Gators will have to overcome history to leave Starkville with a win

Dan Mullen at airport

Dan Mullen and the Florida Gators travel to Starkville, MS on Saturday to play his former team, Mississippi State. While Florida and Mississippi State don’t have a storied history, (they haven’t played since 2010), it is hard to overlook one factor about this upcoming game: Florida doesn’t play well in Starkville.

This will be only the sixth appearance by the Gators in Starkville since 1986.

Of those five previous appearances since 1986, Mississippi State has beaten Florida in four of them:

  • Florida lost a hard fought 16-10 game to the Bulldogs back in 1986.
  • Many Gator fans remember the Thursday night massacre back in 1992 where Mississippi State dominated the Gators 30-6. Ever wonder why Florida doesn’t play Thursday night games? This game is why.
  • In 2000, Florida was on the losing side of a 47-35 shootout.
  • In 2004, Ron Zook led the Gators into Starkville, lost that game 38-31 and was fired following that loss.
  • The only time that Florida has won in Starkville over the past 32 years was back in 2009 when Tim Tebow led the team to a tough, 29-19 win.

Fast forward to 2018. The Gators are feeling good about themselves following a 47-21 blowout win at Tennessee. They will once again head to Starkville to play the Bulldogs in Dan Mullen’s return.

Mullen coached Mississippi State for nine seasons, took them to unprecedented heights, and needless to say Mississippi State fans will be fired up to “welcome” him back with cowbells in hand.

Keep in mind that former Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin is also now the Florida athletic director which just adds more fuel to this fire.

Mississippi State is coming off a disappointing 28-7 loss on the road to Kentucky; the Bulldogs are going to be glad to get back to the friendly confines of Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field and have had this game circled since Mullen was introduced in orange and blue.

It is hard to win games on the road in the SEC and it is especially hard to do it in back-to-back weeks. That is what the Gators are looking to accomplish this Saturday.

For whatever reason, the Gators fortunes in Starkville over the past three decades have not been good, we will see if Mullen, who knows it well, can turn those fortunes around.

Florida and Mississippi State are set for a 6:00 PM ET kickoff on Saturday and the game can be seen on ESPN.

(You can follow Ryan Green on Twitter @RyanGreenGN)

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