Matchups - UF/Ole Miss

The Gators have a big revenge game this weekend vs the Mississippi Rebels. Last year, the Gators were defeated by a score of 14-17. How will the Gators fare this year? Inside I break down the matchups and offer my prediction on the game. Read on for all the details.

Eli Manning vs the Gator secondary
Manning has been marvelous for the Rebels by completing 98-156 for 1329yds and 11 touchdowns.  He has done this essentially in track meets and with little or no running game.  He has two solid receivers in Chris Collins and Taye Biddle.  He is similar to his brother in that he has a quick release and can find all the receivers.  Last year UF bottled him up with pressure and he was only 18-33 for 154 yards.  The Gator secondary is very good this season and maybe a tad better than last season.  The problem is the linebackers and when the Gators play zone guys are getting lost underneath.  Manning is in a groove and understands how to attack zone defense.
Chris Leak vs the Rebel secondary
Leak is not going to riddle the rebels like Texas Tech did a week ago because he is not as comfortable in his system nor will he throw it as much as the Red Raiders did.  He can however achieve his first 300 yard game if his receivers will help him out.  There has been some shoddy route running at times, especially from the tight end spot and also some drops that could help get the offense going.  Ole Miss will disguise a lot of their coverages but their favorite is cover three or three deep zone.  Leak should be able to find the middle of the field and the intermediate routes.  The corners Travis Johnson and Von Hutchins have good speed but they do not play the ball well in the air.  If the offensive line can protect Leak could have a big day.
Gator offensive line vs Rebel defensive front
The strength of the Rebel defense is it's front with Jesse Mitchell and Charlie Anderson.  The Gators will have to play better than they did against the unorthodox Kentucky Wildcats.  The Rebels will blitz some but UF should be able to recognize the looks.  The Rebels are only giving up 2.5 yards per carry and held Vanderbilt a predominant running team to 109 yards.  A healthy Max Starks would help UF's cause this week.  The running game may struggle again for the Gators.
Gator defensive line vs Rebel offensive line
The Gators have registered 10 sacks the last three games and have gotten the production out of Bobby McCray that they expected.  McCray is finally healthy and along with Darrell Lee and Ray McDonald give the Gators three legitimate opportunities to get after Eli Manning without blitzing.  Charlie Strong will have to blitz and mix thing up but expect Marcus Thomas and Eric Holcombe to continue to contribute in place of the injured Kenny Parker.  Tre Stallings is the best offensive lineman for the Rebels at left tackle.
Special Teams
Ole Miss is very good in kickoff returns leading the SEC at 24.4 yards a return.  The field goal game is solid as well with Jonathan Nichols connecting on 12 of 12 opportunities including a 54 yarder.  The Gators have the edge in punting with Eric Wilbur and the punt return game with Keiwan Ratliff, who leads the SEC with 13.8 per return.  This game may very well come down to special teams and big plays.  The Gators are due to block a punt or kick and it could be the difference.

Ron Zook vs David Cutcliffe:

Cutcliffe has one win in Oxford over Ron Zook and that one win alone may shorten the leash on the Zook tenure.  If Zook wins that game a year ago the Gators play for the SEC Championship in Atlanta and possibly get to a BCS Bowl.  Who would have thought it could happen?  Both coaches really need a win and have comparable winning percentages (Zook .611 % and Cutcliffe .603 %).

Cutcliffe runs the same offense that he did at Tennessee with Peyton Manning and Heath Shuler.  He likes track meets and is 22-5 in games when his team scores 30+ points.  Like Zook his team struggles after the break with his record 5-12 when trailing at halftime.  The other stat that could be a key is turnovers.  Cutcliffe's teams are 13-4 when forcing 3 or more turnovers.  Last season Rex Grossman had 4 interceptions.

Final Thought:

It is a must win for UF after a near disaster a week ago in Lexington.  Chris Leak will face the second consecutive unorthodox defense (4-2-5) in two weeks.  That alone will confuse him to some degree.  I think both teams will struggle to run and the difference will be big plays in the special teams area.

MY PREDICTION: Florida 31-27

Fightin Gators Top Stories