Mizzou Prepares to Take On No. 8 Florida
GAINESVILLE, FL -- For Florida, the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division could be at stake on Saturday as the No. 8 ranked Gators host SEC newcomer, Mizzou. For Missouri, Saturday will represent a chance to build on its first conference victory. Florida needs to win and have Georgia lose one of its remaining games against Ole Miss or Auburn to clinch the East.
The game will be a match-up where Florida's offensive line vs. Missouri's defensive front will be the keys. The Gators got whipped in the trenches in a 17-9 loss to Georgia last week, giving up five sacks and managing a season-low 81 yards rushing. The line has to play better, and the Tigers are no easy matchup. Mizzou has 19 sacks, most of them by a D-line that features Sheldon Richardson, Kony Ealy, Michael Sam and Brad Madison.
Fans will want to keep their eyes on Missouri quarterback James Franklin, who has missed time this season because of shoulder and knee injuries, came off the bench last week to help the Tigers beat Kentucky. Coach Gary Pinkel says Franklin will start against the Gators, but his mobility could be tested against Florida's defensive speed.
For Florida, running back Mike Gillislee is averaging just 60 yards on the ground the last three weeks. The Gators need to get him going to spark a lackluster offense.
The only meeting between the teams came in the 1966 Sugar Bowl. The Tigers led 20-0 before the Gators charged back in the fourth quarter. Steve Spurrier threw two TD passes and ran for a score in an 11-minute span. Florida probably would have won had coach Ray Graves called for extra points after those TDs. Instead, Florida failed to make all three 2-point conversions, and Missouri won 20-18.
Missouri is making its third road trip of the season and second to the Sunshine State. The Tigers beat UCF 21-16 in late September. Mizzou, which lost at South Carolina, finishes the SEC slate on the road against Florida, Tennessee and Texas A&M. Florida is 4-0 at home this season and hasn't allowed a touchdown in three SEC games at The Swamp.