The Missouri Tigers couldn’t have picked a worse time to travel to Gainesville.
The No. 7 Florida Gators just got knocked off the unbeaten ranks last weekend and will be going for a bounce-back win at home.
The loss to the Georgia Bulldogs was one they would like to forget; nine points and six turnovers told the tale. Besides those two numbers, the Gators (7-1) dominated every other statistical category. Therefore, Will Muschamp will have his team sharp and looking the part of a BCS contender one week later.
The Tigers (4-4), on the other hand, picked up their first SEC win last Saturday versus lowly Kentucky. The Missouri faithful did not expect its first win to come so late in the season, as early losses to South Carolina, Georgia and Vanderbilt lessened expectations for this year.
This Saturday, Missouri continue their first SEC with one rude awakening, which Gators coach Will Muschamp acknowledged this week (via Matt Watts of the Miami Herald):
"Yes it does," Muschamp on Missouri struggling this year proving the difficulty of playing the SEC. #Gators— Matt Watts (@MattWatt5) October 29, 2012
Looking for the spread, total, and game predictions? You’re in the right place.
When: Saturday, November 3rd at 12:00 p.m. ET
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, FL
Listen: Gator IMG Sports Network
Spread: Florida -16 (Bovada)
The two games Missouri has gone road this year to face a Top 10 conference foe, it lost by 21 at South Carolina and 32 at Alabama.
Florida lacks some firepower on the offensive end compared to those two teams, but it could easily dispose of Missouri at home much like it did South Carolina, 41-11, two weeks ago.
The folks in Vegas had this line around -17 when the week started, but it was bet down a point by midweek. Getting that key number makes the favorite enticing, especially coming back home after a sloppy loss.
Expect more money to come in on the Gators before the end of the number, so if you find a 17-point victory to be the endgame, take it while you still can.
Over/Under: 42 (Fox Sports Odds)
Both teams surely play the SEC way, rather grinding out points than with lightning-fast efficiency.
Who Ya Got?
For Missouri, this may be more a quarterback problem than anything else; it has had instability at the position since James Franklin suffered a knee injury a few weeks ago. To take the over, it would be an endorsement of Missouri’s offense above anything else.
The Gators, on the other hand, have no problems running the ball down their opponents throat, which suggests a low-scoring tight game. Keep in mind, though, after Jeff Driskel’s porous game against Georgia, the coaching staff will try to get him back on his feet against a middling Missouri defense.
Missouri Injury Report (via USA Today)
Adam Franklin, OL, Knee—Probable
Jack Meiners, OL, Knee—Out indefinitely
Wesley Leftwich, WR, Foot—Out indefinitely
Travis Ruth, OL, Tricep—Out for season
Taylor Chappell, OL, Knee—Out for season
Henry Josey, HB, Knee—Out for season
Florida Injury Report
Damien Jacobs, DL, Hip—Probable
Leon Orr, DL, Illness—Doubtful
Cody Riggs, DB, Foot—Out indefinitely
Drew Ferris, LS, Collarbone—Out indefinitely
Matt Patchan, OL, Pectoral—Out indefinitely
Michael McNeely, WR, Foot—Out for season
The Gators’ national championship hopes took a serious blow last weekend in a de facto SEC East championship loss to Georgia.
Now Florida will need to win out and hope for a Georgia upset against Ole Miss or Auburn to play in the SEC Championship Game. So, basically, Florida has been eliminated from the national championship race barring unforeseen BCS chaos.
A Sugar Bowl berth, though, looks a likely destination for this team if they can run the table. A convincing win this Saturday and against Florida State in Tallahassee would catapult the Gators back into the Top Five.
Meanwhile, Missouri kissed its BCS hopes goodbye when it lost its first two SEC games against Georgia and South Carolina. They’ll be looking to merely get into a bowl game, as they currently stand at 4-4 with four competitive games left on the schedule.
Keys for Missouri Victory: Attacking the Gators’ Secondary
Besides one 45-yard touchdown, the Gators' secondary shut down Georgia’s passing game last weekend. It just so happened that the touchdown would be the difference in the game.
Florida’s defensive backs have been as sharp as any in the nation; only the Tennessee passing game has been able to test them down the field.
Missouri’s offense has seemed to regress this season, but if it can muster some 2011 magic it can challenge Florida. James Franklin's dual-threat ability cannot be simulated in practice, so if he’s healthy enough to move around he should take the Tigers down the field.
Receivers T.J. Moe and Marcus Lucas could give Franklin some help. Both upperclassmen know how to make plays in the deep third and will challenge Matt Elam and “Pop” Saunders downfield. How much production they will have, however, is yet to be seen.
Keys for Florida Victory: Back to Basics
The Gator offense played as sloppy of a game as it could have played in Jacksonville, scoring only nine points and committing six turnovers.
The Gators will look to do what they do best: run, run and run. Mike Gillislee held the SEC rushing lead at one point this season and that was no fluke. Florida OC Brent Pease will sprinkle in some play-action fakes for quarterback Jeff Driskel to get in on the fun and keep the Tigers off balance.
Getting Driskel back on track must be a priority for the Gators if they want to challenge teams going forward with more than just the running game.
Defensively, there isn’t much to tinker with for the Gators. This unit should be supercharged in the Swamp to keep Missouri off the scoreboard.
All in all, if Florida can avoid beating itself, this game should eventually be in its control.
The Gators will be an angry team that will be fueled by their home crowd—an inopportune time for Missouri to come to Gainesville. The Tigers have had their troubles on the road against conference opponents and that should continue in The Swamp.
Expect a heavy dose of Mike Gillislee in an attempt to wear down the Missouri run defense, as Alabama and South Carolina did in SEC blowouts.
The Tigers will be fortunate to have Franklin back at quarterback, but they won’t be able to move the ball much against this suffocating Gator defense.
Florida 31, Missouri 13