No. 25 Florida Gators football will look to remain undefeated against the No. 3 Ole Miss Rebels on Saturday afternoon. The Gators are hoping to avoid dropping a Southeastern Conference game while hosting with one of the top-ranked teams in the nation.
Here’s a look ahead at Saturday’s game: what to know and how to watch the Gators.
Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: 70°F, mostly cloudy (15% chance of rain), winds WNW at 9 mph
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT
TV: ESPN (Brad Nessler, Todd Blackledge, Holly Rowe)
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter
Tale of the tape
|No. 25 Florida Gators||No. 3 Ole Miss Rebels|
|Head Coach: Jim McElwain||Head Coach: Hugh Freeze|
|Record: 4-0 (2-0 SEC)||Record: 4-0 (2-0 SEC)|
|Conference: Southeastern||Conference: Southeastern|
Spread: Florida +7 | O/U: 49
No longer trying to keep up a winning streak after spending two weeks defending history, the Gators encounter their toughest test yet this season. Florida is not taking on an Ole Miss team of the past. Under Freeze, the Rebels are 28-15 and 13-4 dating back to the start of the 2014 season. Yet while Ole Miss has seen plenty of success, it has shown to be susceptible to upset with a 30-0 defeat at the hands of unranked Arkansas and 42-3 loss to TCU in the Peach Bowl. Even this season, the Rebels were tied 13-13 with Vanderbilt late in the third quarter just one week after knocking off Alabama on the road.
The Gators are playing in their first SEC game on ESPN’s main channel since Sept. 15, 2012, which shows you how long it has been since Florida was playing well enough that the network decided to feature it in its primetime slot. UF has shown promise during the young season but still only managed single-digit victories over East Carolina (31-24), Kentucky (14-9) and Tennessee (28-27).
The Gators offense has struggled more often than its flourished this season, and the same simply cannot be said for the high-powered Rebels. On the other end, Florida’s defense has been playing “bend but don’t break” football for much of the season, but it has yet to face an opponent that could truly snap it like Ole Miss can. The Landshark defense has only allowed two SEC opponents to cross the 30-point plateau in the last two calendar years – then-No. 2 Alabama two weeks ago and then-No. 4 Mississippi State last season.
Simply put, it’s a tough ask for Florida to win this game, let alone keep it within a touchdown, and I do not believe the spread winner will hinge on the half point that may or may not come in. Ole Miss should be able to pull off the cover with the game going over the total (assuming Will Grier plays).
ATS picks: 4-0 | O/U picks: 3-1
Injuries and absences
» A number of Gators are dealing with the flu or flu-like symptoms, as mentioned this week by McElwain. The number may be as high as 21 players, via a name-less and unsourced report on ESPN. Among those affected is redshirt freshman quarterback Will Grier, who was named the starter on Wednesday but reportedly did not practice on Thursday. Grier is expected to be a game-time decision for the contest.
» Active (2): Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III (back), quarterback Treon Harris (suspension), cornerback Jalen Tabor (suspension)
» Questionable/doubtful (5): Quarterback Will Grier (illness), tight end C’yontai Lewis (hand), linebacker Jeremi Powell (leg), defensive back Kylan Johnson (ankle), defensive tackle Thomas Holley (hip), linebacker Matt Rolin (undisclosed)
» Out (3): Kicker Austin Hardin (undisclosed), linebacker Alex Anzalone (shoulder), running back Case Harrison (thumb)
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) October 3, 2015
The team captains, which change weekly, are solely responsible for choosing the uniforms ahead of each game.
Honorary Mr. Two-Bits
Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley is on a bye week with the New England Patriots and has returned to Gainesville to play this role before the game. Easley is the youngest (non-student) Honorary Mr. Two-Bits in he two years the new tradition has been going on.
We went a full week without caving and writing about it. But here you go.
» Florida is 12-10-1 all-time against Ole Miss, 6-4 in in the last 10 meetings and 6-3-1 in The Swamp.
» The Gators and Rebels are meeting for the first time in seven years, the last coming in 2008. Ole Miss was victorious over Florida, ending the eventual national championship winners their only defeat that season. Following the game, quarterback Tim Tebow made his famous speed, dubbed “The Promise.”
» UF will be playing its first SEC game on ESPN’s main channel since Sept. 15, 2012.
» The Gators last week improved to 39-4 in the month of September since 2005.
» Florida is 25-14 since 1990 against ranked opponents in The Swamp.
» UF in 2015 will face eight bowl teams, six ranked in the preseason AP Top 25.
» The Gators’ defense has been a hallmark of the program; it are 197-11 since 1990 when an opponent scores 21 points or fewer in a contest.
» Florida’s defense has forced the most turnovers in the SEC since 2000 (403).
» The Gators are tied for the nation’s longest streak of returning either a kickoff or punt for a touchdown, doing so in 10 straight seasons.
» Florida is one of only four teams nationally to play three or more consecutive games away from home in 2015 (Arkansas, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe).
» The Gators have the nation’s third-best home winning percentage since 1990 (.851). UF is 66-7 against nonconference opponents and 111-10 against unranked teams in that span.
» Florida has the second-most wins in the nation since 1990 (243, Ohio State – 251).
— BrandonSpikes55 (@brandonspikes55) October 3, 2015
Listen Gator Nation we are here for a reason in prime time just remember our only job is to cheer and root these young guys on. Let's go
— Ben Troupe (@BenTroupe84) October 3, 2015