Florida at Ole Miss game: Pick, prediction, spread, odds, line, time, watch live stream, TV channel

By Adam Silverstein
September 26, 2020
Florida at Ole Miss game: Pick, prediction, spread, odds, line, time, watch live stream, TV channel
Football

Image Credit: Graphic by Mike Meredith

The most anticipated season in years begins for the No. 5 Florida Gators on Saturday afternoon amid a global pandemic and potentially the toughest regular-season schedule in program history. That’s how strange the start of the 2020 college football season has been with the SEC not only delaying its start three weeks but deciding to play a conference-only schedule that will see its teams square off against 10 league opponents in a single season for the first time in history.

The Ole Miss Rebels were always part of the Gators’ schedule, though this meeting was supposed to take place later in the season. Instead, Florida and Ole Miss both had to turn around and begin preparing for one another on relatively short notice. Gators head coach Dan Mullen remarked that the change has been a “pain in the rear end,” especially considering the Rebels are a bit of an unknown quantity under new head coach Lane Kiffin.

“You can’t watch Ole Miss film because he wasn’t there last year, so you’re watching Ole Miss film [only] to watch the players,” Mullen said a few weeks ago. The Florida coaching staff has been forced to review film from former stops of Kiffin and his coordinators to try and piece together film review ahead of the game. The Rebels, on the other hand, have two years’ worth of film to review on the Gators.

Nevertheless, Florida will gets its season underway Saturday with national championship aspirations and an offense loaded with weapons. The Gators defense has more questions to answer as the season commences, but we should get some of those results early as this season begins.

What will go down in the game? Let’s find out. Keep on reading for updates, notes, analysis and a game prediction for Florida at Ole Miss.

Viewing information

Date: Saturday, Sept. 26 | Time: Noon ET
Location: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium — Oxford, Mississippi [64,038]

TV: ESPN (Joe Tessitore, Greg McIlroy, Marty Smith)
Live stream: WatchESPN | SiriusXM: 135/192 | Radio: WRUF, TuneIn
Live updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Tale of the tape

No. 5 Florida GatorsOle Miss Rebels
Head coachDan MullenLane Kiffin
Record0-00-0
ConferenceSECSEC

Injuries and absences

Announced out at kickoff (5): DB Brad Stewart, DL Kyree Campbell, DL Dante Lang, LB Jeremiah Moon, DB Quincy Lenton
Out (3): OL Ethan White (knee), DL Lamar Goods (foot), DB Fenley Graham (arm)
Out for season (1): DB Ethan Pouncey (hip)

Game notes

» This is the first time since 1987 that Florida will open the season with a true road game. It’s also the first time UF is opening the season against an SEC opponent since 1992.
» The Gators will open their 2020 season ranked No. 5 in the AP Top 25, the team’s first top-five ranking ahead of its first game since 2010. It is UF’s highest AP Top 25 ranking overall since 2012.
» Florida trails in the all-time series 11-12-1 to Ole Miss; however, the Gators are 4-3 against the Rebels since 1990. UF holds a 5-2 advantage in games played in Oxford, though it has not played there since 2007. The teams are meeting for the first time since 2015.
» Mullen is 5-4 all-time against Ole Miss, playing those nine prior games as the head coach at Mississippi State.
» Under Mullen, the Gators are 15-0 when scoring first, 17-0 when leading after the third quarter, 15-0 when allowing 20 points or fewer, 6-1 in games decided by fewer than 10 points and 17-0 when outrushing their opponent.
» Florida is 4-3 against ranked opponents under Mullen (3-3 against top 10 teams), beating three ranked teams in a single season in 2018 for the first time since 2012. It is 16-2 against unranked teams under Mullen.
» The Gators have scored 105 offensive touchdowns in 26 games under Mullen. They scored 93 in 38 games from 2015-17.
» UF has scored in 398 consecutive games, an NCAA record.
» Florida is one of only two FBS teams (Alabama) that has not lost to an opponent that finished the season with a losing record dating back to the 2008 season.

» The Gators under Mullen played in consecutive New Year’s Six bowls for the first time since the 2008-09 and again won both games in as many years.
» Florida in 2019 finished a season undefeated in The Swamp for the first time since 2016, third time this decade and 14th time in program history.
» The Gators began the 2019 season 6-0 for the first time since 2015. They had won 10 straight games for the first time since 2011-12 and did so by a combined 339-96.
» Florida scored 24+ points in 11 of 13 games last season.
» UF outscored opponents 265-99 in the second half and 123-33 in the fourth quarter last season.
» Florida enters 2020 having registered back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time in a decade (2008-09). In 2019, it won 11 games in a single season for the first time since 2012.
» The Gators finished inside the top 10 in back-to-back year-end polls for the first time since 2008-09.
» Mullen is only the third Florida coach to win 10+ games in back-to-back seasons (Steve Spurrier, Urban Meyer) but the first to do so in his first two years.

Prediction and analysis

Spread: Florida -13 | O/U: 58`

Florida rides into Saturday’s game with national championship hopes as healthy as they’ve been in a decade. The Gators bring into the 2020 season a well-oiled machine on offense, arguably the top quarterback in the SEC (redshirt senior Kyle Trask) and some of the best playmakers in the conference, including star junior tight end Kyle Pitts. They have only dropped five games in two seasons under Mullen and are 16-2 against unranked teams. Still, Florida is replacing a number of key pieces on both sides of the ball after some talented players entered the NFL Draft, and it is opening the season on the road against an SEC team. If you remember how it played in a neutral-site game to open 2019, that’s not a case for comfort.

Ole Miss, meanwhile, is coming off a 2019 season in which it lost five games by single digits while managing to score 37 points against LSU and 31 against Alabama. It also has a new coach in Kiffin for whom players will be looking to make a great first impression. Nevertheless, the Rebels were 4-8 last season with their only SEC victories over the league’s two worst teams (Arkansas, Vanderbilt). The best tool in Ole Miss’ bag is the element of surprise, both in terms of the scheme and who will lead it on offense. John Rhys Plumlee and Matt Corral (a one-time UF commit) are both options. Plumlee is a true dual-threat who ran for an astounding 1,023 yards with 12 touchdowns last season but was mediocre throwing the ball. Corral was a more efficient passing (59.0%) but only had six touchdowns to three interceptions.

That makes picking this game a tough call because not only are we dealing with unknowns from Ole Miss, we’re asking Florida to open on the road and win by two touchdowns in that situation. Ultimately, the Gators defense should be the key differentiator in this game. Even if the Rebels score some early, second-half adjustments should shut down the scoring and allow UF to ride out a comfortable victory. If Florida wants to be a national title contender, it needs to handle opponents like Ole Miss; it is getting an opportunity to do that right off the bat and continue it’s 6-1-1 ATS record as an underdog on the road. The total, however, is a bit too high for a season opener, so better to stay under.

2019 records: ATS picks 4-7-2 | O/U picks 7-6 | Overall: 11-13-2

Odds and ends

» Florida will wear traditional white jerseys and orange pants with orange helmets.
» Legendary Gators radio play-by-play man will see his football game attendance streak end at 394 this week. He will remain in Gainesville, Florida, as a precaution amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Hubert, 66, will call the game from Weimer Hall on campus. “I’ve never missed a Gator football game, and I’m not saying I’m missing this one,” he said. “It will be different, but I am still calling the game.”

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