Key play: Missouri didn’t try to ease redshirt freshman quarterback Maty Mauk into the game, opting instead for a bomb down the sideline on the first snap. It went for a 41-yard completion to senior L’Damian Washington and also led to Gators safety Cody Riggs’ ejection for targeting.
Key stat: Mauk completed five of 10 passes for 80 yards with no interceptions and a 20-yard touchdown to junior Bud Sasser. Making his first college start in place of ailing senior captain James Franklin, Mauk got off to a phenomenal start. He struggled at times, but earned some important confidence early.
Key play: Trying to nurse a 10-point lead going into halftime, Mauk was intercepted near midfield, but junior defensive end Kony Ealy made sure the miscue didn’t haunt Missouri. He crushed Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy, forcing a fumble that helped preserve the Tigers’ 13-3 edge at intermission.
Key stat: Florida averaged 2.1 yards per play in the first half, including a paltry 9 yards rushing in 17 carries. Murphy was seven of 12 for 52 yards, but he was also sacked three times and intercepted once. The Gators managed 62 yards of total offense in 29 plays before intermission.
Key play: With Florida’s offense bogged down, it was going to take something from the special teams or defense to give the Gators a spark. Enter Solomon Patton, who returned the opening kickoff 105 yards (officially, it was 100, but he caught it halfway into the end zone). Of course, Patton’s spark never became a flame.
Key stat: Through three quarters, Missouri owned a 401-135 advantage in total offense. The Tigers had rushed for 139 yards and Mauk became the first quarterback since Franklin last season to throw for more than 200 yards against the Gators. Meanwhile, Florida had 77 yards rushing and 58 passing.
Key play: For the second straight week, sophomore defensive end Shane Ray separated a quarterback from the football with a blindside hit. His sack of Murphy and forced fumble set the stage for Missouri’s final touchdown and helped ice the victory to the delight of a sellout crowd of 67,124.
Key stat: Missouri finished with 500 yards on offense, which is the most Florida has surrendered in a Southeastern Conference game since Kentucky racked up 512 yards on Oct. 20, 2007. The defense only allowed 151 yards, so the Tigers outgained the Gators by 349 yards.
Player of the game: How can it not be redshirt freshman quarterback Maty Mauk? Stepping in for injured senior James Franklin, who has a sprained shoulder, Mauk completed 18 of 36 passes for 295 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The 295 yards were the most for a freshman quarterback in a starting debut and the most Florida has allowed this season by 131 yards.
Reason to hope: Defensive end Michael Sam continues to set the pace for an underrated Missouri defense. Sam recorded three sacks, his third three-sack game of the season, giving him half of the Tigers’ sacks and three of the 11 tackles for a loss. Florida rushed for only 59 yards in 31 carries.
Reason to mope: The stadium can’t hold more people? Really, is there any reason to mope right now for Missouri fans? The Tigers just beat a ranked opponent in consecutive weeks for the first time since 1973 and have a two-game lead in the loss column in the SEC East. Of course, there was the second-half kickoff return TD.
Looking ahead: Missouri not only leads the SEC East, but the Tigers have a pretty comfortable lead after Georgia and South Carolina were upset. Of course, that also means the Gamecocks will be in must-win mode next weekend to keep flickering hopes alive for a berth in the SEC championship game.
Tod Palmer, email@example.com
|A||Offense||Missouri’s staff told anyone who would listen that the game plan didn’t change with Maty Mauk at quarterback. It didn’t, and all the Tigers did was rack up 500 yards and 36 points against the SEC’s best defense statistically. Mauk put in a solid shift, plus the running game topped 200 yards, led by Henry Josey’s 18 carries for 136 yards.|
|A||Defense||Florida put together one drive late in the fourth quarter, a 70-yard march, but managed only 81 total yards in 54 plays aside from that. Let that sink in for a moment. Nine Tigers were in on a tackle for a loss, while the defense also extended its streak with at least one turnover to 37 games.|
|C+||Special teams||On the plus side, kicker Andrew Baggett tied a record with five field goals, but Florida also returned the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown. Punt returner Marcus Murphy muffed a punt, which set up the Gators’ first field goal. Missouri needs more from its return game.|
|A||Coaching||The coaches weren’t scared to trust Mauk with the full playbook and challenged the players around him to elevate their level of play. The offensive line responded by not allowing a sack and paved the way for a 205-yard rushing effort, while Mauk’s receivers made great catches all day.|