FINAL: Florida 13, No. 23 Mississippi State 6

Florida wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland (89) fights off a tackle attempt by Mississippi State linebacker Aaron Brule (18) for a first down during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

Live blog of the Florida at No. 23 Mississippi State college football game from Starkville, Miss., on Saturday. The game is airing on ESPN.


Florida starting freshman cornerback Trey Dean was ejected for targeting during a UF punt.

The Bulldogs take a 3-0 lead with 3:28 left in the first quarter on a 34-yard field goal. Jace Christmann’s kick capped a 12-play, 59-yard drive.

What went right: Not much. The Gators got off to a positive start on their first offensive drive, but a big sack quickly put an end to it. The Florida defense was on the field for much of the remainder of the quarter, but the offense did start moving the ball in the closing minutes.

What went wrong: A lot. Penalties really hurt the Gators — and cost them starting cornerback Trey Dean, who was ejected for targeting on a play where he fell on top of the MSU punt returner after he muffed the punt. The Gators also had three false start penalties and a holding penalty, making things tough on themselves. Florida’s offensive line wasn’t the only line that struggled. The Gator defensive front got manhandled at times and allowed the Bulldogs to establish a ball-control ground game that led to a field goal late in the quarter.

Play of the quarter: Florida’s stop on a third-and-two play that forced the Bulldogs to settle for their 34-yard field goal. The MSU play was blown up by a blitz by safety Donovan Stiner.

Trending: Bulldogs seemed to be taking control of both lines of scrimmage, although the Gators were able to get a drive started late in the quarter.

— Robbie Andreu

Note: Gator captains today are linebacker David Reese and tight end/special teamer R.J. Raymond. … UF kicked off to start the game and will receive to start the second half.

Florida            0

Miss. State     3


Freshman kicker Evan McPherson ties the game for the Gators with a 39-yard field goal at the 10:24 mark. The Gators started the 15-play, 68-yard drive from their own 5.

Christmann gives MSU the lead again, this on a 39-yard field goal with 3:30 left in the half. The score capped a 13-play, 67-yard drive.

What went right:  The drive the Gators started late in the first quarter continued into the second and eventually led to a game-tying 39-yard field goal by Evan McPherson. On the drive, Dan Mullen did an excellent job mixing up the play-calling and keeping the offense moving. It featured Lamical Perine and Kadarius Toney lining up once each in the wildcat formation. Toney got the Gators down to the MSU 22 with a 16-yard run.

What went wrong: Yet another false start on a third-and-seven from the MSU led to the Gators having to settle for the field goal. Other than that drive, the offense had little opportunity to produce anything else because the defense could not get Nick Fitzgerald and the MSU offense off the field. After the UF field goal, the Bulldogs went on a long, time-consuming drive that concluded with a 39-yard field goal by Jace Christmann with only 3:30 left in the quarter.

Play of the quarter:  Toney’s 16-yard run out of the wildcat formation that put the Gators in field goal range early in the quarter.

Trending: Despite being out played for much of the half on both lines of scrimmage, the Gators are very much in the game, trailing only 6-3. The offense certainly showed some signs of life late in the first quarter and early in the second. UF was very effective with the quick passing game and getting into the wildcat formation.

— Robbie Andreu

Florida            0    3

Miss. State     3    3


UF took a 10-6 lead with 8:26 left in the third quarter when QB Feleipe Franks threw a backward pass to Kadarius Toney, who threw 20 yards to open tight end Moral Stephens in the end zone. The score capped a six-play, 73-yard drive highlighted by a 22-yard run by Lamical Perine.

What went right: The Gators took the 10-6 lead following a six-play, 73-yard drive and involved some trickery. The UF defense also played well.

What went wrong: Franks was intercepted at midfield on the first drive of the second half when his third-down pass was tipped and then intercepted by Cameron Dantzler of State. The UF defense held and forced a punt.

Play of the quarter: Toney’s scoring pass that gave UF the lead.

Trending: Time of possession for the Gators, who controlled the quarter. Dan Mullen’s play calling has been spot on so far in the second half. It’s sort of neutralized MSU’s pass rush.


Florida            0    3   7

Miss. State     3    3   0


McPherson nailed a 21-yard field goal to put UF up 13-6 with 5:22 left in the game.

Safety Donovan Stiner sacked Nick Fitzgerald on fourth down and 10 from the UF 45.

UF improves to 4-1 overall, 2-1 in the SEC. MSU drops to 3-2, 0-2.

What went right: The Gators continued the control the clock thanks to punter Tommy Townsend pinning the Bulldogs in poor field position and strong work the the UF defense. McPherson again with clutch with his field goal.

What went wrong: Not coming away with more points with the ball inside the MSU five-yard line late in the quarter.

Play of the quarter: Blitzing safety Donovan Stiner sacked Bulldogs quarterback Nick Fitzgerald on fourth down and 10 from the UF 45 to end the game.

Florida            0    3   7   3 — 13

Miss. State     3    3   0   0 —   6


  1. Mississippi State is better prepared, playing more physical, and wants this game more than Florida right now. Florida’s offense, once again, is disorganized and lost. Franks decision making is slow and receivers not running precise routes. Against MSU, our offense looks slow. No excuse for that.

  2. Florida clearly not ready for noise…offensive line not rigged for silent running. MSU has defense off balance, but only managing 6 points so far. If Fitzgerald could throw the ball with reliability, they would have 14 points now. Gators offense must now decide how bad they want this game. Gators defense cannot stop “Tebow light” in Fitzgerald. Gator defense does not know how to play man to man assignment football.

  3. HEY ESPN! The phrase,”lateral move” that you all can’t STOP TALKING about, by definition means ”a side to side move”, an ”equivalent move”, or ”no more, no less.”
    But I am LOOKING EVERYWHERE in that Miss. State, high school looking stadium, and I CAN’T SEE A ”NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP or HEISMAN WINNER” banner, sign, etc.. ANYWHERE!
    So… get a damn clue, Florida has ‘3’ of each! And leave Coach Mullen alone, or look up the word, ”lateral”, ESPN! GO GATORS!

    • Well they think it is a lateral, let them think whatever they want. I dislike that they get to use those cow bells that are totally illegal on the excuse that their stadium is small. Not only for football, but our total athletic program and support around the world is far better and bigger than theirs. So not a lateral move no matter what they might think.

      • vulcan,
        There is no question that the florida program is already established as a premier program, and even in down years is still just that, an elite program in down years. One could argue that it is a lateral move as far as current talent and general level in the SEC (which I think is what they meant), but definately not the program as a whole.

    • Dude, dial it down a bit…MSU is just having some fun with CDM based on what he said when Geoff Collins moved from MSU def coordinataor to UF def coordinator. At the time I guess Mullen was pissed and called Collin’s switch a lateral move. MSU probably doesn’t believe that CDM’s move from their Head Coach to the Head Coach of UF a lateral move; they’re just poking fun at the current situation.

      • Dude, it’s the SEC, don’t you know, ”IT JUST MEANS MORE!”
        I will dial back….when….. mmmm…. well, NEVER!
        And M.S.U. (and their cowbells; now go tip some cows Miss. State Dog fans) will NEVER be ”lateral” to Florida Football, or Florida Basketball, or Florida Gymnastics…
        O.K, I will stop now.
        And Joe, I think you’re right about ”no titles”, maybe baseball, but I’m not sure, or a fan of that sport… unless… FLORIDA is in it. Go Gators!

        • gi, I think they made it to the semi-final of the CWS in the ’80’s when they had Will Clark and Rafael Palmeiro. Their women’s basketball team was runner-up the last two seasons, but that’s all that I’m aware of.

  4. Dan Mullen showing he is not prepared either after not using one of 3 timeouts. Hey coach, unlike careers, they are not recyclable, and you cannot take them home with you. Florida football being exposed by a team that is not making mistakes, not turning the ball over, and biding their time. The quarterback whisperer and offensive guru needs to get to work at halftime.

  5. In theory, we aren’t in too bad a position at the half. We get the 1st possession in a game that looks like it could come down to a big play from special teams and/or a timely turnover. We have repeatedly shown we are capable of both, and I think it’s fair to say that we are above average at both, if anything we are over due at halftime. Hopefully, it’s just a matter of time now.

  6. I’m optimistic about the second half. My cup is half full. Franks hasn’t gotten us beat (yet). Clock is running so we need to make the most of any opportunities. Looks like both teams want to shorten the game. We have a chance to steal this game in a crazy environment. Work ‘em silly Gators!

  7. it shouldn’t matter as Mississippi state isn’t a top tier SEC school, but allowing one school to use anxiety producing noisemakers but not the others is not really the concept behind good rules imo. Players are at their best when not bored or anxious. artificial advantage to create anxiety benefits the lesser program, and in todays game the differences aren’t as great (and strategies like this are no longer needed) as they once were. more thoughts on anxiety later. perhaps it tests the top teams more during the year and helps produce national championships.

  8. did tyrone young suit up today? one minute grimes looks like him, then another guy does. wr screens are good occasionally, TY was great but how about Wes Chandler instead. or Carlos Alvarez, or collinsworth, or PErcy! I like the gators stepping up and just outfighting MSU in the third quarter. lots more work to do though.

  9. Hey, Gatorsports, I know that sometimes opposing opinions, and individuals who want the best for Florida’s football program aren’t welcome, but you just tried to block a 40 year Gator fan. GET OVER YOURSELVES. BITE ME!

    • Keep saying we’re going to lose. Please pick against the Gators every week!!! GO GATORS! GO CDM! Franks gets better each week. D is getting there. The line played better. Special Teams did what was necessary. Bring on the tiggers!

        • GI, there is talent at UF good enough in my opinion to win any matchup we have on schedule. They won’t win pretty. LSU, Vand y, UGA, MO, SC on SEC schedule. If the Gators 🐊 play mistake free, relentless effort football they have a shot in all these. There were a lot of fans saying we were going to lose yesterday. Going forward there are some tough games ahead but as we’ve seen with others that all are beatable. Rules one game at a time. Each opponent is different. Focus on what you can control, play to your strengths, relentless effort, heart and passion, believe in your coach, believe in your teammates, no one is better they may be more successful but work toward surpassing that success. These guys are getting no respect from the media and a lot of fans. some of which are based by the last 9 years. But they are earning my respect (not that they or anyone cares). I hope soon that catches on. Are they great? Not yet maybe never but they can be. For the players if they read this use this as motivation. Take you 3-4* selves and show them what coaching, and relentless effort and desire can do. Gators just because they say you can’t or shouldn’t win doesn’t meant you won’t or can’t win.

          • That, in a nutshell 65, is the character I’ve been looking for and finally saw last night. No, they may not win out — but they will probably play like they can from now on. This was an important turning point. Great post, 65.

  10. all the talk was about cdm, but todd grantham really did the coaching job, particularly at the end. congratulations, go gators. it gets tougher but we are getting tougher. defense pretty much there, its offense that is working on improving.

    • You read it exactly right, Gator1 — not great football yet, but a great win by showing great character as a team. Finally something to build on and sustain. Timing couldn’t be better. I can’t wait for Cody Alan’s wrap up.

  11. Pat and Robbie can’t pick games for nothing! If this team had an offensive line we could do some damage, but Coach Mullen has this team getting better and rolling in the right direction! GO Gators! Bout time pat and Robbie start getting on board before they miss the bus!

    • Notice MSU’s passing game looked like something created by Yellow Teeth and his humonculous, SuckMiser, with receivers running sloppy routes and dropping passes, Fitz standing back there too long…etc… Pat and Robbie can’t let go of their love for McElwain, the “next Steve Spurrier” and will always pick a team that looks as inept and discombobulated as his grotesque creations to win.

    • Hard to criticize the o line after this game. They actually deserve some praise for holding up surprisingly well against a very dominant D line featuring two first rd draft picks. Franks had a 70% completion percentage.

  12. Here’s what I saw– total commitment, effort and heart. What a change. Things didn’t always go well, but we just kept fighting and found a way to win. Mullen and staff did an A+ coaching job and played smart, refusing to beat themselves. I almost had a heart attack with that blitz on 4 and 10, but it was the right call. Just win, baby!!!!!!!!!!!

    • I liked what I saw. We ended up with 347 yards and 20 first downs and ate up clock when we needed to in a close game. I felt it showed a lot and Mullen is more concerned with winning than trying to blow people out. Our guys were TOUGH, and wore MSU out using all the different backs. I give Scarlett a game ball just for that 4th down run where two MSU players were in the hole unblocked and he just willed himself to the first down.

      • I had a gut feeling that this game would be where we actually showed our character, because that needed to happen right now and before we went into LSU week. No, we didn’t put it away more than once when we should have — OK, that happens. But we did come up with stops when we had to, and we did play with more of the old “Gator Gumption” than I have seen before. We are ready for LSU and the rest of our schedule now — not saying we will win out, but saying we will play to win. It is indeed a new day.

        • Yeah. The gumption was great to see. Guys fighting. When something did go wrong there was no head hanging, but we just came back and ran the next play. As much as the false starts were annoying, i was impressed that several times we dug ourselves out of them. The defensive stand after the interception was epic.

          I also loved seeing Franks run out there to the defensive huddle before the 4 and 10 play encouraging the guys. He really has stepped up as a leader.

      • Very happy with the win, Jaws, but I’ll take the blow-out whenever I can get it. Speaking of Scarlett’s 4th down run, I don’t understand why you take the ball out of Pierce’s hands on 3rd down after he’d gotten you 9 yards on 1st and 2nd down. You motion Scarlett into the wildcat, fooling no one, and he had no chance with his high pad level. Glad he converted on 4th down, and it was a great effort, but still think Pierce was on a roll there.

        • Not sure, but glad it worked. I just meant to say Mullen was more interested in winning than just trying to score for the sake of scoring. He didn’t want to run high risk plays that might put MSU back in the game.

  13. Outstanding win on the road and this win goes to the coaching. Fantastic play calling on both sides of the ball. Please give Pierce more opportunities. He looks like the real deal. Should be able to play LSU mano-a-mano at Swamp. Full house next week and noise for our guys. Huge strides made in last two weeks on road.

    • Pierce is a stud and will be a special player. He can break it long like no other running back on the team. However, he still has a lot to learn. He made a few freshman mistakes at the end of the game like running out of bounds and hitting Franks’ arm on the fumble. Luckily they didn’t hurt the Gators. I like the mix Mullen is using with backs. Scarlett is starting to work off the rust. Perine is running hard. Pierce is a homerun threat.

  14. MSU, especially Fitzgerald, played tight and not to lose football. Gators played loose and play to win football. Love the effort put forth by offense, special teams and especially the defense. Dan Mullen has turned the team in the right direction as far as effort. Shawn Davis came in for Trey Dean and played fantastic football. The turnaround on defense since Reese came back has me believing the Gators can be competitive in every remaining game. Go Gators!

  15. In a transition year, an unproven QB, questionable “O” line and back to back W’s on the road? I’ll take it!!! And remember, a couple of big plays was the difference in the UK game…GO GATORS! 8-4 and a bowl game is within sight and it’s only going to get better….

  16. Good win Gators. Are we there, heck no. But Mullen is perfect fit. He has fun with players, rips them when they deserve it and this team buys in more in with every play, every game. Think we will see more 4-5 stars with good character wanting on board with UF. Tough one in the swamp Saturday but Go Gators. South Dakota Gator Fan!

  17. That was a statement victory for the entire team. When we shut down ther qb fake and run, they had little else to show.
    Love our DC after tonight. What a way to finish the game with that blitz! And Franks deserves respect for his performance, especially in the second half. He’s looking like a winner. It’s great to be a Florida Gator!

    • I also loved seeing Franks go out there and get with the defense before the 4th and 10, encouraging the guys. He looked like he had total confidence in them and was just cheering them on. He’s really stepping up. What a difference coaching makes!

  18. Domination. That second half was just a wonder. Once they went up after that great call, I literally stopped worrying. Can’t remember the last time a one score lead on the road in a conference game felt that comfortable. Franks made almost exclusively good decisions. The receivers caught every decent pass and ran hard. The RBs ran with passion and determination. Our kickers are phenomenal and the D simply got better every minute of the game.

    MSU is not going to be a ranked team at the end of the season. But KY is clearly a very good team…which means we are that close. I said after the loss that I thought it might be for the best. I’m convinced now. Still a chance for a special season.

  19. Damn I love me some Dan Mullen. He’s got swagger, and will take a chance if it seems to make sense (HELL YEA ABOUT TIME). Our offensive line is funny…they seem completely discombobulated and helpless in the first half, and then they look 1970s Alabama or 1980s Oklahoma in the 2nd half. These guys will make you pull your hair out, but they ARE FUN TO WATCH!!! Yea when did we say that over the past 6 years..GO GATORS…Thanks DM for making this a fun year so far..

    Nice Pass, Kadarius. Way to play the game cool, Feliepe..

    PS: Dameon Pierce, Lamical Perine, and Jordan Scarlett are Bada$$.

  20. Don’t look now but the Gators are starting to look like a real team. The defense is playing very good. The offense is still a work in progress. The offensive live is still very bad. They still can’t block without holding and can’t open up holes for the backs. However, Franks looked good when he has time to throw. He throws a nice ball and he can throw it deep if the offensive line can ever give him time and not hold. The receivers are also playing well. We need to stop trying to run up the middle. Go wide with cut backs. What I saw in the second half was very encouraging. We were able to move the ball with the short pass to a wide receiver.

  21. We won the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball tonight. O-line is improving tremendously and Franks is managing the game so much better than he ever has. Our D was nasty especially in the second half. Great sack to end the game! IMO Dean was screwed with a bad personal foul targeting penalty. Great trick play call with KT, took the life out of them. Always room for improvement and far from where we need to be to compete for championships but way better than we have been in years. Go Gators!

  22. It all comes down to coaching. The product on the field is night and day better than what we have seen previous years.
    I think with this coach and product we need to build up the seating capacity to 100,000 like Tennessee and LSU. What do you think?

    • I think once we have transitioned — two or three years maybe — the sky just might be the limit and you’ll turn out to be right, Pooky. Some bumps probably in the road between now and then, but we’ll get there! Good post, bud.

  23. I was sceptical about the 4 2 5 defense that tg runs but he has proven me wrong. It works when guys tackle correctly. I’d love to play Kentucky again now we have the front 7 guys….we’re going to be in every game with this defense. Anyone who beats us is going to have to play lights out. Franks is a mentally tough guy. I like him. Some of the thing with this offense is they don’t have to score 50 so your not sure how good they are. Next week will tell us more.i think the offense is above average but once number 27 is more polished I think the offense will look better. He’s got the gift imo. No anxiety.

  24. So proud of the effort tonight and the 2nd half adjustments especially on defense. I don’t think MSU could’ve had more than 35-40 yards after halftime. Thank goodness their receivers suck. The td pass they dropped in the beginning of the 3rd quarter could’ve swung big mo in their favor.
    Go Gators and let’s beat LSU next week

  25. Grantham and the Defense did a great job. Given the losses they’ve had in the secondary, they’ve done a great job in patching things up and just playing great D. The gap integrity compared to last year is just an amazing improvement!

    Franks is looking more and more poised all the time. Obviously Coach Mullen and Johnson are getting through to him. And major props to Lamical Perrine. He is just steady and dependable, with great hands. Scarlett and Pierce also had some very nice runs and Scarlett continues to do a great job with blitz pickups.

    Very good to see Grimes, Jefferson, Hammonds and several TE’s get their numbers called. It’s not an explosive offense yet, but the game planning and playing to the offensive strengths is a huge improvement over the past few years. Go Gators!!!!!

  26. Comcast left me stranded sat evening and i had to listen on the radio! The Gators phone in for the pre, game, and post listening didnt work either! Enjoyed it anyway on the car radio!
    So I told all y’all all week we were going to win and nobody was a believer till friday. This definitly wasnt an upset to anyone who can analyse football teams. I turned 1 grand into more than 3 because everyone was betting all wrong! Remember i dont gamble but I will bet when its clear to me who is going to win. So even though Franks is still making the wrong reads he finally had a game where he maintained drives and carried the team at times. Good for him because it was in a game where the special teams didnt shine elite like they have. We would have been in serious trouble if he hadnt progressed. Without the great special team plays that weve grown accustomed to we didn’t blow them out like I thought we would plus we were playing the refs who werent calling alot of MSU penalties, even the play by play finally commented on it! Hopefully we will soon have a game where all 3 phases really contribute. Defense really showed up, especially in the 2nd half! … Now we know that SC will be another win, with how UK dominated them today. Thats at least 8 wins this year, still not sure about Mo. Signing off from Burger King wifi, heres hoping comcast has their signal fixed by tomorrow!

  27. Just from reading this narrative, it is evident that the Gator’s offensive player of the week was Toney, and the defensive player of the week was Stiner. While these two players shined, it was the Gator team effort on both sides of the ball that won this game (especially the defense, but also the offense). We were fortunate to come away with the “W”, but this does not give justice to what was a great team effort. Sometimes the best wins are the wins that you work hardest for. The low score does not matter, as MSU’s score was even lower. The Gators are looking more balanced than last year. The offense is actually helping the defense out by sustaining a few drives. The Gator defense is beginning to look like our defenses of old, who are legendary. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK AND DO NOT LET A FEW WINS GET TO YOUR HEADS – GO GATORS!!!

  28. I forgot to state that our kicking game (both punting and field goals) were just as important, if not more so, than the offense and defense. We scored 3 of 3 on field goals, which won the game. Our punter penned MSU down more than once, which bought us time and made it much harder for MSU to score. the 2nd half shutout was impressive!