return--put Furman in a 41-27 hole from which it did not recover, though it did score a touchdown in the closing minutes to make the score more respectable.
This game is Florida's last before taking on the rival Florida St. Seminoles on Nov. 26. If the Gators can make quick work of Furman, they ought to have plenty of energy left for the Seminoles' visit.
Notably, the Gators will honor former Jacksonville University fullback Jason Mike, who served as a combat medic in Kuwait and Iraq, as part of UF's "Saluting Those Who Serve" Military Appreciation Week. Mike joined the Army following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and earned a Silver Star in June 2005 for his bravery when insurgents ambushed his convoy earlier that year.