Brandon Powell is the face of Florida's pending showdown with Florida State.
The senior from Deerfield Beach has never beaten the Seminoles during his time at UF, and this Saturday will be his last chance to do so. It seems like he's let his teammates know it.
After their 36-7 win over UAB on Saturday, two teammates brought him up unprompted.
First was running back Lamical Perine, who said he was just discussing the FSU game with Powell. Then there was center Tyler Jordan, who said basically the same thing.
"We were just talking about that in the locker room," he said. "[Powell's] 0-3 against Florida State. We want to send him out with a win.”
But for Jordan, it's more than just wanting to send him out with a win. He said he's sure of it.
"Beating Florida State’s going to be something we’re going to do," he said.
Defensive tackle Taven Bryan is also sure of it.
"I’m expecting honestly that we’re going to win the next game very solidly," he said. "We’ve just been taking steps and getting better and better. Next week we should have a good solid week and play way better than we did this week.”
Bryan is right. The Gators took steps forward against UAB. They rushed for a season-best 257 yards. They avoided any turnovers. They scored their second-most points of the season. But all of that matters little when the Conference USA opponent was overmatched, despite its winning record. Florida has a chance to take a real step forward this weekend against the Seminoles.
That step forward will probably get them across the finish line, because win or lose, Florida will finish with a losing record. That makes a bowl game unlikely. So it's up to the Gators whether they want to cross in stride or limp on through.
"We just need a couple of more fans in there," Bryan said, "and we’ll get thing loud and we’ll win a game for them."
The official attendance against UAB was 84,649, though there seemed to be far fewer fans in the stands than that number suggests. The team is hoping more fans come out against FSU despite both team having down years.
"That's always going to be one of the pivotal games in college football," Florida coach Randy Shannon said.
His players are hoping that brings fans back for one last game in a season that many of them would like to forget.
“It’s really big," Jordan said. "Our biggest in-state rival. Big game at The Swamp. It’s going to be a fun one. It’s something we’re going to work on all week, because we’re going to be busting our ass all week to get ready for this team.”