Blue tops Orange 13-10 at Gators spring game

Not all coming out parties are exciting and such was the case for the Florida Gators at the 2011 Orange & Blue Debut on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Faced with a mountain of injuries and in the middle of a coaching transition, Blue defeated Orange 13-10 after each team scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The first half was a 3-3 stalemate with senior kicker Caleb Sturgis hitting a pair of field goals including a long of 43 yards for Blue.

Redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley started for Blue but only played in the first half and finished 4/14 for 45 yards after throwing five-straight incomplete passes to begin the game. He was replaced by freshman QB Jeff Driskel (2/6 for 13 yards, 23 rushing yards) at halftime before walk-on sophomore QB Christian Provancha closed out the game with a 39-yard touchdown to sophomore wide receiver Robert Clark.

Redshirt freshman QB Tyler Murphy drew the start for the Orange team and played most of the game, going 7/11 for 68 yards. He threw a TD to sophomore walk-on running back Ben Sams on a play that would have normally been ruled a sack and tossed an interception to sophomore cornerback Cody Riggs on a ball tipped by the receiver.

Other highlights from the game include a 55-yard punt by freshman punter Kyle Christy, dominant performances on the defensive line from sophomore defensive tackles Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley, some explosive plays from redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey, a solid day from sophomore WR Quinton Dunbar and two nice first-half receptions from freshman tight end A.C. Leonard.

The University of Florida announced that 53,000 fans were in attendance for the game and halftime ceremony that saw three statues being unveiled for the school’s trio of Heisman Trophy-winning QBs: Steve Spurrier (1966), Danny Wuerffel (1996) and Tim Tebow (2007). Spurrier sent in a pre-recorded message because South Carolina’s spring game was also played Saturday, while Wuerffel and Tebow stood at midfield and expressed their appreciation to the fans, administration and donors.

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2011 Orange & Blue Debut – Gameday Preview

Event: 2011 Orange & Blue Debut – Florida Gators spring football
Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, FL [Capacity: 88,548]
Time: 12:00 p.m. (EST)

TV: Sun Sports

Online Video: —–>

Live Updates: @OnlyGators Reference: Roster | Schedule 2010: Blue 27, Orange 24

Radio appearance: Adam Silverstein will be previewing the Florida Gators’ spring game Saturday on Sirius-122/XM-143 College Sports Nation at approximately 11 a.m. Tune in.

EVENT INFORMATION

» Gator Walk: North side of stadium, exterior, 9:30 a.m. start
» Parking: The following parking locations are available first-come, first-serve for fans wishing to attend the game – O’Connell Center garage, O’Connell Center lot (disabled), Commuter Lot (Lemerand Dr.) with shuttle
» Heisman Statue Ceremony: UF will unveil three statues of the school’s Heisman Trophy winners – Steve Spurrier (1966), Danny Wuerffel (1996) and Tim Tebow (2007) – on the westside of the stadium at halftime of the game near the skybox entrance. Those inside the stadium will not be allowed to exit for the ceremony but will be able to watch the unveiling live inside The Swamp after watching a brief video introduction. Spurrier, Wuerffel and Tebow will all provide remarks to the crowd after the unveiling, though only Wuerffel and Tebow are expected to be in attendance.
» Former Gators in attendance: QB Tebow, QB Wuerffel, LB Mike Peterson, RB Fred Taylor, C Maurkice & Mike Pouncey, WR Riley Cooper, WR David Nelson, LB Brandon Spikes, DE Carlos Dunlap, DB Dorian Munroe, DE Jarvis Moss, DT Joe Cohen, RB Kesthan Moore, etc.
» Recruits in attendance (List courtesy of InsideTheGators.com): LB Jeremi Powell (commit), RB Matt Jones (commit), LB Tyriq McCord, OT Patrick Miller, OT Avery Young, DE Jelani Hamilton, ATH Angelo Jean-Louis, ATH Amos Leggett, ATH Nelson Agholor, LB Noor Davis, OL Evan Goodman, ATH Marcus Maye, DT Korren Kirven, TE Kurt Freitag, DE Jhaustin Thomas, LB Tashon Whitehurst, S Ladarion Young, LB Trey Johnson (2013), RB Kelvin Taylor (2013), LB Leon McQuay III (2013), etc.

Additional information including the game format, injury report, team notes and who to keep an eye on all are available…after the break!
Continue Reading » 2011 Orange & Blue Debut – Gameday Preview

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QB Brissett announces commitment to Gators

Updated Feb. 5, 12:30 p.m.

Though National Signing Day has come and gone, the Florida Gators added another commitment to their 2011 recruiting class on Friday. Four-star quarterback Jacoby Brissett (West Palm Beach, FL) of Dwyer High School committed to Florida at his school’s basketball game Friday evening.

Brissett planned to send his National Letter of Intent to the Gators via fax on Saturday; however, his mother Elicia Brown will make him delay that step until Monday as she plans to do anything in her power to convince him to change his mind and commit to the Miami Hurricanes instead. Because Brissett is under 21, a parent or guardian’s signature is required on his LOI in order for it to be official.

“It came down to UM and Florida. I just had to follow my heart, and my heart lies in Florida,” Brissett said in front of his school’s gymnasium Friday. “It came down to making the decision where I felt the best for me,” he told the Palm Beach Post. “I can’t please everybody, and I’m hurt that I hurt my mom, as you can see I was crying with her before the game. She means the world to me.”

Brown noted that Brissett’s decision to commit to the Gators was not her choice. “I’m very disappointed,” she told the Associated Press. “There’s a chance it might not be over yet, I’m going to try to talk him out of it,” she conveyed to ESPN. “He hasn’t faxed his letter yet, he is just orally committed.”

She also told ESPN, in harsh specifics, why she was disappointed in his decision to attend Florida. “I didn’t like the way Florida handled the [recruiting] process,” Brown said. “I’ve never met [head coach Will Muschamp] face-to-face and I find that very disrespectful. ‘The U’ showed respect to the mom and that’s what I had hoped would influence Jacoby’s decision.”

Brissett isn’t backing down. “I know she’s not happy and that hurts me because my mom is everything to me,” Brissett told ESPN. “But I know she has always supported me and will always support me. I had to make the decision for myself and my future. I’m very firm in my choice.”

With five-star QB Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL) already in the fold as an early enrollee, offensive coordinator/QB coach Charlie Weis made a strong push to get a commitment out of Brissett almost immediately when he took the job in January.

After meeting the student-athlete, Weis called Mushcamp to request a scholarship offer for Brissett. Muschamp quickly granted one even though the player had previously only been offered a greyshirt by former head coach Urban Meyer.

Brissett, who passed for 2,743 yards, 32 touchdowns and only one interception in his senior season, plans to make Driskel earn a spot ahead of him and is confident he will succeed in the orange and blue.

“I’m not moving no positions. I’m a quarterback. [Driskel will] have to prove to me every day, every year, that he’s going to be better than me for him to win that starting spot,” said Brissett, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Though Driskel is the consensus No. 1 QB in the 2011 class, Brissett is ranked No. 5 by Rivals and No. 9 by Scout. ESPNU lists him as a three-star player and the No. 25 QB in the country. He has said on numerous occasions that he is not scared of competition and is confident he will eventually win a starting job at whatever college he chose.

A two-sport athlete, Brissett has indicated that he would like to pursue basketball at a collegiate level. Whether or not Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan will provide him with that opportunity remains to be seen. However, Brissett noted that Donovan said that he can attempt to earn a spot on the team if he so chooses.

Committing to Florida, he joins three former Dwyer teammates who decided to play for the Gators in 2010 – safety Matt Elam, tight end Gerald Christian and wide receiver Robert Clark.

The Post reports that Elam and freshman WR Chris Dunkley both attended Brissett’s basketball game and commitment ceremony. Brown noted that Elam is the reason Brissett plans to attend UF.

“Jacoby’s best friend since he was six plays at Florida and that had everything to do with [his decision],” she said.

With his signing, it is almost a certainty that redshirt freshman QB/tight end Jordan Reed will permanently switch to TE and freshman QB Trey Burton will change positions, too. Muschamp noted on Wednesday that Burton can play either defensive back or a hybrid fullback/QB role on offense. The status of freshman QB Tyler Murphy has not been discussed, though the player has said he only wants to be a signal-caller.

The Post first reported Brissett’s decision early Friday afternoon.

Photo Credit: Allen Eyestone/Palm Beach Post

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Report: QB Brissett set to commit to Gators

Updated 3:40 p.m.

Though National Signing Day has come and gone, it looks like the Florida Gators will add another commitment to their 2011 recruiting class. Four-star quarterback Jacoby Brissett (West Palm Beach, FL) of Dwyer High School will commit to Florida this evening, according to a source who spoke with the Palm Beach Post.

With five-star QB Jeff Driskel (Oviedo, FL) already in the fold as an early enrollee, offensive coordinator/QB coach Charlie Weis made a strong push to get a commitment out of Brissett almost immediately when he took the job in January.

After meeting the student-athlete, Weis called head coach Will Mushcamp to request a scholarship offer for Brissett. Muschamp quickly granted one even though the player had previously only been offered a greyshirt by former head coach Urban Meyer.

Miami (FL) and Wisconsin were also strongly considered by Brissett.

Though Driskel is the consensus No. 1 QB in the 2011 class, Brissett is ranked No. 5 by Rivals and No. 9 by Scout. ESPNU lists him as a three-star player and the No. 25 QB in the country. He has said on numerous occasions that he is not scared of competition and is confident he will eventually win a starting job at whatever college he chooses.

Brissett will officially announce his decision at his Dwyer basketball game Friday night.

A two-sport athlete, he has also given an indication that he would like to pursue basketball at a collegiate level. Whether or not Gators head basketball coach Billy Donovan will provide him with that opportunity remains to be seen.

Committing to Florida, he joins three former Dwyer teammates who joined the Gators in 2010 – safety Matt Elam, tight end Gerald Christian and wide receiver Robert Clark.

With Brissett’s signing, it is almost a certainty that redshirt freshman QB/tight end Jordan Reed will permanently switch to TE and freshman QB Trey Burton will change positions, too. Muschamp noted on Wednesday that Burton can play either defensive back or a hybrid fullback/QB role on offense. The status of freshman QB Tyler Murphy has not been discussed, though the player has said he only wants to be a signal-caller.

UPDATE: Since the Post first reported Brissett’s decision, The Gainesville Sun has confirmed it via sources of their own. However, the Associated Press‘s Tim Reynolds has reported via Twitter that he is hearing Brissett actually told two different schools that they will receive his commitment. Additionally, the Post has noted that Brissett will not sign or send in his Letter of Intent Friday no matter which program he commits to. OGGOA will keep you updated on this story as it progresses.

Photo Credit: Allen Eyestone/Palm Beach Post

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Recruits to watch through National Signing Day

Updated: Feb. 1 at 9:45 p.m.

Sixteen members strong, the Florida Gators 2011 recruiting class could look totally different – or exactly the same – at the end of the week. With the vast majority of uncommitted high school football players announcing their decisions on National Signing Day this Wednesday, a handful of others may wait a few days to make their intentions known. Below OGGOA breaks down who Florida is still waiting to hear from, when they might learn of their decision and some of the latest insights on each player.

Linebacker Curtis Grant (Richmond, VA)
Accolades: No. 2 player in the country (No. 1 linebacker) according to Rivals; No. 46 player in the country (No. 3 linebacker) according to ESPNU
Leaders: Florida, Ohio State
Contenders: Virginia, North Carolina
Skinny: Though his hometown school and a regional choice are both in the picture, it is believed by most that this is a two-horse race between UF and OSU. The Gators have sent head coach Will Muschamp (two weeks ago) as well as defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, linebackers coach D.J. Durkin and tight ends coach Brian White (last week) in-home to see him. With Florida’s staff only coming together recently, Grant may feel more comfortable elsewhere. Then again, the press put on by UF may have impressed him and he would likely have the opportunity to play relatively early.
Announcement: NSD at 1:50 p.m.

Linebacker Stephone Anthony (Wadesboro, NC)
Accolades: No. 1 linebacker (No. 32 player in the country) according to ESPNU; No. 3 linebacker (No. 24 palyer in the country) according to Rivals
Leader: Clemson
Contenders: Florida, Virginia Tech, North Carolina, North Carolina State
Skinny: It appears that Anthony is favoring Clemson and Virginia Tech with the Tigers edging. In fact, almost every recruiting analyst predicting where Anthony will eventually declare tabs Clemson.
Update: Anthony eliminated UF on Monday.
Announcement: NSD at 11:30 a.m.

Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan (Lake City, FL)
Accolades: Consensus No. 2 defensive tackle in the country, listed at No. 17 on the ESPNU 150 and No. 29 on the Rivals 100
Leaders: Florida State, LSU
Contenders: Florida, Tennessee
Skinny: As OGGOA has previously reported, the Gators have put a full-court press on Jernigan. Assistant defensive line coach Bryant Young visited him in-home during his first day on the job, and he has also met personally with Muschamp and Quinn. Florida was thought to have a legitimate chance, but Rivals affiliate VolQuest reported that Jernigan loved his visit to UT over the weekend and it may have supplanted UF in his top three. Always in the back of Jernigan’s mind, however, may be that he and his family have been long-time Gators fans and his home is just 45 miles from The Swamp.
Update: The Orlando Sentinel reports that Jernigan is no longer considering UF.
Announcement: NSD at 10 a.m. on ESPN

Learn about eight more 2011 recruits…after the break.
Continue Reading » Recruits to watch through National Signing Day

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Seminoles embarrass Gators with 31-7 rout

Everything went wrong for the Florida Gators (7-4) Saturday night at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, FL, as the No. 22 Florida State Seminoles (9-3) snapped a six-game losing streak to their bitter in-state rivals by cruising to a dominant 31-7 victory.

Down 7-3 going into the second quarter, Florida State put together a 21-point effort before halftime by taking advantage of a number of Florida miscues. The Seminoles would add a touchdown in the second half and shut the Gators out for the final three quarters of the game, earning their biggest win in the series since 1988 (52-17).

After a phantom facemask penalty on senior safety Ahmad Black helped FSU earn a field goal on their first possession, redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose returned the ensuing kickoff for 62 yards. UF got on the board quickly putting together a five-play, 32-yard touchdown drive that ended with a 20-yard pass from redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley to freshman WR Robert Clark.

A fumble by redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Reed (in at QB) ended what appeared to be a promising drive for Florida in the middle of the first quarter, and a second fumble by redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey on the Gators’ next possession at their own 14 gave Florida State the ball back in scoring position. Two plays later QB Christian Ponder tossed a quick pass to WR Lonnie Pryor to give the Seminoles a 10-7 lead that they would never look back from.

Faced with a three-and-out at their own 36 yard line on their next possession, UF attempted a fake punt on 4th and 5; unfortunately senior punter/kicker Chas Henry was stopped a yard short for the team’s first failed fake punt under head coach Urban Meyer. On the very next play, Ponder completed a 39-yard touchdown pass to WR Rodney Smith who beat redshirt junior cornerback Moses Jenkins for a wide-open score to put FSU up 17-7.

The Seminoles would have to work a bit harder for their final points of the quarter, putting together a 12-play, 73-yard drive that concluded with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Ponder to WR Taiwan Easternling. The Gators appeared to bounce back quickly with 2:47 left on the clock as Reed and Rainey ran the ball for a combined 60 yards to just enter the red zone. However, after a Florida State timeout to slow things down, Brantley was brought in for Reed on 2nd and 8 and subsequently threw an interception.

FSU would put the game away for good on their first possession of the third quarter, piecing together a 10-play, 71-yard touchdown drive; Ponder tossed his third score of the day with a 29-yard pass to WR Willie Haulstead.

In addition to their numerous miscues, Florida appeared undisciplined and inept by committing 11 penalties for 79 yards (most courtesy of the offensive line). The Gators outgained the Seminoles 212-112 on the ground, but UF was no match for a FSU passing attack that almost quadrupled their effort (221-64).

Brantley, who mostly saw work on obvious passing downs until Reed left the game with a concussion in the second half, finished 6-of-12 for 52 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Reed and Rainey rushed for 74 and 73 yards, respectively, and junior running back Jeff Demps took nine carries for 44 yards. Ponder finished 16-of-24 for 221 yards with three touchdowns, and Smith ended up as his leading receiver with four receptions for 79 yards and a score.

Saturday’s loss was just Meyer’s second rivalry game defeat during his tenure at Florida (Georgia, 2007) and his first to Florida State.

Photo Credit: Steve Cannon/Associated Press

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11/4: Meyer delivers good, bad injury updates

Florida Gators head coach Urban Meyer met with the media after practice on Thursday and divulged a few important notes about the team’s eight game of the 2010-11 season on Saturday against the Vanderbilt Commodores. OGGOA has compiled some of the key details which you can check out below.

FIRST THE GOOD NEWS

Injured early against Mississippi State and out for Saturday’s game against Georgia, redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose (ankle) “looked really good” at practice on Thursday and is expected to play against Vanderbilt, according to Meyer. Joining him will be junior running back Jeff Demps (foot), who saw some action in Jacksonville, FL, but has been limited in practice all week for precautionary reasons. Earlier this week, Demps said he still had pain in his foot when cutting but feels fine when running straight. Meyer also affirmed his statement on Wednesday that both sophomore RB Mike Gillislee (hamstring) and redshirt senior RB Emmanuel Moody (thigh) are 100 percent healthy and ready to return to the field.

NOW THE BAD…

Meyer announced Thursday that redshirt freshman tight end Desmond Parks – who has yet to see the field in 2010 – will miss the remainder of the season after having his third wrist surgery in two years. “He’s a tough kid, man. Good dude. The whole deal,” Meyer said. “He won’t play again this year, but we’re pushing for spring practice.”

Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Jaye Howard (ankle) is still being hampered by his injury, has barely been able to practice this week and “doesn’t look good for the game.” Also out of action Saturday is redshirt sophomore left tackle Matt Patchan (wrist) and freshman WR Robert Clark (ankle).

DUAL ROLES BENEFIT THE OFFENSE

Redshirt junior WR Chris Rainey and redshirt freshman TE Jordan Reed have been playing two positions for the Gators this season, with Rainey carrying the ball as a running back and Reed taking snaps as a Widcat quarterback. That will continue Saturday, according to Meyer, as Rainey will be taking at least half of his snaps in the backfield and Reed will continue to be used along with redshirt junior starter John Brantley and freshman Trey Burton. In fact, Meyer promised Reed would throw the ball this week, for what it’s worth.

QUOTES

On if the up-tempo offense is now second-nature and if there have been any tweaks to it: “Working through the glitches…you know, we had penalties last week. You couldn’t have done what we done without a bye week.”

On redshirt freshman guard Jon Halapio: “He’s one of our most improved players on the team. Just the way he practices, his work ethic, his toughness. He’s going to be a really, really fine offensive lineman in this conference. […] He’s what you look for in recruiting.”

On if players are looking ahead to South Carolina: “No, I don’t see that at all. My basic concern is getting them up to go play [the Vanderbilt] game. It’s an early game, that’s a pain in the rear end.”

On why they decided to bring the quarterbacks in-and-out: “If you take Johnny out of the game, they’ll play one defense. If [you] keep Johnny in the game, they’ll do blitz-a-thon like it’s been. The tempo, having them pop in and out, it’s hard – especially in a noisy stadium – to start changing defenses. You get mistakes.”

On sophomore tight end Jordan Reed playing more: “He’s really worked really hard. Coming of age. He’s earned his right [to play]. He can help us.”

On potentially resting Demps instead of playing him: “We’re just being smart right now. If he can go, he’ll go.”

On Burton: “Trey’s one of those rare breeds that knows the offense – knows it really well. He’s one of those guys that just picks it up [snaps his fingers] so fast.”

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Gators run over by Bulldogs, drop third straight

The No. 22/22 Florida Gators (4-3, 2-3 SEC) missed a game-tying 42-yard field goal with only seconds remaining to lose their third straight game for the first time since 1999 as the Mississippi State Bulldogs (5-2, 2-2 SEC) defeated them 10-7 Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL.

Florida’s loss was its first to Mississippi State at home since 1965 and its first defeat on homecoming in 22 years. It also marked the first time the Gators lost three regular season games since 1988. UF will be unranked when the new top 25 polls are released on Sunday for the first time under head coach Urban Meyer.

The Bulldogs’ win Saturday was a marquee victory for head coach Dan Mullen; it also gave Mississippi State its first four-game winning streak since 1999 (8-0).

After three consecutive three-and-outs to start the game, MSU took over from their own 32. They brought the ball downfield with a 30-yard pass completion from quarterback Chris Relf to wide receiver Chad Bumphis and a subsequent 16-yard gain up the middle on a keeper by Relf. Four plays later, the Bulldogs put the first points on the board with a 31-yard field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

The Gators responded by moving the ball down the field with a few short passes and a 14-yard run by sophomore running back Mike Gillislee. Faced with 4th and 5 on Mississippi State’s 34, redshirt junior QB John Brantley threw an interception to cornerback Jonathan Banks, turning the ball over in what would have been a punt situation anyway.

It did not take long for the Bulldogs to capitalize as Mullen’s offense put together an 11-play, 64-yard drive that ended in a rushing touchdown for Relf from six yards out to go up 10-0 in the first quarter.

Florida looked anemic starting the second quarter, failing to convert a 4th and 1 from their own 39; freshman WR Robert Clark was dropped behind the line for a two-yard loss. Mississippi State was unable to capitalize, handing UF the ball back with 13:20 left.

That is when the Gators offense showed signs of life as Brantley led them down to MSU’s 20 with a 15-play, 59-yard drive that took 6:20 off the clock. UF was unable to capitalize, however, as senior punter Chas Henry missed a 38-yard field goal.

Going into the half, Florida was without redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose (ankle), redshirt freshman linebacker Jelani Jenkins (head) and redshirt junior defensive tackle Jaye Howard (ankle), all of whom went down with injuries early.

The Gators finally got on the board with their first possession in the third quarter by utilizing freshman QB Trey Burton extensively on a 13-play, 80-yard drive that drew the Bulldogs’ lead closer at 10-7.

Hope was raised momentarily later in the third quarter when it appeared MSU had fumbled on UF’s side of the field. After a review the play was overturned, Mississippi State missed a 40-yard field goal to give the ball back to Florida once again.

Taking over from their own 23, the Gators appeared to move the ball with ease, gaining positive yardage on their first six plays of the series including a 31-yard run by sophomore WR Omarius Hines. On 2nd and 4 from the Bulldogs’ 17, junior RB Jeff Demps coughed the ball up by fumbling while attempting to spin out of a tackle.

MSU succeeded in milking the clock by running the ball nine-straight times on their next possession, getting it to midfield while wasting almost six minutes before punting. As a whole, the Bulldogs ran the ball on 27 of 28 plays in the second half gaining positive yardage all but once.

UF took over with 2:09 remaining from their own four with an opportunity to tie or win.

With time running out, Brantley engineered a 13-play passing drive in which he completed nine passes for 76 yards, getting the ball to Mississippi State’s 25 with nine seconds left. Henry came on to attempt a 42-yard field goal but kicked the ball wide right, crushing the hopes of Florida fans in The Swamp.

Brantley finished the night 24-of-39 for 210 yards and an interception. Hines led the Gators with 58 yards rushing on six carries, though Burton also ran eight times for 43 yards. Redshirt sophomore WR Frankie Hammond led the way with five receptions for 69 yards, and Burton added five catches of his own for 37 yards. Relf and RB Vick Ballard were responsible for nearly all of Mississippi State’s offense, rushing a combined 22 times for 180 yards and a touchdown.

Florida will take a three-game losing streak into their bye before facing Georgia in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party in Jacksonville, FL, on Oct. 30. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m., and the game will air live on CBS. Even though the Gators have lost three straight, they still control their destiny in the Southeastern Conference as Eastern Division foe No. 10/12 South Carolina also fell Saturday.

Photo Credit: Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun

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