When/where: 11:21 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Columbia
TV/radio: KSMO (Ch. 62); KMBZ (980 AM, 98.1 FM)
The series: Tied 1-1
The line: Florida by 3
MISSOURI (6-0, 2-0 SEC)
|Aug. 31||Murray State||W, 58-14|
|Sept. 7||Toledo||W, 38-23|
|Sept. 21||at Indiana||W, 45-28|
|Sept. 28||Arkansas State||W, 41-19|
|Oct. 5||at Vanderbilt||W, 51-28|
|Oct. 12||at Georgia||W, 41-26|
|Oct. 26||South Carolina||6 p.m.|
|Nov. 9||at Kentucky||TBA|
|Nov. 23||at Mississippi||TBA|
|Nov. 30||Texas A&M||TBA|
FLORIDA (4-2, 3-1 SEC)
|Aug. 31||Toledo||W, 24-6|
|Sept. 7||at Miami||L, 21-16|
|Sept. 21||Tennessee||W, 31-17|
|Sept. 28||at Kentucky||W, 24-7|
|Oct. 5||Arkansas||W, 30-10|
|Oct. 12||at LSU||L, 17-6|
|Saturday||at Missouri||11:21 a.m.|
|Nov. 2||vs. Georgia*||2:30 p.m.|
|Nov. 16||at South Carolina||TBA|
|Nov. 23||Georgia Southern||1 p.m.|
|Nov. 30||Florida State|
*at Jacksonville, Fla.
What’s at stake
With a win, Missouri, which beat Florida in the 1966 Sugar Bowl, almost certainly will debut in the top 10 when the first BCS rankings are released Sunday. Most projections have the Tigers in the top 10 anyway, but a win against Florida would bolster that case and probably move coach Gary Pinkel’s team into the top 10 in the human polls as well. Plus, it would be one giant step closer to a Southeastern Conference East Division title.
Cheers if …
Missouri’s passing game doesn’t miss a beat. The Tigers rank third in the SEC, averaging 276.3 yards per game through the air. Losing quarterback James Franklin is a big blow, which puts a preimium on Missouri’s vaunted receivers — notably seniors L’Damian Washington and Marcus Lucas along with sophomore Dorial Green-Beckham — to win one-on-one battle with a very good Gators secondary and help Maty Mauk.
Jeers if …
Missouri’s defense can’t hold Florida in check. The Gators average 21.8 points, which ranks 102nd in the nation and ahead of only Kentucky in the SEC, and lost starting running back Matt Jones for the season (torn meniscus) this week. Quarterback Tyler Murphy struggled against LSU, so Missouri should go after him and try to crush his already shaky confidence.
Three things about Florida
1 Florida hasn’t given up more than 24 points in a Southeastern Conference game in more than two years, a span of 16 games. The last time Gators allowed more than 24 points in SEC play was Oct. 8, 2011, at LSU. Only three opponents have even reached 20 points, and none since Tennessee on Sept. 15, 2012.
2 With its stout defense and a reliance on the run, 274 rushing plays and only 143 pass attempts, Florida dominates time of possession. The Gators lead the nation, averaging 37 minutes, 4 seconds of possession (61.8 percent).
3 Quarterback Tyler Murphy, who took over when Jeff Driskel suffered a broken fibula Sept. 21 against Tennessee, had sparkled against the Volunteers, Kentucky and Arkansas. But against LSU last week, he was 15 of 27 for only 115 yards.
Missouri’s run defense vs. Florida’s rushing offense: It’s no mystery what the Gators will try to do, even without Matt Jones. The Tigers are going to get a heavy dose of junior Mack Brown and freshman Kelvin Taylor, the son of former Florida and Jacksonville Jaguars star Fred Taylor. Missouri ranks third in the SEC against the run, allowing fewer than 130 yards per game, a trend that must continue.
|DE||6||Dante Fowler Jr.||6-3||266||So.|
|CB||1||Vernon Hargreaves III||5-11||192||Fr.|
Tod Palmer’s pick: Missouri 24-20
Missouri is tied for fourth in the nation in turnover margin and has created at least one turnover in 36 consecutive games. If Missouri wins the turnover battle again, it will mean quarterback Maty Mauk protected the football and made good decisions in his first college start. And if he does that, the Tigers probably find a way to win.
Tod Palmer, firstname.lastname@example.org