It’s fourth down and a yard to go. The Florida Gators trail by one but they have arguably the best player in college football history if you need to get just that one-yard.
Ole Miss stopped Tim Tebow short and the Gators went on to lose in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, 31-30. That loss gave way to “The Promise” and lifted Florida the rest of the season on their way to a national championship but Gator fans remember that they were just one yard away from potentially the first undefeated season in school history.
The Gators have lost three of their last four meetings with Ole Miss but will look to change the tide in the seldom played SEC conference matchup in 2015.
Opponent: Ole Miss
When and Where:
The Florida Gators will host the Ole Miss Rebels on Saturday, October 3.
Ole Miss leads the series 12-10-1
The Florida Gators lost 31-30 to Ole Miss in Gainesville on September 27, 2008. That would be the only loss that Florida suffered that year as they went on to win a National Championship.
DL | Robert Nkemdiche | JR
(35 tackles, 4 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 pass breakup)
The former No. 1 recruit in the country and All-American anchors the Rebels defensive line. Nkemdiche enters his junior season injury free — something that can’t be said of the following two featured players — and should have a good year before declaring for the NFL Draft.
Nkemdiche started his career at defensive end but moved inside to play the three technique as a sophomore. His numbers were down slightly but there is an adjustment that comes with moving inside. Inside things come at you a lot faster but with a year under his belt, Nkemdiche should be acclimated now.
LT | Laremy Tunsil | JR
Tunsil was one of the rare offensive linemen that was able to come in and start right away. He anchored the left side of the offensive line last year before breaking his leg in the Peach Bowl. Tunsil has been rehabbing back from that injury and then got involved with an off the field issue regarding meeting with agents. Tunsil is allowed to speak with agents under NCAA regulations, but the league will look into the situation. Hugh Freeze said at SEC Media Days that he is confident Tunsil will be able to play this season.
WR | Laquan Tredwell | JR
(48 catches, 632 yards, 5TD)
Treadwell suffered a gruesome injury against Auburn that sidelined him for the season. The ultra-talented wide receiver is on pace to make a full recovery and should be 100-percent healthy by the season opener. Treadwell is a mismatch for just about any defensive back in the country but he will face a true test in Florida Gators All-American cornerback, Vernon Hargreaves III.
Other returners: RB Jaylen Watkins, RB Jordan Wilkins, DB Mike Hilton, DB Tony Conner, DL Marquis Hayes, LB Denzel Nkemdiche
QB Bo Wallace, WR Vince Sanders, DB Senquez Golson, DB Cody Prewitt, LB Deterrian Shackelford
This game is huge for both teams. Florida is coming off of what will be a highly intense game against Tennessee and has trips to Missouri and LSU the following two weeks after this game. Ole Miss will have already gotten Alabama out of the way and they’ll get an easy week against Vanderbilt before traveling to Gainesville and essentially a bye week, hosting New Mexico State after traveling to Gainesville.
The big question mark with Ole Miss is how will transfer quarterback Chad Kelly do? Kelly was dismissed from Clemson for off the field issues, went to junior college and became the No. 1 JUCO quarterback before an arrest in last winter. Kelly is in a battle with sophomore Ryan Buchanan. Kelly has all the talent in the world but he needs to put it all together.
Offensively, Ole Miss has questions at quarterback but they have possibly the best wide receiver in the country in Treadwell and a deep receiver group behind him. The Rebels return their entire backfield, who get to run behind an offensive line that returns four seniors and Tunsil.
Defensively the Rebels have a great secondary, aided by a pass rush brought on by Nkemdiche, Marquis Haynes and Fadol Brown. The Rebels also bring back safety Tony Conner, a preseason All-American to lead the secondary.
Ole Miss’ strength is their receivers but Florida can matchup with any receiver group in the country. Florida will try to negate the passing game and then the question turns to Florida’s front seven. Can the Gators stuff the run this year with an inexperienced, albeit talented, front seven?
This is the beginning of a tough month of October for the Florida Gators but a win over Ole Miss would give them a lot of confidence before heading on the road to Missouri and LSU.