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Florida vs. Mississippi, Game Thread, first half: Can the Gators pull an upset?

Florida's a true touchdown underdog for the first time this fall. Will the Gators thrive in their unfamiliar role?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Forget about The Promise. Forget about 2008. Forget about Florida "owing" Mississippi a win over a very good Rebels team to pay back the folks from Oxford for their wins over Florida in 2008, 2003, and 2002.

Forget about the flu, that most convenient excuse for lowered expectations for a program whose coach has been talking about how the Rebels should beat the heck out of his Gators since just hours after those Gators staged their first upset over a conference foe at The Swamp this fall.

Forget, even, about that fourth quarter last week — it was unsustainable, for one, and only helped Florida's showing against Tennessee look like a decent performance when viewed holistically.

Tonight's game is between the 2015 Mississippi Rebels and the 2015 Florida Gators — and the Rebels look like the better team.

The passing offense triggered by Chad Kelly is maybe the best one in the SEC, and Laquon Treadwell is just one of a few players who could be mismatches even against Florida's vaunted secondary. (Evan Engram against Marcus Maye? Watch out.) The Mississippi running game might not do too much against Florida's defensive front, given that Tennessee's ability to do things against the rugged Gators front was predicated on Joshua Dobbs running, something Kelly will almost certainly not do.

Florida might be able to throw on Mississippi, with Antonio Callaway emerging and Demarcus Robinson still seeking a breakout game under Jim McElwain, but Robert Nkemdiche matches up so well with the soft underbelly that is the interior of the Gators' offensive line that he might foul up Florida's plans to both run and pass.

And Mississippi's been fine on special teams. Florida's special teams units would be fined for poor performance if they professionals.

Simply: Mississippi is pretty darned good, and matches up well against Florida, which is merely good. This game has looked like a loss almost since it was scheduled, and it looks like one today.

That doesn't mean Florida doesn't (and Florida fans shouldn't) have hope — a few turnovers from a defense that hunts for them could make things go surprisingly well tonight — but it does mean we need to look at this game realistically. And it also means that any live commenting on the game, especially the sort mixed with alcohol or other mood-altering substances, might be vociferously negative.

We had that last week — in a game that Florida won — and it drove off members of a community that has plenty of room for honest observations, but little for spite and spittle. I'm not going to be around in person for this Game Thread, but leli is — and she's empowered to eject those who would derail a conversation with anything so objectionable that it amounts to trolling.

As always, yes, go Gators. But tonight, you're either going to have to get a grip on your assessments or deal with being booted from this fine establishment.