Missouri vs. Florida preview

Now that the drama with LSU has been settled, Florida must now turn its focus on Missouri as the Gators will look to stay alive in the SEC East race.

Florida Gator mascots Albert and Alberta make rounds an wave to the crowd at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in September of 2004.

The No. 18 Florida Gators welcome the Missouri Tigers into Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday. The Gators had an unexpected bye last week due to the cancellation of their game with LSU. Missouri is also coming off a bye week so both teams will be well rested.

So far this season, the Tigers have yet to win a game in the conference. In its last game, Missouri was soundly beaten by Ed Orgeron’s LSU Tigers, 42-7. Missouri played well against Georgia earlier in the season despite a narrow loss, meaning the Tigers may be able to give the Gators a good contest.

On the other hand, Florida still have only one loss on the season. The Gators gave up 38 straight points in Knoxville, which allowed the Vols’ to comeback and win after trailing by 21. The Gators followed the loss to Tennessee with a very lackluster win in Nashville against Vanderbilt. The Gators barely defeated the bottom-dwellers of the SEC, 13-6.

Missouri is led at quarterback by sophomore Drew Lock. Lock has had decent year so far, throwing for 1675 yards and 14 touchdowns. The weakness of Missouri’s offense, though, is the run game. Junior Ish Witter leads the team with only 257 yards on the season.

Austin Appleby has been starting for the Gators, but Luke Del Rio — the team’s original starter — has been back practicing with the first team this week. Del Rio had thrown for 762 yards and six scores before his injury in Florida’s win against North Texas. With Del Rio likely returning, all-SEC receiver Antonio Callaway will be an even bigger threat for Missouri’s secondary.

For the Tigers to have a chance, they will need to be able to move the ball on offense. The defense for the Gators is unquestionably the strength of their team — they come into this game as the nation’s second-ranked defense. The Tigers were unable to move the ball against an LSU defense that has similar talent to the Gators. The key to the game for Missouri is the rushing attack. If the Tigers are able to run the ball, they should be able to open up the field for Drew Lock to make plays.

The key to the game for the Gators is the offense. The Gators’ defense will do its job, but the offense has been inconsistent. The defense was stout against Vanderbilt, but because of the inept play by the Gators on offense, they nearly lost the game. Luke Del Rio coming back should certainly help Florida. If the Gators are able to be consistent on offense, they should be able to win in comfortable fashion.

Prediction

The Gators defense will be too much to overcome for Missouri. Luke Del Rio will provide a spark for the offense, but they will still show inconsistencies. Florida starts slow but finishes strong, winning 24-10.

Edited by Adam Milliken

Featured image courtesy of Creative Commons