TALLAHASSEE, Florida (Ticker) -- Florida State regained a measure of lost pride.
Chris Rix, back in as the starter, threw a pair of touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin and also rushed for 83 yards as the 22nd-ranked Seminoles shook off the turmoil surrounding Adrian McPherson to post a 31-14 victory over No. 11 Florida.
"We finally looked like Florida State," Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden said. "It took us a mighty long time to begin to get the pieces together. It looks like we have the right quarterback in there. It looks like the quarterback has been through a learning process."
McPherson, who replaced Rix after a loss to Notre Dame in October, was dismissed from the team Monday and later arrested on charges involving the theft of a blank check.
Florida State (9-4) avoided becoming the first team to go to a BCS bowl with five losses. The Seminoles won their 10th Atlantic Coast Conference title in 11 years last week despite losing to North Carolina State.
"I can't even describe how I feel from playing to not playing to going out tonight and beating Florida," Rix said. "I've never been happier. I'm just proud of this team and proud of the program. It was starting to get emotional for me on our last drive."
"This was a very satisfying win," Bowden added. "I don't know how long it has been since we needed a win that bad."
Saturday's marked the first time that neither Florida State nor Florida met with neither ranked in the top 10 since 1986.
"He (Rix) took it to another level," first-year Florida coach Ron Zook said. "He was very, very impressive. We couldn't keep him contained."
The Seminoles took a 17-6 halftime lead on Rix's 22-yard TD pass to Boldin with 5:37 remaining in the first half. Rix completed 13-of-29 passes for 194 yards.
Things continued to go bad for Florida (8-4) early in the third quarter as Rex Grossman threw an ill-advised pass from his own end zone that deflected into the hands of Kendyll Pope, who returned the interception 13 yards to make it 24-6 with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.
Grossman tossed a nine-yard TD pass to O.J. Small late in the third quarter, but the Seminoles answered on Rix's 19-yard strike to Boldin early in the final period.
"It's a tough loss, but we've got to learn from it and get ready for the bowl game," Grossman said. "I know we can play better and we will."
True freshman Leon Washington also provided a spark for the Seminoles by rushing for a career-high 134 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries.
"First of all, it all starts with the offensive line," said Washington, who surpassed the 100-yard mark for the first time. "They really opened some holes tonight. It didn't matter who was running the ball with the job they were doing up front."
"We were watching Colorado beat Nebraska yesterday and they played a freshman tailback who gained 137 yards," Bowden said. "Before the game, I told my offensive line about that. I said, 'Wouldn't it be great if we got Leon 137 yards.' Someone said that he got 135. That is probably where we won the game."
After the teams traded field goals in the first quarter, Florida State took the lead for good on Washington's seven-yard TD run six seconds into the second period.
The Gators drove 75 yards in 10 plays to close to 10-6 on Matt Leach's 37-yard field goal with 10:56 to go in the first half.
But Florida State answered with a 10-play, 75-yard march, taking a 17-6 lead on Rix's first TD pass to Boldin, and never looked back.
Zook can feel the pain of former Gators mentor Steve Spurrier, who never beat Florida State in Tallahassee, going 0-5-1.
"We just made too many mental mistakes and it put us in a hole," Florida linebacker Bam Hardmon said. "They hurt us throughout the entire game."
Florida has not won at Doak-Campbell Stadium since 1986 and will need to win a bowl game to keep alive its Southeastern Conference-record string of 12 consecutive nine-win season.