Mississippi State Tops No. 22 Florida, 10-7

Florida welcomes Mississippi State to the Swamp tonight. Can the Gators rebound from two straight losses?

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Mississippi State Hands Florida First Homecoming Defeat Since 1988

Gainesville, FL (Sports Network) - Chris Relf ran for 82 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries, but it was Mississippi State's defense that stole the show, helping the Bulldogs hold off the 22nd-ranked Gators, 10-7, at The Swamp.

Relf was limited as a passer, completing just 4-of-9 passes for 33 yards. Vick Ballard added 98 yards on the ground on 20 carries for Mississippi State (5-2, 2-2), which has won four straight games for the first time since 1999, when it won eight in a row.

The Bulldogs' offense was not overly effective, but they never turned the ball over. Florida, conversely, committed two turnovers, and Chas Henry missed both of his field goal attempts, including a potential game-tying attempt from 42 yards away with just seconds remaining.

John Brantley completed 24-of-39 passes for 210 yards, but was picked off once for Florida (4-3, 2-3), which has lost three straight games for the first time since the end of the 1999 season. Additionally. the Gators lost three straight in the regular season for the first time since 1988 during a four-game skid.

Omarius Hines ran for 58 yards and a score for the Gators, who lost despite outgaining the Bulldogs, 361-245.

Florida's last possession began at its own four-yard line with 7:50 to play. Consecutive completions of nine and 11 yards to Frankie Hammond, Jr. put the Gators on their own 24, and three straight passes to Carl Moore totaling 29 yards got Florida into Bulldogs territory at the 43.

Faced with 2nd-and-2, Brantley threw two consecutive incompletions, bringing up fourth down with 39 seconds on the clock and prompting a Mississippi State timeout. The Gators were able to covert on Trey Burton's short catch-and-run for 13 yards down to the 30, but a false start penalty pushed them back five yards.

The Gators were able to gain 10 more yards before fourth down came up from the 25 with a few seconds remaining. Henry, replacing the injured Caleb Sturgis, pushed a 42-yard attempt wide right as the Bulldogs players celebrated.

The first three series of the game didn't see one first down, but Mississippi State put some points on the board on its second possession.

Relf completed a 30-yard pass to Chad Bumphis to gain the Florida 34, and Relf scampered 16 yards on the next play. The drive stalled from there, leading to Sean Brauchle's 31-yard field goal seven minutes into the contest.

Florida drove down to the Bulldogs' 34 on the next possession and went for it on 4th-and-5, but Brantley was picked off, giving Mississippi State possession on its own 36.

An 11-play, 64-yard march ensued, culminating in Relf's six-yard run into the end zone for a 10-0 lead late in the first quarter. The Bulldogs converted a pair of third downs, including a 3rd-and-2 from the Florida 16 on a LaDarius Perkins five-yard rush over the right tackle.

The second quarter was a defensive battle. Florida inexplicably went for it on 4th-and-1 from its on 39 in the early moments, and didn't covert. The Gators' defense, however, forced the Bulldogs to punt from the 37.

Florida had a chance to put points on the board with seven minutes until halftime, but Henry missed a 38-yard field goal, allowing the Bulldogs to take a 10-point lead into halftime.

The Gators finally cashed in on their first series of the second half, traveling 80 yards in 13 plays. Florida decided to run on 3rd-and-7 from its own 23, but Burton was able to gain 16 yards for the first down. During the drive, 11 rushes were called, while both pass attempts fell incomplete. Hines finished it off with a five-yard run into the end zone for a three-point game with 4:15 left in the third.

The Bulldogs used Florida's strategy of going to the run, and it put them in good position to extend their lead, but Brauchle missed a 40-yard field goal with 10:56 left.

Game Notes

Florida lost its homecoming game for the first time since 1988, snapping a 21- game win streak...The Gators still lead the all-time series, 33-19-2...Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen is a former Florida offensive coordinator under Gators head coach Urban Meyer.

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Florida Vs. Mississippi State: Gators Go Gently Into That Good Night

Chas Henry's 42-yard field goal didn't bite in enough, and the snowball's chance in hell that Florida had at an overtime victory evaporated on the spot.

For a team that seemingly couldn't lose for almost two years, the losses are piling up.

Florida lost to Mississippi State at home tonight for the first time since 1965. The Gators lost a third straight game for the first time since 1999, and a third straight regular season game for the first time since 1988. And it feels for all the world like this 2010 edition of the once-mighty Florida Gators could be the new endpoint for a lot of future "since" stats.

Injuries play a part: John Brantley, Jeff Demps, Carl Moore, most of the offensive line, and many defenders have been dinged up or worse this year. The team's youth hurts, too, especially on defense, where speed is the defining asset and a lack of discipline the main drawback. It hurt especially on this night, as Mississippi State ran the ball down Florida's throat again and again, 49 times for 212 yards, only bothering to throw nine passes.

On offense, the problem seems to be scheme. Florida has problems protecting Brantley with a patchwork line, but there is a lack of coherence that stymies the Gators: Runs with small, quick running backs go up the middle of the line; Brantley is expected to run the option, which he seems less and less comfortable with each week; receivers are either not trusted to run deep routes or drop balls when they do. Steve Addazio is something beyond persona non grata in Gainesville, and he may be both the popular figure to blame for all that is wrong with this team and the scapegoat if the program wants to declare this a lost season.

But youth and size and scheme are crutches. It's also possible that the Gators are merely getting beaten by better teams. On this night, the Bulldogs surely were.

This is a tough outfit, one with no pretensions of style. They run and fall forward with Chris Relf, then do that again with Vick Ballard, then do it some more with both. And defensive coordinator Manny Diaz throws enough confusion at opposing offenses for a ball-control attack to be enormously effective. His defense held Auburn to 17 points, has only permitted six touchdowns in four SEC games, and completely baffled Florida tonight.

This team, this year, is rock-ribbed and proud of it, and that's leaps and bounds better than what Mississippi State has had since at least Jackie Sherrill's tenure. If Dan Mullen can keep Diaz in Starkville while building a stockpile of offensive talent, Mississippi State could become a perennial contender in the SEC West.

And though time is on Florida's side, it definitely seems, in the shade of this loss, these Gators might have settle for being a team that can't win the close ones, one that might only be mighty after this down season is done.

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Florida Vs. Mississippi State: Gators Remain Dismal On Offense

Through one half, Florida has run 38 plays and gained 138 yards. That is not good.

It's not as if Mississippi State is playing much better than Florida — the Bulldogs have run 29 plays for 126 yards — but the Gators have been woeful, dismal, and virtually every synonym for "bad" in the dictionary on offense in the month of October, and this performance might be the lowest low yet.

On the bright side: Florida finished the first half with a 67-yard punt by Chas Henry downed at the Mississippi State 1. On the flipside: That is not supposed to be a highlight.

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Florida Vs. Mississippi State: Bulldogs Dominate First Quarter

Florida wanted to rebound from two straight losses. Instead, the Gators may be headed for a third.

Mississippi State dominated the first quarter against Florida, going up 10-0, intercepting John Brantley, and limiting the Gators to 25 yards.

The last time Florida lost two consecutive home games was 2003, when the Gators fell to Tennessee and Mississippi. Ron Zook was Florida's head coach then.

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No. 22 Florida Vs. Mississippi State: Will The Gators Rebound?

(Sports Network) Fresh off a second consecutive defeat, the 22nd-ranked Florida Gators will attempt to get back on track this weekend against the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen was the offensive coordinator at Florida before taking over the Bulldogs' program prior to the start of last season, so this game has added meaning for him. Mullen's squad is 4-2 thanks to victories in each of the last three games. On October 9th, the Bulldogs stepped outside of the SEC to best Houston, 47-24, on the road.

As for Florida, it opened the season with four consecutive victories by double figures to build excitement among the fans. Unfortunately, the Gators were blown out by Alabama two weeks ago and lost to LSU last weekend by a 33-29 final. They surrendered the game-winning score with six seconds remaining on the clock, and it will be interesting to see if Urban Meyer's team can shake off that disappointment and play well this weekend.

"I just have to watch the film," said Meyer after the game. "I thought our defense played better. It's a team game, and obviously our offense didn't hold up their end of the bargain."

Florida owns a 33-18-2 series lead over Mississippi State, including a 29-19 victory over the Bulldogs last season.

Mississippi State is generating 31.7 ppg this season to go along with 416.8 total ypg, so the offense is undoubtedly formidable. Mullen, an offensive guru, has used two quarterbacks this season, and both Chris Relf and Tyler Russell have shown encouraging signs. Relf has a better touchdown to interception ratio than his teammate and has thrown for more yards. Also, Relf has rushed for 295 yards, second only to Vick Ballard's 418 yards. Ballard has scored an impressive total of 12 touchdowns, 11 of which have been rushing scores, and Chad Bumphis has made 32 grabs for 431 yards and four scores.

The MSU defense has been formidable this season, limiting opponents to 17.5 ppg and 328.2 total ypg. Stopping the run has been an area of strength for the Bulldogs, who are yielding a mere 113.2 ypg at a clip of 3.5 yards per carry. As for the pass defense, there is certainly some room for improvement, as opposing quarterbacks are posting 215.0 ypg against MSU. Chris White leads the Bulldogs with 46 total tackles, including 7.5 TFLs.

In the victory over Houston last time out, Mississippi State got a tremendous performance from Ballard, who rushed for 134 yards and three touchdowns on just 14 carries. Relf and Russell both played interception-free football, and the offense as a whole racked up 538 total yards. MSU held the ball for over 39 minutes and was 8-of-15 on third down conversion attempts.

"Obviously, we ran the ball over 400 yards and controlling time of possession, which was really important coming in because when you're facing a high-powered offense, you want to keep them off the field," said Mullen after his team snapped Houston's 18-game home winning streak.

Defensively, the Bulldogs took away the Houston ground attack last week, causing the Cougars to rely entirely on the pass. Sure, that resulted in 356 yards through the air, but Mississippi State came up with a pair of interceptions and played well enough to win the game.

"We did give up a bunch of yards, but they threw the ball 59 times," said coach Mullen. "Our defense did a good job of not bending, not breaking and making some big plays when we needed to make some big plays."

John Brantley has the unenviable job of replacing Tim Tebow as the starting quarterback of the Gators, and through six games the signal caller has completed 62.1 percent of his passes for 1,056 yards with six scores and four interceptions. While those numbers are solid, they certainly fall well short of what Tebow was able to muster. Jeff Demps leads the Florida ground attack with 414 yards, but a sore foot has him questionable for this weekend's tilt. Florida is scoring 31.0 ppg while generating a modest 323.7 total ypg.

Against LSU, Florida managed only 243 total yards, including 89 rushing yards on 32 attempts. Demps didn't play in that game because of the foot injury and he was clearly missed. Brantley threw mostly short passes, as his 16 completions resulted in just 154 yards. He failed to throw a touchdown and was intercepted once. Still, Meyer praised his quarterback for fighting through injury to play the contest.

"He fought his tail off," said Meyer. "It's what you expect out of Johnny (Brantley). He's a tough nut."

On the defensive side of the football, Florida is yielding 306.7 ypg, and the squad is permitting 20.2 ppg to foes. Opponents are rushing for just 117.8 ypg against the Gators at a clip of 3.7 yards per carry. As for the pass defense, which is permitting 11.2 yards per completion, it has already come up with 13 interceptions to overshadow eight passing scores allowed. Ahmad Black paces Florida with 50 total tackles and three interceptions.

The Gators surrendered 385 total yards and four touchdowns to the LSU offense last week. The Tigers were able to make good on half of their 16 third down conversion attempts, and Florida simply didn't play well enough to win defensively.

Florida will halt a rare losing skid with a victory this weekend. Mississippi State will put up a fight however, as this team is vastly improved.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida 30, Mississippi State 20

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