The Florida Gators (4-1, 2-1) knocked off the 23rd ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs (3-2, 0-2) 13-6 in a defensive struggle on Saturday evening in Starkville, Mississippi.
For Gators head coach Dan Mullen, it was his first trip back to Starkville to face his former team, as he was the Bulldogs head coach from 2009-2017. Though he consistently attempted to deflect the attention away from himself, it was a key storyline for a Mississippi State team ranked number twenty-three and hoping to make some noise in the SEC.
The Bulldogs struck first in this game when Jace Christmann hit a 34 yard field goal in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Evan McPhereson hit a 39-yard field goal for the Gators to tie the game at 3-3 before Chrsitmann hit a 39-yard shot of his own late in the second quarter to give the Bulldogs a 6-3 halftime lead.
The Gators came through in the third quarter with what would prove to be the game's only touchdown. Florida put together a 73 yard, six play drive than culminated in Moral Stephens grabbing a 20-yard touchdown on a trick play to take a 10-6 lead. When the Gators added a 21 yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter, that would prove to be all the offense Florida would need to hang on to the 13-6 win.
Feleipe Franks went 22-for-31 with 219 yards and no touchdowns and one interception in the winning effort for Florida. Lamical Perine led the Gators with 55 yards on the ground, while Josh Hammond led the way through the air with 47 yards receiving. For Mississippi State, Nick Fitzgerald went 11-for-28 with just 98 yards passing against a Gators defense that was stifling throughout.
The Gators return to action next Saturday when they host fifth-ranked LSU in Gainesville. Kickoff from the Swamp is scheduled for 3:30 PM on Saturday and can be heard throughout Tampa Bay on 620 WDAE & 95.3 FM.