It’s just Tuesday, but a lot is already being made of this Saturday’s match up, when the #1 Florida Gators, make the trek to Starkville, to take on the Bulldogs. What’s all the racket about? First of all, there is the teacher vs. the pupil factor. For the first time in a decade, Dan Mullen isn’t working side by side with Gator’s coach Urban Meyer. In December 2008, Mullen traded in one of the most coveted positions in the country-as Offensive Coordinator at UF, for his first chance to become a head coach. Due to the praise of Meyer, and the development of players such as Alex Smith, Chris Leake, and Tim Tebow, MSU was more than happy to offer Mullen that chance.
Second of all, there’s one thing that MSU can brag about that no other SEC school can, and that is that the Dawgs have won 3 in a row versus the Gators in Starkville. To Meyer’s credit, none of the 3 losses belong to him, but rather to Steve Spurrier (0-2 @ MSU) and Ron Zook (0-1). Two of those UF teams, were good enough to recover and make it to Atlanta, and as for Zook’s #19 team that tasted defeat, let’s just say “you’re welcome” Gator fans. And, 2 national titles later, and some ‘iconic’ updates to Meyer’s wardrobe, I think the fans are still enjoying themselves quite well.
Finally, is the fact of how familiar both coaches are with one another. For the record, UF is the one with the superior talent, they are the highest ranked team in the BCS poll, and MSU will once more find themselves in the role of the underdog. Even though Mullen was responsible for the X’s and O’s, sometimes you can’t stop-even what you know is coming. But, sometimes you can. Saturday will provide an interesting chess match, between Mullen and the former offense he used to run, and I’m sure he’ll be praying as everyone wearing Maroon will, that maybe heart and effort-will trump raw talent. I myself, see the familiarities as being a possible downfall for Mullen. State’s secondary is young, and an ‘information overload’ could be on the menu this week. Mullen will have to face the decision, as to whether educate the Dawg D on the tendencies and options that exist within the packages and sets that UF will throw at them, or sit back and let Torbush watch film and do his job…I myself, recommend a mix-due to Torbush’s inconsistent success in stopping opponents. When it comes down to it, the Dawgs will have to run to the ball, and play the man in front of them, otherwise over-thinking could take the State right out of the game. And considering every play, inch, and possession on both sides of the ball-will be valuable, the Dawgs cannot afford mental miscues.
One things for sure, Davis Wade will be rocking, the nation will be watching, and I guess it just gets down to ‘Gator Bait’ or ‘Dawg Food.’ Can’t wait.
Things to Note: In the All-Time Series Record between State and UF, the Blue and Orange hold the edge with a 32-18-2(ties) advantage.
State has the edge on in Starkville, winning 11 of the 20 match ups.
When does UF not have the advantage at the Swamp?…22-7-2 vs State in Gainesville.
The average scoring in the history of this match up: UF- 21.27 MSU- 15.06, and when played in Starkville, State averages 1 more point than UF.
Mullen is calling this- “the game of the year in Mississippi.”