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Florida vs. Mississippi State set for 6 p.m. kickoff on ESPN

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Dan Mullen’s return is headed for primetime.

Stephen F Austin v Mississippi State
Is it a stereotype if it’s the third result for “Mississippi State fans” in our photo tool?
Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

The hotly-anticipated return of Dan Mullen to Starkville will be aired by ESPN, the SEC announced Sunday.

Kickoff for the first Florida Gators trip to see the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Starkville in nearly a decade will happen at 6 p.m. Eastern on September 29.

Mullen’s return to the city where he transformed Mississippi State from SEC cellar-dweller to a perennial bowl team and occasional national contender from 2009 to 2017 will obviously be the top narrative of next week’s game.

But Florida has some scores to settle in Starkville, where it has won just once this century. In 2009, with Tim Tebow still appearing deeply rusty while returning from a concussion, Florida sweated out a 29-19 win in Starkville that featured two pick-sixes by the Bulldogs, improving its record in the land of the cowbell to 1-2 since 2000. Florida fell in trips to Starkville in 2000 and 2004.

And Florida’s dominance of the SEC since the arrival of Steve Spurrier hasn’t quite extended to Mississippi State. The Gators are 6-4 against the Bulldogs since Spurrier’s first season in 1990, but just 4-4 against them since 1992 and only 3-3 in meetings since 2000.

Florida’s 30-6 loss to Mississippi State in 1992 — once again, in Starkville — was also the only game in the first nine years of Spurrier’s tenure in which the Gators failed to score at least 10 points.

Florida does hold a 33-19-2 record in the all-time series between the teams, and obviously has historical success and status in college football that Mississippi State would like to have, but the Bulldogs should also be heavily favored in this game, with Heisman candidate Nick Fitzgerald poised to have his team undefeated for it, should they hand Kentucky its first loss this coming Saturday.