No. 1 Gators hope to end Starkville hex

Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow and Dan Mullen renew acquaintances tonight, with Mullen on the opposite sideline leading Mississippi State against top-ranked Florida in Starkville, Miss. The Gators have not beaten the Bulldogs in Starkville since 1985. Mullen was offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach for the Gators and Meyer and helped Florida to national championships in 2006 and 2008. In 2007, he helped Tebow, who became the first quarterback to run for more than 20 touchdowns and pass for more than 20 touchdowns (he finished with 23 and 32, respectively) to the Heisman Trophy.


WHEN: Today at 7:30 p.m. EDT.

WHERE: Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field (55,082), Starkville, Miss.

WEATHER FORECAST: Clear skies and cool, temperatures in low 50s and falling during the game. There is only a 10 percent chance of precipitation. Winds will be from WNW at 3 miles per hour.

OVER THE AIRWAVES: ESPN will have the telecast with Brad Nessler (play-by-play), Todd Blackledge (analyst) and Erin Andrews (sidelines). Gator Radio Network has broadcast (see below for more information and stations) with Mick Hubert, Lee McGriff and Steve Babik.

RECORDS: Florida is 6-0 overall, 4-0 in the SEC East Division. Mississippi State is 3-4 overall, 1-2 in the SEC West Division.

RANKINGS: Florida is ranked No. 1 in the Bowl Championship Series rankings, USA Today (American Football Coaches Association), Harris Interactive (BCS rankings) and Legends Coaches polls and No. 2 in the Associated Press (media). Mississippi State is unranked.

COACHES: Florida, Urban Meyer (Cincinnati, 1988) is 50-9 in his fifth season at Florida and 89-17 in his ninth season as a head coach (with previous stops at Bowling Green and Utah). Mississippi State, Dan Mullen (Ursinus College, 1994) is 3-4 in his first year at Mississippi State and as a head coach. Mullen served as Urban Meyer’s offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach for four seasons at Florida and also was quarterbacks coach at Utah and Bowling Green and a graduate assistant at Notre Dame when Meyer coached at all three universities.

GATOR BYTES: Florida has the nation’s longest winning streak at 16, which also is the school record, and seeking its eight-straight SEC road victory. … Florida will be seeking its first victory in Starkville since a 36-22 victory during the 1985 season. The Gators have lost at Mississippi State since then during the 1986, ’92, 2000 and ’04 seasons, the last one setting in motion head coach Ron Zook’s firing the following week as Florida’s head coach. … With the 23-20 victory over Arkansas, Urban Meyer earned his 50th victory as Florida’s head coach, earning the distinction in his 59th game at the SEC school, tying the quickest start of any coach at an SEC school. Previously, Frank Thomas of Alabama won 50 of his first 59 games. … When Alabama leapfrogged Florida into first place in the AP ranking, it ended a nine-week Florida run as the No. 1 team, the school’s second longest streak next to a run of 10 weeks in 1996. … This is the 77th time Florida has appeared in the BCS rankings but the first time as No. 1. Only Texas (78) has appeared in the BCS rankings more.

LAST TIME OUT: The Gators got a 27-yard field goal from Caleb Sturgis (his third field goal of the game) with nine seconds remaining in regulation to beat Arkansas 23-20 last Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Homecoming Weekend. The field goal culminated a 14-play, 69-yard drive. The field goal completed a comeback by Florida, which turned the ball over four times, three times in the first half. The Razorbacks scored early in the second quarter after a scoreless opening 15 minutes and led 10-3 at halftime. Sturgis kicked his second field of the game and quarterback Tim Tebow threw a 77-yard touchdown pass to Deonte Thompson that gave Florida a 13-10 lead, but the Razorbacks tied the score on a field goal and then took the lead 20-13 on a 75-yard scoring pass from quarterback Ryan Mallett to wide receiver Greg Childs. Tebow directed two scoring drives, the first leading to a 10-yard touchdown run by Jeff Demps and the second leading to Sturgis’ game-winning field goal. Tebow completed 17 of 26 passes for 255 yards and rushed for 69 yards in the victory.

SERIES: Florida leads the series 32-18-2.

Games at Starkville: Mississippi State leads 7-3. Games at Jackson, Miss.: Florida leads, 6-4. Games at Gainesville: Florida leads 19-7-1. Games at neutral sites: Florida leads 4-0-1. Current streak: 1, Florida (2005, 35-9 victory at Gainesville). Last Florida victory at Starkville: 1985 when No. 11 Florida won 36-22. Longest Florida winning streak: 5 three times (1966-70, 1974-78 and 1987-91). Longest Mississippi State winning streak: 7 (1936-1942).

Results of games in the series (number in parentheses next to school was its ranking heading into the game that season):

1923: Florida 13, Mississippi State 13 at Jacksonville, Fla.; 1924: Florida 27, Mississippi State 0 at Montgomery, Ala.; 1925: Florida 12, Mississippi State 0 at Tampa, Fla.; 1936: Mississippi State 7, Florida 0 at Gainesville; 1937: Mississippi State 14, Florida 13 at Starkville, Miss.; 1938: Mississippi State 22, Florida 0 at Starkville, Miss.; 1939: Mississippi State 14, Florida 0 at Gainesville; 1940: Mississippi State 27, Florida 7 at Gainesville;

1941: Mississippi State 6, Florida 0 at Starkville, Miss.; 1942: Mississippi State (16), Florida (NR) 12 at Gainesville; 1954: Florida 7, Mississippi State 0 at Gainesville; 1955: Florida 20, Mississippi State 14 at Gainesville; 1956: Florida 26, Mississippi State 0 at Starkville, Miss.; 1957: Mississippi State 29, Florida 20 at Gainesville; 1958: Mississippi State (11) 14, Florida (18) 7 at Gainesville; 1959: Florida (19) 14, Mississippi State (NR) 13 at Gainesville; 1962: Florida 19, Mississippi State 9 at Jackson, Miss.; 1963: Florida 9, Mississippi State 9 at Gainesville; 1964: Florida 16, Mississippi State 13 at Jackson, Miss.; 1965: Mississippi State (NR) 18, Florida (8) 13 at Gainesville;

1966: Florida 28, Mississippi State 7 at Gainesville; 1967: Florida 24, Mississippi State 7 at Jackson, Miss.; 1968: Florida (4) 31, Mississippi State (NR) 14 at Gainesville; 1969: Florida (12) 47, Mississippi State (NR) 35 at Jackson, Miss.; 1970: Florida (14) 34, Mississippi State (NR) 13 at Gainesville; 1971: Mississippi State 13, Florida 10 at Jackson, Miss.; 1972: Florida 28, Mississippi State 13 at Gainesville; 1973: Mississippi State (NR) 33, Florida (16) 12 at Jackson, Miss.; 1974: Florida 29, Mississippi State 13 at Gainesville; 1975: Florida (19) 27, Mississippi State (NR) 10 at Jackson, Miss.;

1976: Florida 34, Mississippi State 30 at Gainesville; 1977: Florida (13) 24, Mississippi State (12) 22 at Jackson, Miss.; 1978: Florida 34, Mississippi State 0 at Gainesville; 1979: Mississippi State 24, Florida 10 at Jackson, Miss.; 1980: Florida 21, Mississippi State 15 at Gainesville; 1981: Mississippi State (12) 28, Florida (NR) 7 at Jackson, Miss.; 1982: Florida (5) 27, Mississippi State (NR) 17 at Gainesville; 1983: Florida (15) 35, Mississippi State (NR) 12 at Starkville, Miss.; 1984: Florida 27, Mississippi State 12 at Gainesville; 1985: Florida (11) 36, Mississippi State (NR) 12 at Starkville, Miss.;

1986: Mississippi State 16, Florida 10 at Starkville, Miss.; 1987: Florida 38, Mississippi State 3 at Gainesville; 1988: Florida (20) 17, Mississippi State (NR) 0 at Gainesville; 1989: Florida 21, Mississippi State 0 at Tampa, Fla.; 1990: Florida (17) 34, Mississippi State (NR) 21 at Gainesville; 1991: Florida (14) 29, Mississippi State (21) 7 at Orlando, Fla.; 1992: Mississippi State (24) 30, Florida (13) 6 at Starkville, Miss.; 1993: Florida (5) 38, Mississippi State (NR) 24 at Gainesville; 2000: Mississippi State (NR) 47, Florida (3) 35 at Starkville, Miss.; 2001: Florida (2) 52, Mississippi State (21) 0 at Gainesville;

2004: Mississippi State (NR) 38, Florida (19) 31 at Starkville, Miss.; 2005: Florida (13) 35, Mississippi State (NR) 9 at Gainesville.

LAST MEETING IN GAINESVILLE: In the 2005 season, Dallas Baker had a then career-high seven receptions and 123 receiving yards plus a 15-yard scoring reception from quarterback Chris Leak as Florida beat Mississippi State 35-9. The Florida defense, meanwhile, totaled six quarterback sacks, forced three Mississippi State turnovers and also had a pair of safeties.

LAST TIME IN STARKVILLE: In the 2004 season, Mississippi State running back Jerious Norwood scored the game-winning touchdown with 32 second remaining on a 37-yard run that lifted the Bulldogs to a 38-31 victory in Starkville. It was the fourth straight loss for Florida at Mississippi State.

SCHEDULES: The 2009 schedules/results of Florida and Mississippi State:

Florida – Sept. 5 CHARLESTON SOUTHERN (W, 62-3); Sept. 12 TROY (W, 56-6); Sept. 19 TENNESSEE (SEC) (W, 23-13); Sept. 26 at Kentucky (SEC (W, 41-7); Oct. 10 at No. 4 Louisiana State (SEC) (W, 13-3); Oct. 17 ARKANSAS (SEC) (W, 23-20); Oct. 24 at Mississippi State (SEC), 7:30 p.m. (ESPN); Oct. 31 Georgia (SEC) at Jacksonville, 3:30 p.m. (CBS); Nov. 7 VANDERBILT (SEC), TBA (TBD); Nov. 14 at South Carolina (SEC), TBA (TBD); Nov. 21 FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL, 12:30 p.m. (PPV); Nov. 28 FLORIDA STATE, TBA (TBD).

Mississippi State – Sept. 5 JACKSON STATE (W, 45-7); Sept. 12 at Auburn (SEC) (L, 24-29); Sept. 19 at Vanderbilt (SEC) (W, 15-3); Sept. 26 No. 7 LOUISIANA STATE (SEC) (L, 26-30); Oct 3 No. 25 GEORGIA TECH (L, 31-42); Oct. 10 HOUSTON (L, 24-31); Oct. 17 at Middle Tennessee (W, 27-6); Oct. 24 No. 1 FLORIDA, 7:30 p.m. EDT (SEC) (ESPN); Oct; 31 at Kentucky (SEC) (TBD); Nov. 14 ALABAMA (SEC) (TBD); Nov. 21 at Arkansas in Little Rock (TBD); Nov. 28 MISSISSIPPI (SEC) (TBD).

STARTLING LINEUPS: This is how Florida and Mississippi State are expected to match up offense vs. defense and on special teams:

Florida offense: WR 6 Deonte Thompson; WR 11 Riley Cooper; LT 57 Carl Johnson; LG 66 James Wilson or 55 Mike Pouncey; C 56 Maurkice Pouncey; RG 55 Mike Pouncey or 74 Maurice Hurt; RT 76 Marcus Gilbert; TE 81 Aaron Hernandez; QB 15 Tim Tebow; RB 2 Jeff Demps; WR 25 Brandon James; WR David Nelson; FB 45 T.J. Pridemore.

Mississippi State defense: LE 90 Pernell McPhee; LT 95 Kyle Love; RT 92 Charles Burns; RE 93 Brandon Cooper; SLB 34 K.J. Wright; MLB 22 Jamar Chaney; WLB 50 Chris White; LCB 26 Damein Anderson; SS 4 Charles Mitchell; FS 42 Zach Smith or 13 Johnthan Banks; RCB 18 Marcus Washington.

Florida defense: DE 8 Carlos Dunlap or 94 Justin Trattou; DT 99 Omar Hunter; DT 92 Terron Sanders; DE 49 Jermaine Cunningham; SLB 16 A.J. Jones; MLB 41 Ryan Stamper; WLB 40 Brandon Hicks; CB 1 Janoris Jenkins; CB 5 Joe Haden; SS 35 Ahmad Black or 10 Will Hill; FS 21 Major Wright or 10 Will Hill.

Mississippi State offense: X 6 Brandon McRae; H 9 Leon Berry; LT 79 Derek Sherrod; LG 55 Quentin Saulsberry; C 70 J.C. Brignone; RG 75 Craig Jenkins; RT 62 Addison Lawrence; Y 32 Marcus Green; Z 81 O’Neal Wilder; QB 16 Tyson Lee; RB 24 Anthony Dixon.

Florida specialists: PK 19 Caleb Sturgis; KO 19 Caleb Sturgis; PR 25 Brandon James; KR 25 Brandon James and 11 Riley Cooper; P 17 Chas Henry; S 53 Mike Williamson (P) and 59 John Fairbanks (PK); H 17 Chas Henry.

Mississippi State specialists: PK 37 Sean Brauchle or 40 Derek DePasquale; KO ; PR 9 Leon Berry; KR 9 Leon Berry; P38 Heath Hutchins; S 46 Aaron Feld; H 47 Chris Cameron.

TEAM STATISTICS: How Florida and Mississippi State compare:

Points per game: Florida, 36.3 ppg. Mississippi State, 27.4 ppg.

Points allowed per game: Florida, 8.7 ppg. Mississippi State, 24.0 ppg.

Total offense: Florida, 470.5 ypg. Mississippi State, 390.3 ypg.

Total defense: Florida, 228.3 ypg. Mississippi State, 354.7 ypg

Rushing offense: Florida, 259.8 ypg. Mississippi State, 219.0 ypg.

Rushing defense: Florida, 95.0 ypg. Mississippi State, 127.0 ypg.

Passing offense: Florida, 210.7 ypg. Mississippi State, 171.3 ypg.

Passing defense: Florida, 133.3 ypg. Mississippi State, 227.7 ypg.

INDIVIDUAL LEADERS: These are the top individuals for Florida and Arkansas in each statistical category:

Rushing: Florida, Jeff Demps 53-444, 8.4 average, 5 TD; Tim Tebow 99-378, 3.8 average, 5 TD; Chris Rainey 41-278, 6.8 average, 2 TD; Emmanuel Moody 27-237, 8.8 average, 0 TD. Mississippi State, Anthony Dixon 134-696-5.2-7; Christian Ducre 40-240-6.0-1; Chris Relf 33-198-6.0-1; Tyson Lee 45-168-3.7-2

Passing: Florida, Tim Tebow 71-110-2, 65.5 percent, 1,032 yards, 8 TD; John Brantley 22-30-0, 73.3 percent, 232 yards, 4 TD. Mississippi State, Tyson Lee 87-149-6, 58.4 percent, 981 yards, 3 TD; Chris Relf 15-26-2, 57.7 percent, 213 yards, 3 TD.

Receiving: Florida, Aaron Hernandez 28-360, 12.9 average, 2 TD; Riley Cooper 23-333, 14.5 average, 3 TD. Mississippi State, Chad Bumphis 23-267, 11.6 average, 3 TD; Marcus Green 18-238, 13.2 average, 2 TD; Leon Berry 14-170, 12.1 average, 0 TD.

Scoring: Florida, Caleb Sturgis 10-12 FG, 12-12 PAT, 42 points; Jeff Demps 5 TD, 30 points; Tim Tebow 5 TD, 30 points; Riley Cooper 3 TD, 18 points; Riley Cooper 3 TD, 18 points; Deonte Thompson 3 TD, 18 points. Mississippi State, Anthony Davis 7 TD-42 points; Sean Brauchle 6-9 FG, 12-12 PAT, 30 points; Chad Bumphis 4 TD-24 points; Derek DePasuale 4-5 FG, 10-10 PAT, 22 points.

Kickoffs: Florida, Caleb Sturgis 43-2703, 62.9 average. Mississippi State, Sean Brauchle 23-1469, 63.9 average; Derek DePasuale 14-824, 58.9 average.

Punts: Florida, Chas Henry 14-543, 38.8 average. Mississippi State, Heath Hutchins 30-1212, 40.4 average.

Punt returns: Florida, Brandon James, 14-50, 3.6 average, 0 TD; Frankie Hammond Jr. 3-16, 5.3 average, 0 TD. Mississippi State, Leon Berry 8-67, 8.4 average, 0 TD; Patrick Hanrahan 1-27, 27.0 average, 0 TD.

Kickoff returns: Florida, Brandon James 13-373, 28.7 average, 1 TD; T.J. Lawrence 2-69, 34.5 average, 0 TD. Mississippi State, Leon Berry 21-553, 26.3 average, 1 TD; Chad Bumphis 5-127, 25.4 average, 0 TD.

Interceptions: Florida, Janoris Jenkins 2-4, 2.0 average, 0 TD; Joe Haden 2-0, 0.0 average, 0 TD; Major Wright 2-33, 16.5 average, 0 TD. Mississippi State, Corey Broomfield 3-54, 18.0 average, 1 TD; Charles Mitchell 2-88, 44.0 average, 1 TD; Johnthan Banks 2-25, 12.5 average, 0 TD.

Tackles (UT-AT): Florida, Ahmad Black 13-20; Ryan Stamper 13-20; Brandon Spikes 14-18; Joe Haden 25-7; A.J. Jones 9-16. Mississippi State, K.J. Wright 27-20; Jamar Chaney 20-26; Chris White 26-16.

Tackles for loss: Florida, Jermaine Cunningham 6.0-20; Brandon Spikes 4.5-18. Mississippi State, Pernell McPhee 6.0-23; Chris White 3.5-16; K.J. Wright 3.5.-11; Fletcher Cox 3.5-9.

Quarterback sacks: Florida, Brandon Spikes 3.0-16; Jermaine Cunningham 3.0-17. Mississippi State, Pernell McPhee 2.5-12; Jamar Chaney 1.5-14.

GATORCOUNTRY.COM: As usual, we will have game coverage, before, during and after the final gun – stories, photos, interviews and statistics downloaded as they are produced. In addition, Gator Country is your source for news about the Gators on television, radio and in print. The Gator Country Television Show (GCTV) airs Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 4 and 6:30 p.m. and 11 a.m. Saturdays on Cox Cable Channel 15 in Gainesville and Ocala. GCTV can be seen on Saturdays at 8:30 a.m. on ESPN2 in the Gainesville and Ocala. Buddy Martin, Franz Beard, Brady Ackerman, Justin Wells and Laura McKeeman participate on the GCTV show. Franz Beard is the host for the Internet TV show “Franz and Friends” on Mondays at 8 p.m., while Wells and McKeeman are the hosts for Insider Recruiting Thursdays at 8 p.m. Martin and Co. also take part on “The Morning Drive with Brady Ackerman and Mark McLeod” from 7-9 a.m. Mondays through Fridays on ESPN Radio in Ocala (900 AM, 100.1 FM) and Gainesville (1230 AM). Finally, you will be able to purchase the newly designed and improved Gator Country Magazine on newsstands throughout the state (Publix, Winn-Dixie, WalMart, Books-A-Million, Barnes and Noble) beginning with our October issue with Urban Meyer on the cover. For more information how you can join and get your daily Orange and Blue fix, check out our website at

TV: ESPN (Brad Nessler, play-by-play; Todd Blackledge, color analyst; Erin Andrews, sidelines) has the telecast.

TV REPLAYS: Sun Sports replays the game at 8:30 Sunday morning with its “Breakfast with the Gators” show and also replays the game Tuesday, Oct. 27 at 11 p.m. Calling the game are David Steele (play-by-play), Brady Ackerman (color analyst) and Steve Babik (sidelines).

RADIO: Florida broadcast (Mick Hubert, play-by-play; Lee McGriff, color; Steve Babik, sidelines; Scot Brantley and Travis McGriff, pre-game) is from the Gator Radio Network. Pre-game show starts at 4:30 p.m.; post-game show concludes 60 minutes after game. WFXJ-AM 930 (Jacksonville) is flagship station; affiliates are WCNN-AM 680 (Atlanta, Ga.), WALR-AM 1340 (Atlanta, Ga.), WFOM-AM 1230 (Atlanta, Ga.), WWBF-AM 1130 (Bartow), WPHK-FM 102.7 (Blountstown), WWJB-AM 1450 (Brooksville), WMEL-AM 1300 (Cocoa), WXCV-FM 95.3 (Crystal River), WDCF-AM 1350 (Dade City), WWCN-AM 770 (Fort Myers), WRUF-FM 103.7 (Gainesville), WRUF-AM 850 (Gainesville), WKWF-AM 1600 (Key West), WUCR-FM 107.9 (Lake Butler), WNFB-FM 94.3 (Lake City), WDSR-AM 1340 (Lake City), WONN-AM 1230 (Lakeland), WINZ-AM 940 (Miami), WSBB-AM 1230 (New Smyrna Beach), WMOP-AM 900 (Ocala), WMOP-FM 100.1 (Ocala), WOKC-AM 1570 (Okeechobee), WOKC-FM 100.9 (Okeechobee), WFLF-AM 540 (Orlando), WIYD-AM 1260 (Palatka), WYYX-FM 97.7 (Panama City), WTKE-FM 98.1 (Pensacola), WPSL-AM 1590 (Port St. Lucie), WLSS-AM 930 (Sarasota), WSJZ-FM 99.5 (Sebastian), WWTK-AM 730 (Sebring), WAOC-AM 1420 (St. Augustine), WSTU-AM 1450 (Stuart), WQTL-FM 106.1 (Tallahassee), WDAE-AM 620 (Tampa-St. Petersburg), WJNO-AM 1290 (West Palm Beach). The game also is available (via the Gator Radio Network) on Sirius Satellite Radio 121 and XM Satellite Radio 141. Mississippi State Radio Network broadcast is by Jack Cristil (play-by-play), Jim Ellis (color analyst) and John Correro (sidelines) with WFCA-FM (107.9) the flagship station in Starkville. The Mississippi State Radio Network broadcast is also available on Sirius Satellite Radio (Ch. 215) and XM Satellite Radio (Ch. 199(.

STATISTICS: Game play-by-play and statistics are delayed but refreshed continually during the game on GameTracker, and