Mississippi State prediction time

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On the three trips I’ve made to Starkville, I’ve seen some strange and pretty unbelievable stuff. What I haven’t seen is a Florida victory.

Scott Field isn’t on anyone’s top 10 list of toughest places to play in college football, but it’s been a nightmare venue for the Gators, who haven’t won there since 1985. They’re 0-4 since then.

I covered three of those losses, two Steve Spurrier-coached teams (1992 and 2000) and one under Ron Zook (2004).

In the 1992 game, Shane Matthews and the Gators got spanked in a big way. Matthews had no time to throw, the offense went nowhere and UF was physically over-matched in a 30-6 loss on a Thursday night.

The strangest game was the 47-35 loss in 2000. That got weird right from the start. MSU won the coin toss, elected to defer, and Florida captain Marquand Manuel elected to kickoff for some reason. That meant the Bulldogs got the ball to start both halves. It went downhill from there. The lowlights included Spurrier punting on third down and tailback Robert Gillespie getting penalized for unsportsmanlike after directing the UF pep band after he scored a touchdown.

The 2004 loss, of course, is what accelerated Zook’s demise at Florida. The Monday after the embarrassing 38-31 defeat, Zook was fired, effective at the end of the season. Earlier in the season, MSU had lost to Maine at Scott Field.

So, given all that I’ve seen at Scott Field, and given Florida’s grim history there, I am very tempted to pull the trigger and predict a Bulldog upset Saturday night. It could happen, definitely.

The Florida offense isn’t scoring many points and the defense has some injury issues in the front seven, a bad thing when you’re facing a tailback as good as Anthony Dixon. And you know Dan Mullen is going to really be helping out his defense in terms of how to stop an offense that he used to coordinate.

MSU had a chance to beat LSU at Scott Field earlier in the season. The Bulldogs will have a chance to beat Florida.

This is a game that will be in doubt going into the fourth quarter. The way the UF offense is playing, it’s probably going to be this way the rest of the season, with the exception of the FIU game.

I’m going with Florida, but it’s a very shaky call.

Prediction: Florida 27, Mississippi State 17

45 COMMENTS

  1. Yep, the odds (and I don’t mean point spread) are certainly stacked against the Gators Saturday night. The Gators have just flat been lousy when playing within the borders of the state of Mississippi for some reason. In addition to the reasons mentioned above in the article, the Gators record of at least one SEC West defeat during the regular season since 1997 remains in tact, and Mississippi State is the last SEC Western division opponent of the regular season. Hopefully things fall the Gators way Saturday night.

  2. The way the Addazio offense has performed, I tend to agree with your assessment. If the Gators don’t get their act together, they could very well lose one on the schedule. Wake up Urban! Make a change….

  3. I believe that Coach Meyer is doing the best that he can with a depleted team. I still believe that a Ron Dayne, 240+ lb, type tailback would make the dive play a little more effective.
    Maybe there’s someone on the roster who played both ways in high school that could be considered. Jerome Brown, from Brooksville Hernando, played a heavy duty tailback and defensive end before going to defensive end only at Miami.

    This team has a lot of heart and plays well at their present level. I guess we can all improve in what we do and I don’t believe that Urban Meyer is finished growing this team.

  4. getting floridas play makers in space should be the priority. why pay the offensive coordinator if he can’t ajust to the flow of the game. moody should get more chances….give the guy a chance. at least 15 touches. Tebow should trust all of his recievers. No dive plays up the middle with little guys. Play with some passion other than Tebow. Roll Tebow out of the pocket more. Wildcat with Demps and Rainey.

  5. I just don’t get the offense this year…is it the play calling, is lack of talent at receiver, lack of blocking up front, lack or check off quick release by TT???????

    As long as the W’s keep growing we will all have to wring our hands in agony to decide how to fix this 6-0 team……

  6. Wasn’t it the 2000 game where MSU had two running backs rush for over 200 yards?

    I remember the 3rds down punt and the sequence that lead to it. The punt was both bitter and hilarious at the same time.

  7. As long as State can hold on to the ball, this should be a good game. Florida is no doubt the better, more talented team, but this will be one that the Dawgs could hang their season on, and they know it. Davis Wade is not the most intimidating place to play, but it will be at it’s loudest Saturday night and the bells will be ringing.

    I’m sure Florida will be well represented, and you’ll all be glad to know you will not be cursed, have things thrown at you, or be assaulted for wearing your colors like you may be at other schools possibly located in Baton Rouge.

    MSU 26 Florida 24

  8. I’m worried the offense is too predictable. I wonder if Urban’s idea is to try and tire out defenses with that constant dive into the line? I agree Moody should get more touches. He seems to hit the holes with a litte more power and that first step seems quicker. While Tebow is indeed a superman, he can’t continue to do it by himself.

    If we don’t give up the big plays on defense, I think we will be OK and MSU.

    Go Gators.

  9. I don’t see it. The Gators have to be reading what the rest of us have been all week, how they are now second class citizens to Alabama and shouldn’t be number one. I think Florida scores early and often and blows this one out.

  10. With all of the focus on the offensive struggles, it’s time for both the defense and special teams to step up with some big plays of their own. If I recall, UF fumbled 4 times against the Hogs, and lost all 4. The Hogs also fumbled a few times, including the opening kick off, and the Gators did not come up with any of those either. The whole team needs to step it up to the level they talked about all summer, but have rarely delivered so far.

  11. we definitely need Addazio to open up his mind and his playbook! even the running backs are tired of the dive play! the touchdown that Demps made last week was supposed to be a dive but he saw a opening and whoop he was gone!

  12. Agree…again! Anything but the dive plays then punt. Coach Meyer, please play with some passion and give the Gator Nation the offense we have come to expect. Tebow can’t win every game using just his legs and lowering his shoulder. You can’t afford getting him hurt trying to come back from a deficit late in the game.

  13. Fans know their teams. They live and breath their success and know the players strengths and weakness pretty well without attending practice. Coaches are sometimes too close to players and coaches and make decisions based on relationships and team chemistry rather than objective football knowledge. That is probably the right thing to do long term.

    Short term it makes the fans look like geniuses. Mullen will embarrass Addazio and keep the streak alive. The pressure is getting to high in Gainesville while the Gators are way to smug.

  14. The gator offense needs to score more and losing Mullen did not help. We should make a change soon and get back to Floria football. I am happy that we are still undefeated but I would like to see the old offense back in action. They should also use Hernandez more. Him and Cooper are great and I also see Thompson getting ready to break out. GO GATORS!

  15. They eliminate the mistakes, fumbles mainly, and there is no discussion at all about Florida’s offense. We slipped by the “trap game” with a win. I’m thinking the Gators roll on from here on out if we can hold on to the damn ball and run a little more option, opposed to so many dive plays. I understand the need to hit the middle but, at least let bigger backs run it up in there and we’ll be fine.

  16. Re the offense – what do you expect when you read that Coach Addazio was once the coach of that TERIFFIC Indiana offense – I don’t recall them beating anyone with the offensive calls. Did anyone else see the blow-up by the U of F center as he turned and fussed at Teabow. Could there be some jealously in the ranks?? Win/loose/draw the ” Gators ” are our team and I say – ” Go Gators “.

  17. From what I have been reading this week, MS State is going to run all over us. With all of our so called strength at Defensive tackle has suddenly turned into a nightmare for the defense.
    .
    Spikes is out, Marsh is out, Trattou is out. and Howard is out. We are sucking wind at that position and if Hunter or Snaders gets hurt you can forget about seeing the football. State is going to cram the ball right down our throats.

    Only was to beat them is to man coverage and stack he box. Dunlap, Cunningham, Green and Lemmens have got to play the best they ever have for us to get by these guys.

  18. I would like see 1 or 2 more option dives with moody. Better ball handling on both sides. Fumbles happen to everyone but get to the ball first. There were 6 or 8 times the ball was on the ground. We did get to any of them. The word of the day should be “FINNISH STRONG ON EVERY DOWN.”

  19. Wow!!! Our comments can’t be abusive, but it looks like your column can!!! Seems like you’ve lost all of your confidence in YOUR home team!! What a negative outlook. I’m totally surprised you predicted a GATOR VICTORY!!!

  20. This guy is Andreu is such an idiot and so is anyone who agrees with him. Yeah, there’s some mystical force in Starkville that manifests itself when Florida comes to town. Or even better, the years that Florida lost there are somehow living in pergatory and could very well come back to haunt them on Saturday. Just forget about statistical laws. Forget about the best D in the nation and arguably Gator history. Forget about Tim “I Will Find a Way To Win” Tebow. Forget about Urban “2 Natties In Three Years” Meyer. Let’s all continue to live in this fantasy land that Andreu lives in where the boogey man is right around the corner waiting to get us.

  21. ohhhh robbie i believe your being generous.the way this offense is acting and reacting. not to mention Addazio’s play calling resembles mullen a few years back which wasn’t that great. i believe the defense will be ready to show the nation it is the best without question but im not so sure with the offensive side of the ball. might be another tebow running 30 times game. but i believe we will pull it out in the end .
    Gators – 17
    MSU – 10

  22. I agree with Travis. Two trap games in a row? I think not. The Gators will begin the steamroll that will take them to Atlanta and beyond. No loss here. MS will score on our depleted defense, but the Gator offense will be wide awake. It will be the Arkansas game without the huge mistakes. Tebow thrives on the hate poured on him at an away game. Moody has a breakout game. James returns one. Tebow gets his rushing TD. Can’t wait.

  23. I was very very close to predicting an Arkansas upset last week because it had all the markings of a trap game. Then I heard all the coaches saying how it WASN’T a trap game because they KNEW how good Arkansas was on offense. Well, it turned out that sure enough, it was a trap game. When I saw them running 175lb Rainey up the middle on dive plays early in that game, I KNEW it was gonna be a long day. For some reason, and I know the coaches know better than I ever will, we have handcuffed our team on the offensive side of the ball. If I didn’t know better I would say we are “coaching scared” so I’m gonna assume that with this coaching staff, there must be a very good reason for it. Plus our D tackle position is decimated. Bad game for that to happen and I think Dixon runs wild. As much as I hate to say it…Miss State in an “upset” 28-24.

  24. This is one of the three games on the schedule that I have been worried about all year, the other two being LSU ( Saturday night game at Death Valley ) and FSU ( throw out the record books when UF/FSU play ). We have traditionally had trouble with both Mississippi teams, whether we play them in The Swamp or on their fields. Not gonna predict a score, but I think the Gators will get another “W” thanks once again to their defense.

  25. All Gator fans should forever be thankfull for Sylvester Crooms: we no longer have to endure Ron Zook!

    Time for the Gatores to wake up. We need an undefeated season. We need another SEC championship. We need another BCS title. We need a 4th Heisman.

  26. Homecoming is ALWAYS a trap game. We made it through, and hopefully learned a few lessons. Starkville always tries to make it uncomfortable for the Gaotrs–hot water “breakdowns” in the hotel, that sort of thing. I am still concerned about the play calling, but I think the level of effort will be there, and we will get through with a win.

  27. We lost both OTs and our top 2 WRs to graduation. We are still developing our run game and our ability to stretch the field. We also face some of the better defensive schemes in the nation. Our coaches need to get a handle on this offensive team soon, and I think we will see that over the next few games. Mostly, I think we need to rise up as a team and smite the pretenders in our path! It’s all about the players, and young guys can be inconsistent. “Turnovers are a cancer and they must be eliminated.”(Tom Coughlin). Go Gators– SMITE STATE! UF 30, MSU 17.

  28. I don’t know what the exact definition of the term “trap-game” is, or if this game would qualify (is any/every loss a trap game when you’re ranked #1?). Regardless, I believe my beloved Gators will stub their toe on this one. The Gators seem to be sleep walking through their schedule and it will take a wake up call to change things. A loss here will spur changes on the sidelines (Addazio and his unimaginative play calling) and motivate the leaders on this team to lead like they have never lead before (Spikes, Tebow, Haden, etc.). I predict a 31-30 loss by the Gators. A loss to a west div team is not catastrophic. Following this loss I predict the Gators will bludgeon the rest of the teams on their schedule in a very cold, business like manner and coast into the NC game.

  29. Heisman Tropy winner, Two time National Champs in the last three years, 50 and 9 under the leadership of the best coach in America.

    What the heck are all the negative comments in this blog!!

    We are 6-0 and ranked number 1 in the country. If we win every game by 1 point then we still move on to the showdown with Alabama.

  30. Robbie, you forgot the strangest and most stupid thing Spurrier ever did in that 2000 game, and he did a lot of stupid things in his coaching career. But he ordered Jesse Palmer I believe, to deliberately take a safety when UF trailed by only 8 points, i.e. one score. After the game Spurrier said he thought thye were behind by 9 at the time. I never liked Spurrier and his ability to manage games, and this one took the cake, b/c the score is posted in bright lights all over the stadium!!!!!

  31. I look for a more dominant game from our awesome D and some improvement from our offense especially in taking care of the ball. MSU does not score big and we convert more in the red zone. We’ll show some signs of coming out of our funk but have yet to take the attititude that our next opponent simply stands in our way.
    Forget about the hype, forget about the spread, it’s just who wants it more. We have the talent, endurance, and heart to make this our first undefeated season ever! We outworked every team in the preseason, stop doubting ourselves, get mad at our opponent, and make it happen.
    We’ll still be undefeated after tonight and the MSU jinx will be broken.

    UF 27 MSU 9

    GO GATORS!!

  32. Apart from the comments expressing naive loyalty, there are some good offensive suggestions…ones that many of us recognize as needed. Rushing small backs up the middle require that they receive the ball from farther back than Tibow’s (option) hands at the line of scrimmage. They need room to find the best opening. Moody and Rainey need to handle the ball more, off tackle. pitch options (with Tibow pitching more), and play action (short) passes. Play action passes for 10-15 yards and first downs are needed until there is a point margin and running game esablished that allows for lower percentage passes. The offensive coordinator appears not to know more than the first page of the playbook. His record is stuck. All of us here can predict the coming play, too often “Tibow left and Tibow right.”

    We have a spread offense. Let’s use the 75% we don’t use.

    Bob Brown
    60 year loyal Gator

  33. Waching game now half time Tibow Can not carry team on his backVERY VERY bad play calling, COME ON TAKE A KNEE WITH 23SEC.left score shoude be 27 to 3 I just can not understand play calling!!!!!!!!!! IT,S HELL TO BE A GATOR IN TARE HEAL COUNTRY.

  34. Does Addazio think screen, swing pass, bubble screen, flare pass are dirty words? Get the ball to your playmakers in space (that’s meyer’s philosophy). IT’S A simple game. I think Meyer needs to take back the play calling from Addazio, who keeps running 165 pound scatbacks on the dive play and refuses to give Tebow an outlet pass when downfield is covered.
    Cattrick