October 24, 2009

Florida Preview

Mississippi State welcomes the top-ranked Florida to Starkville on Saturday marking the first time a No. 1 ranked team has visited campus since 1980 when the Bulldogs knocked off Alabama 6-3.

The Gators are the top team in the USA Today Coaches' Poll, BCS Standings and the Harris Interactive Poll.

MSU has fared well when the Gators have visited Scott Field in the past winning the last four meetings and holding a 7-3 edge in the series in Starkville. Florida has been ranked in each of the last three times they have traveled to the Bulldogs campus with the last time coming in 2004 with Mississippi State prevailing 38-31 on a 37-yard touchdown run by Jerious Norwood with 32 seconds remaining.

That loss ultimately cost former Florida head coach Ron Zook his job and was the first signature win for former Bulldog head coach Sylvester Croom.

Florida however holds the overall series advantage with a 32-18-2 record. The Gators won the last game between the two schools 35-9 in 2005 at the Swamp with the Florida defense totaling six sacks, causing three turnovers and recording two safeties.

First-year State head coach Dan Mullen will see plenty of familiar faces on the opposing sideline this week. Mullen spent 2005-08 as the Gators offensive coordinator helping them to two national championship during that span. He has also been on the same staff with Urban Meyer at consecutive coaching stints at Notre Dame, Bowling Green, Utah and Florida.

The Bulldogs are 3-4 on the season and are coming off a 27-6 win over Middle Tennessee on the road last week. Mississippi State picked up 333 yards on offense without turning the ball over and forced the Blue Raiders into four fourth quarter interceptions.

MSU is averaging 390.3 yards (second highest in school history) and 27.4 points per game this season. The Bulldogs have relied heavily on the running game making up for 65-percent of the offense. They have rolled up 1,533 yards on the ground, good enough for 13th nationally and also add another 171.3 yards through the air.

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