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Gators-Gamecocks pregame notebook: No. 3 Florida aims for sixth straight win

Special to Gatorsports.com
Florida tight end Kyle Pitts turns upfield against Mississippi last Saturday in Oxford, Miss.

No. 3 Florida (1-0) looks for its sixth consecutive win and fourth straight in Southeastern Conference today at noon against one of its former coaches, South Carolina’s Will Muschamp. The Gators have their highest ranking since a two-week stretch at No. 3 in October 2012, which came during Muschamp’s tenure.

KEY MATCHUP

Muschamp surely will try to limit Florida’s “K2K” connection. QB Kyle Trask and TE Kyle Pitts might be the country’s most potent passing combination. Trask threw for 416 yards and six touchdowns at Ole Miss, with 170 yards and four scores going to Pitts.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

•Florida: Linebacker Ventrell Miller was the lone bright spot on a shredded defense. He had a league-leading 15 tackles, including 13 solo, against the Rebels as the Gators gave up 613 yards and 35 points.

•South Carolina: Wide receiver Shi Smith torched Tennessee repeatedly, catching 10 passes for 140 yards and a touchdown. Now he goes against a Florida defense that allowed Ole Miss standout Elijah Moore to haul in 10 passes for 227 yards.

COACHING MATCHUP

Muschamp and Mullen know each other well, going back nearly 15 years as opposing coordinators in the SEC. Mullen is 4-2 all-time against Muschamp. He lost their first two matchups in 2006 and 2007 (Auburn over Florida).

But Mullen has won four in a row since. He topped Muschamp in 2015 (Mississippi State over Auburn), in 2016 (Mississippi State over South Carolina) and the last two years (Florida over South Carolina). Muschamp is 2-6 in this series, going 1-3 against South Carolina as Florida’s head coach (2011-14) and 1-3 against Florida as South Carolina’s head coach (2016-19).

FACTS & FIGURES

South Carolina (0-1) has split the last 10 meetings after winning just four of the previous 30. … The Gators expect to have close to 17,000 fans on hand for their home opener. That’s 20% capacity, with masks mandated and tailgating prohibited. … Series record: Florida leads 28-9-3. …  When Trask threw six TD passes at Ole Miss last week, he joined a select group of Gators quarterbacks to do so in a single game: Doug Johnson (7), Terry Dean (7), Chris Leak (6), Danny Wuerffel (6, twice) and Eric Kresser (6).

THE GAME

When: Noon today

Where: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

TV: ESPN

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

The Associated Press contributed to this report.