Despite the fact Florida and Missouri are each ranked in the Top 25 entering their matchup on Saturday, they will both be led by backup quarterbacks.
Tigers quarterback James Franklin was knocked out of the last game with a separated shoulder and will miss an estimated six games. Maty Mauk came in and held on for the win against Georgia, although he will be asked to do more in this game.
Meanwhile, the Gators have had more experience with their second-string quarterback after Jeff Driskel went down with a broken leg in Week 3 of the season. Junior Tyler Murphy has seen mixed results in his four games as the quarterback.
Still, the question remains: Who will do a better job of leading the offense in the upcoming battle between two of the top teams in the SEC East? Here is a look at what to expect out of each side.
While Mauk might lack experience at this level, he still knows how to play the position very well. He has a strong arm and enough athleticism to make things happen with his legs.
Additionally, he appears to have a lot of confidence going into his first start. According to ESPN's Edward Aschoff, the quarterback recently said, "I'm not the type to get nervous... I usually get a little hyped."
He will need this type of confidence when he goes against one of the top defenses in the nation.
The good news is that he will not have to do it all himself. Mizzou ranks 16th in the country with an average of 239.3 rushing yards per game. While Franklin played a significant role in this success, the three-headed monster of Russell Hansbrough, Henry Josey and Marcus Murphy at running back should help a lot.
LSU used this strategy to beat Florida a week ago, running the ball 39 times while senior quarterback Zach Mettenberger only threw 19 passes all game. If an experienced player like this can be held to a season-low in pass attempts, there is no reason Mauk should be forced to throw the ball.
Of course, he will also have help in the passing game in the form of some of the best receivers in the country. L'Damian Washington, Marcus Lucas and Dorial Green-Beckham have great size and could give the Gators' elite cornerbacks some trouble.
Expect a heavy dose of running followed by some deep play-action passes where the receivers get a chance to go up and make a play on the ball.
While the Tigers are not going to reach their season average of 45.7 points per game, they can still top 20 in this showdown.
After two incredibly efficient games against Kentucky and Arkansas, Murphy struggled at quarterback against LSU. He only totaled 115 passing yards on 27 attempts as he could not move the ball down the field.
To make matters worse, the offense will have to survive without running back Matt Jones, who was declared out for the season with a knee injury.
Mack Brown (not the Texas coach) has been capable as a backup, but he is not the type of player to break many big runs. After rushing for 112 yards in the first game, he is only averaging 45.6 yards per game since on 3.5 yards per carry.
His biggest run in that stretch was for 13 yards.
This puts even more pressure on Murphy against the definition of a bend-but-don't-break defense. Although Missouri ranks 83rd in total yards allowed, the squad is tied for the NCAA lead with 13 interceptions this season.
If the coaching staff allows Murphy to throw the ball down the field, it could lead to multiple turnovers that could cost them the game.
The best chance the Gators have offensively is to find a way to get the ball into the hands of Trey Burton and Solomon Patton on short passes and hope they can do enough to break big plays on their own.
Unfortunately, this might not be enough to overcome a quality opponent on the road.
Like most Florida games this season, this matchup will be relatively low scoring. However, Missouri has the playmakers on the offensive end to get into the end zone a few times.
On the other hand, the Gators will once again struggle to move the football and will have to hope for a few big plays from the receivers. This will not lead to consistent success, and they will fall short.
Score: Missouri 24, Florida 13
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