Last night, my alma mater played and lost a football game to the Florida Gators 37-26. Florida did a number of great things, they won the battle at the line of scrimmage and converted third downs at a high rate. When the game got tight, they remained composed and kept playing. They dominated the fourth quarter and were deserving winners of the game.
In truth, another game could have been played, but wasn’t. It would have been a game where Florida State didn’t turn the ball over five times. I offer this not as an excuse, but rather to highlight the devastating impact of turning the ball over.
Florida started the game with a long drive and a field goal. FSU responded with a nice drive, but were undone with an ill-advised interception in the red zone negating a chance to tie or take the lead. Manual’s second interception and Karlos William’s fumble both set the Gators up deep in FSU territory. One of the miscues resulted in points, but both contributed to Florida possessing the ball for a disproportionate share od the first half. This wore down the FSU defense and with so few plays prevented any offensive rhythm.
FSU trailed 13-3 at half and turned it over on their first possession of the second half while on the move. Opporrunity lost. The fifth and final turnover was a Manual fumble that was turned into a back breaking 37 yard touchdown.
The time and score dynamic irreversibly changed with each turnover. The game was literally given away. Turnovers decide games against comparably matched teams more than any other factor.