The last series Ole Miss had with Florida in 2003, Ole Miss defeated Florida 20-17 in what was an upset at the time but ended up showing that Ole Miss was the better team that year.
Ole Miss seemed to be headed in the right direction as Eli Manning set off into the sun and the glory of NFL millions. Florida looked more like the program on the decline now.
2003 to a close.
Four seasons later and 6 total SEC wins show that Ole Miss has to get it back on the right track.
A win over Florida for Ole Miss would be astronomical for confidence and a major uplift to a program who has obviously struggled since 2004. However, although many Ole Miss fans are optimistic on seeing a close game at least for the first half, no one is putting money on the Rebels over the Gators.
The Gators come in with quite possibly the most explosive offense in the nation led by Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and, WR/RB/KR, Mr. Do-It-All Percy Harvin. Ole Miss has seen maybe one offense, Wake Forest, that at least comes close to mediocrity compared to Florida.
Florida, as stated by the Ole Miss staff and much of the Florida staff, doesn't run anything fancy or complicated, but the simple offense Florida runs is very tough for many offenses to stop due to their athletes and the speed they possess.
The Gators will be looking for that blowout win over Ole Miss that was expected all three times the Rebs have played them over the past six years. Ole Miss defeated Florida in 2002 and 2003, and last year got out of Oxford with a narrow win, 30-24.
Ole Miss looks to turn the corner against the SEC as they have Florida, South Carolina, and Alabama looming. Ole Miss must win one, maybe two, of those games to expect to make it to a bowl game in 2008.
Ole Miss has shown glares of greatness with QB Jevan Snead, as his bright spot was in Winston Salem as he threw for 4 TDs and over 250 yards and led a heroic last minute drive to take the lead versus the Demon Deacons only to have it taken away by the leg of Sam Swank of Wake Forest with 8 seconds to go.
Keys to the Game for Each Team
Blitz Tim Tebow
When you have Greg Hardy available, you better ulitize his abilities. With Ole Miss's defensive line now at full strength, Ole Miss must get in Tim Tebow's face and create distractions to keep this game close. Greg Hardy, last year's SEC sack leader with only playing partially, must be able to get in the backfield and get Tebow rattled to have a chance. As seen by Tim Tebow, you aren't going to be able to shut him down, you can only hope to contain him.
Get out to an early start
Ole Miss hasn't been on the receiving in of a huge deficit this season, so Florida, with their hostile environment, needs to get out to a hot start against the Rebs and build at least a 10-14 point lead at halftime. Letting the Rebels hang around by eating up the clock like the Gators have done in the past might not work, as Ole Miss has arguably the most talented offense Florida has seen this far.
Derek Stephens is the Ole Miss Community Leader for BleacherReport.com. If you wish to contact him about this article, please leave a comment below. If you wish to contact him about anything else, please click here to leave a message on his bulletin board.
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