GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida needs to accomplish two things against Furman at Florida Field on Saturday:
• Become bowl eligible.
• Play a lot of young players to get a preview of next season.
Neither should be a problem. The Gators (5-5) haven't lost to an FBS team in the modern era and should have enough of a comfortable lead on the Paladins (6-4) by halftime to enable coach Will Muschamp to play the reserves.
Here's a preview of Saturday's matchup:
The storyline: Other than becoming bowl eligible, the most important thing in Saturday's game is to finish without injuries. Offensive linemen Chaz Green (ankle) and Dan Wenger (ankle), linebacker Lerentee McCray (shoulder) and defensive tackle Leon Orr (shoulder) are either out or questionable, and they really shouldn't play anyway. They need to be healthy for next week's game against rival Florida State. Once the game is in control, it's essential that quarterback John Brantley and running backs Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey sit.
On the spot: Defensive tackle Dominique Easley has struggled with offsides penalties all season, and his jump last week against South Carolina extended the Gamecocks' final drive in a 17-12 loss. Muschamp said the coaching staff had T-shirts made up with "HARD COUNT" written on the front. He also said the staff texts the defensive linemen reminding them not to jump offsides. That hasn't worked too well so far, but maybe Easley will do a better job in the wake of his costly penalty against South Carolina.
Matchup to watch: Furman quarterback Chris Forcier vs. Florida's secondary. Forcier, a UCLA transfer, is the top-rated passer in FCS (180.9 rating) and has thrown for 2,099 yard with 22 touchdowns and six interceptions. Florida's secondary will be without cornerback Marcus Roberson, who will miss the remainder of the season with a neck injury. The group has intercepted only five passes this season (UF has six total). Safety Matt Elam has two. He has been UF's best defender this season.
Gators win if: They play sound football. UF has decided advantages in talent, speed and athleticism.
Gators lose if: They shouldn't lose this game. Even if they turn it over six or seven times they will get their sixth victory.
Stats: Forcier needs one more touchdown pass to break the school's single-season record of 22. That mark is held by former Florida quarterback Ingle Martin. ... In its five victories, Florida has outscored opponents 54-3 in the first quarter. In its five losses, UF has been outscored 31-20 in the first quarter. ... Florida is allowing opponents to convert on third down only 29.4 percent of the time, which ranks fifth in the nation.
Intangible: Florida has the Southeastern Conference's longest active streak of consecutive seasons playing in a bowl game (20). The last time UF didn't play in a bowl game was 1990.
Michael DiRocco covers University of Florida sports for GatorNation. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @ESPNdirocco.