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NCAA FOOTBALL SCOREBOARD: Recap
Recap | Box Score | This Week's Scoreboard
Florida 52, Mississippi St. 0
Posted: Saturday September 29, 2001 09:43 PM ET
Mississippi St.
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GAINESVILLE, Florida (Ticker) -- Florida did not get mad. It got even.

Rex Grossman tied a career high with five touchdown passes as the second-ranked Gators avenged last season's only Southeastern Conference loss with a 52-0 rout of Mississippi State.

Grossman, a sophomore, completed 22-of-31 for a personal-best 393 yards in just under three quarters. He become the first quarterback in Florida history with four straight 300-yard passing games, reaching the mark in the first half.

"I think it was incredible that everyone played a great game," Grossman said. "This was one game that the defense just stuffed them and executed great. The Mississippi State defense came in and tried to cover our receivers man-to-man, and that's just stupid."

The Bulldogs came into the game leading the nation in passing defense, allowing only 68 yards per game through the air. Florida more than doubled that in the first quarter alone with 149 yards.

"We just couldn't cover their receivers," Mississippi State coach Jackie Sherrill said. "When that happened, they just got better and better. There are no excuses -- we just didn't play. This is probably the worst we've played defensively."

Mississippi State upset Florida, 47-35, in Starkville last season, ending the Gators' 72-game winning streak against unranked opponents.

But the Bulldogs (1-2, 0-2 SEC West) never had a chance Saturday. Grossman accounted for five touchdowns in the first half -- four through the air -- as the Gators opened a 35-0 lead at the intermission.

Florida recorded its first SEC shutout since blanking Kentucky, 65-0, in 1996. Its last shutout in a non-conference game came against Middle Tennessee on September 9, 2000.

"It was a good victory," Florida coach Steve Spurrier said. "When you play a team that blitzes like they (Mississippi State) do and you get in the shotgun and pitch it all over the place, you've got a chance to score a lot of points."

Brock Berlin got into the act with a 23-yard TD pass to Kelvin Knight with 1:45 remaining in the contest. Berlin completed 7-of-17 for 114 yards as Florida finished with 640 total yards, the most for the Gators against an SEC opponent.

Mississippi State was weakened by the absence of running Dicenzo Miller, who was sidelined after spraining his left ankle in last Thursday's 16-14 loss to South Carolina. Miller rushed for a career-high 156 yards in last year's win over Florida.

Without Miller, the Bulldogs rushed for just 44 yards on 28 carries Saturday.

"You all saw it," Mississippi State quarterback Wayne Madkin said. "As a team, we didn't perform. Hats off to Florida. They came in here with a vengeance and they played A-plus football."

The Gators (4-0, 2-0 East) have scored 200 points in their four games this season, surpassing 500 yards in each one. Grossman already has thrown 15 TD passes.

Mississippi State has not won in Gainesville since 1965, a span of 15 games.

"This was a complete turnaround from last year," Grossman said. "This feels great and I am amazingly proud of everyone."

In last year's loss, Florida was held to minus-78 yards on the ground, the lowest total in school history. On Saturday, they ran for 133 yards.

Mississippi State was held to 214 total yards after gaining 517 in last year's contest, and Bulldogs free safety John Morgan sounded discouraged.

"We're 0-2 in the SEC," he said. "I don't think we have the players. I don't think the newcomers know the role they have to play. We just haven't come together as a team and there's just a bunch of individuals out there."

Still, Spurrier found reason to be critical.

"We scored a lot, but we also left a few points out there," he said. "It wasn't like we were hitting on all cylinders. But I'm proud of the team, proud of everybody. We played pretty hard."

Grossman opened the scoring with a one-yard TD run, then tossed scoring strikes of 20 yards to Reche Caldwell and five yards to Aaron Walker to give the Gators a 21-0 first-quarter lead.

Grossman again found Caldwell for a 14-yard TD, then connected with Taylor Jacobs for 60 yards that made it 35-0 with 2:24 left in the half.

Grossman's final TD was a 16-yarder to Ben Troupe with 5:04 remaining in the third quarter.


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