University of Missouri

Three-minute preview: Missouri football at No. 18 Florida

Florida quarterback Austin Appleby.
Florida quarterback Austin Appleby. The Associated Press

When/where: 3 p.m. Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla.

TV/radio: SEC Network; KMBZ (98.1 FM)

The series: Missouri leads 3-2

The line: Florida by 13 1/2

What’s at stake

Pride for Missouri, which was embarrassed 42-7 in its last game on Oct. 1 at LSU. The Tigers want to show that was an anomaly with a more competitive performance, perhaps even an upset of the reigning SEC East champion Gators, in “The Swamp.”

Cheers if ...

Missouri’s poor-tackling defense regroups after allowing a season-worst 418 yards rushing and 634 total yards by LSU. Florida’s offense, which ranks 67th in scoring offense at 28.4 points and 71st in total offense at 407.2 yards per game, is middling even with the expected return of sophomore quarterback Luke Del Rio.

Jeers if ...

Mizzou’s offense stalls again. The Tigers churned out yards and points before halftime against Georgia but have been inefficient and ineffective in the last three halves against Southeastern Conference competition. Sophomore quarterback Drew Lock remains confident the offense can put up points, but it’s show-don’t-tell time and, unfortunately for MU, Florida’s got one of the nation’s premier defenses.

Tod Palmer’s pick: Florida 27-17

Considering the offense’s struggles at LSU, it might be ambitious to think Mizzou will score 17 against a Florida team that, at least statistically, is even better. Optimism rules the day given an extra week to prepare, but it’s still going to be tough for the Tigers to pull a road upset. The Gators also got a week off after their game with LSU was postponed/cancelled.

Three things about Florida

1 Led by cornerbacks Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson, the Gators’ pass defense allows only 139.8 yards per game, which ranks fourth nationally. That’s the same rank for its opponent quarterback rating of 86.37. Florida’s opponent completion percentage is an FBS-best 39 percent, and its 19 sacks are tied for 12th in the country.

2 Florida is 13-0 under second-year coach Jim McElwain against unranked opponents and boasts the same record when allowing fewer than 21 points, including a 4-0 record in 2016.

3 Junior tight end DeAndre Goolsby, a native of Derby, Kan., leads Florida with 22 receptions this season. He also totaled 175 yards and a touchdown.

Key matchup

Florida’s third-down offense vs. Mizzou’s third-down defense: Getting off the field has been a chore for the Tigers, who are allowing a 46.9-percent third-down conversion rate in conference play. Meanwhile, the Gators lead the SEC with a 50.6 third-down conversion rate, which ranks 11th in the FBS.

Tod Palmer: 816-234-4389, @todpalmer

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