Florida flexes muscles in upset win over No. 3 Ole Miss
Some quick thoughts on Florida’s 38-10 upset win over No. 3 Ole Miss in Week 5.
What it means: With the win, Florida moves to 5-0 on the year and sits alone atop the SEC East. Coupled with Georgia’s drubbing at the hands of Alabama, the Gators could make an argument as the top team in the division. ESPN’s Danny Kanell went so far as to say during halftime that the Gators might be the best team in the entire SEC. The loss for Ole Miss drops them to 4-1 and re-opens the SEC West, leaving LSU and Texas A&M as the lone unbeatens. The division is wide open and the Rebels are still very much alive, provided they can solve some issues on defense and along the offensive line.
What I liked: Florida rallied around a wall of noise courtesy of their fans to “smack around” No. 3 Ole Miss in Gainesville. “Smack around” was Ole Miss’ head coach Hugh Freeze’s halftime description of the … well … smack down that the Gators levied on the Rebels. Florida came out firing and never let up, building a 25-0 lead at the half against an Ole Miss team that had scored in every quarter this year entering the Week 5 matchup. The Gators dominated on offense (355 total yards), defense (328 yards against) and special teams. The win was a complete team effort and was basically a one-sided affair against a team that was thought to be the best in the SEC.
What I didn’t like: Ole Miss lacked composure early on. The Rebels were visibly flustered by a fired-up Ben Hill Griffin Stadium crowd and was out of sync from the opening kickoff. The Florida defense exposed the Rebels’ vulnerable offensive line that sorely missed suspended tackle Laremy Tunsil. Defensively, Gators quarterback Will Grier victimized the Ole Miss linebackers, routinely going after Denzel Nkemdiche and A.J. Moore. Ole Miss was out of sorts from the very beginning and never put up much of a fight. The offense lacked the ability to make any big plays with just one play for more than 20 yards.
Who’s the man: Will Grier is the man. The redshirt freshman quarterback threw for 271 yards, 225 of them in the first half as the Gator built a dominant lead. His four touchdown passes went to four different receivers in Demarcus Robinson (36-yard TD), Brandon Powell (77), Antonio Callaway (15) and Jake McGee (2). Grier was accurate, connecting on 24 of 29 passes, and was deadly on both long, scoring drives and quick-scoring strikes. The most remarkable facet of Grier’s night is that he entered the game battling a stomach bug that affected around two dozen players throughout practice this week.
Key Play: Florida punctuated its first half with a 91-yard drive that ate up 4:30 of the clock and concluded with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Will Grier to Antonio Callaway. The tandem of Grier-to-Callaway is turning into a clutch duo late in halves, after connecting at the end of the Tennessee game for a score last week. Callaway finished with three catches for 30 yards.
What’s Next: Florida defends its unbeaten record on the road, traveling to Columbia to face a 4-1 Missouri team that is coming off a 24-10 win over South Carolina. The Week 6 matchup with the Tigers will be a prelude to an LSU road trip before rounding out the month after a bye week with a home tilt against Georgia.
Ole Miss will play host to New Mexico State in Week 6 before traveling to play Memphis. The Rebels close out the month hosting Texas A&M before going on the road to face Auburn.