Sitting at 4-2, Florida's preseason No. 4 ranking was down the tubes along with any national championship hopes they had. After getting beat up by Alabama and LSU in consecutive weeks, beating the Mississippi State Bulldogs became a major priority if the Gators hoped to make a BCS bowl game. Now sitting at No. 22 in the polls, their only chance was to basically run the table to win the SEC East and return to the SEC Championship game.
Coming into the game, Mississippi State's gameplan was to run the ball. Run on first down, run on second down, and if you can, run on third down. Run in the first quarter. Run in the fourth quarter. Just run, Forest, Run. Control the ball, and limit the anemic Florida Gator offense to as few possessions as possible. Bulldog quarterback Chris Relf had only nine pass attempts in the game completing four of them for just 33 yards. But he also ran the ball 22 times for 82 yards and a touchdown. Running back Vick Bollard carried the ball 20 times for 98 yards.
The Gator offense outgained the Bulldogs by over 100 yards, but still only managed 361 yards of offense. MSU coach Dan Mullen spent four years as an offensive coach on Urban Meyer's staff, so nobody could have been better equipped to analyze the Gators and pick apart the weaknesses in their offense. Mullen blitzed John Brantley often sacking him three times and forcing him into throwing an interception. Brantley completed 24-of-39 passes for just 210 yards.The Gators had a chance to win the game late when they got the ball at their own four yard line with two minutes to go. They got down to the MSU 25 yard line, but from there Chas Henry missed a 42-yard field goal that would have sent the game into overtime.
In any other year, holding the Mississippi State Bulldogs to ten points in the Swamp is a sure-fire win for the Gators, but this was no ordinary year in Gainesville. Most people expected a slight step back offensively without Tim Tebow taking the snaps, but most people also expected the Gators to be pretty good with all of the weapons they had to work with. Surely, Urban Meyer would coach them up and by midseason they would be firing on all cylinders again. But here they were in week seven showing no improvement, and no signs of getting better any time soon.
Quotes From The Game
We're not very good right now.
- Florida Head Coach Urban Meyer -
The Gators did throw, with Brantley going 24/39 with 210 yards and nine players recording a catch. But on UF's final drive, the limited passing game was exposed. UF could not go downfield. The Gators would spread the field, but never send any deep or into the deep middle to find a soft spot in the zone. Too many times, Gators receivers would make a catch five-yards in front of the sticks. Brantley was right to take what the defense gives him, but Florida never forced the Bulldogs to make a play in the secondary until the final drive.