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Saturday, September 27, 2008
Gators latest top-five team to fall

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

 
 Kim Klement/US Presswire
 Before losing to Ole Miss on Saturday, the Florida Gators had won 21 of their last 22 games in the Swamp.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach

Are we headed to a repeat of last season?

For the second time in three days, a top-five ranked team has fallen to an unranked team. Two days after Oregon State stunned No. 1 USC 27-21, unranked Ole Miss upset No. 4 Florida, 31-30, in the Swamp on Saturday.

Ole Miss' victory was just as surprising as Oregon State's win because the Gators had been so dominant at home, winning 21 of their last 22 games in the Swamp. Florida had been just as dominant as the Trojans in early-season victories, beating Hawaii, Miami and Tennessee by a combined score of 112-19.

Ole Miss came into the game having lost two of its previous three contests, but never backed down from the Gators. Ole Miss blocked an extra-point attempt with about two and half minutes left to preserve a 31-30 lead, and then stuffed reigning Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow on a fourth-and-1 play at the Rebels 32 with less than a minute to go.

Florida's loss puts No. 3 Georgia -- and, ahem, Vanderbilt -- in the driver's seat in the SEC East. The Bulldogs play No. 8 Alabama tonight at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. If the Bulldogs win their 12th consecutive game, they figure to climb to at least No. 2 in the rankings.

No. 2 Oklahoma plays No. 24 TCU tonight in Norman, Okla.

It was only a matter of time before the Gators' lack of a traditional running game caught up with them. Once again, Florida coach Urban Meyer abandoned any attempts of running the football between the tackles against Ole Miss.

Wide receiver Percy Harvin led the Gators with 10 runs for 82 yards, and Tebow ran 15 times for only seven yards. Five Florida tailbacks combined to run the ball nine times for 36 yards.
The Gators have been too one-dimensional on offense in each of the last two seasons, relying on Tebow to gain tough yard after tough yard. When the Rebels continually stuffed him on Saturday, Meyer had nowhere else to turn.

Florida might be in better position to recover from an early-season loss than USC. The Gators still play three ranked teams -- No. 5 LSU at home on Oct. 11; No. 3 Georgia in Jacksonville, Fla., on Nov. 1 and No. 21 Vanderbilt at home on Nov. 8. Florida could possibly play another ranked team in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta's Georgia Dome if it recovers to win the SEC East.

None of USC's nine remaining opponents are currently ranked.