Key play: With Missouri’s offense struggling and lacking confidence, senior Marcus Murphy provided the perfect start for the Tigers. He returned the opening kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown and set a Missouri record with his sixth career return touchdown.
Key stat: Missouri was plus-two in the turnover department. After failing to create a takeaway in the last three games, the Tigers’ defense recovered two first-quarter fumbles, one by Lucas Vincent and the other by Michael Scherer after Kentrell Brothers jarred the ball from Gators quarterback Treon Harris on a bone-rattling sack. The second led to an MU touchdown.
Key play: Senior safety Braylon Webb intercepted Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel and returned the ball to the Gators’ 5-yard line. Sophomore defensive tackle Harold Brantley pressured Driskel, and it led to a 34-yard Andrew Baggett field goal for a 20-0 halftime lead.
Key stat: Missouri only had 99 yards of offense in the first half, but that was 150 percent of Florida’s production (33 passing yards, 33 rushing yards) in the first half.
Key play: Pick a defensive touchdown. Junior defensive end Shane Ray’s sack and strip was picked up by senior defensive end Markus Golden for a 21-yard fumble-return touchdown. Senior linebacker Darvin Ruise later added a 46-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Key stat: Murphy returned a punt 82 yards for a touchdown, and became the first player in Missouri history with a kickoff return touchdown and a punt return touchdown in the same game.
Key play: Missouri’s Harold Brantley blocked an extra point after Florida scored a touchdown in the closing minute of the game. It was a fitting exclamation point in a dominating win.
Key stat: Florida had 131 of its 283 total yards of offense in the fourth quarter after the game was well out of hand.
Player of the game: Missouri senior Marcus Murphy became the first player in program history with a kickoff return touchdown and a punt return touchdown in the same game. He also added a 5-yard touchdown run. Murphy’s seven career kickoff and punt return touchdowns are a Tigers record as well.
Reason to hope: Since coughing up a late lead in a 31-27 loss against Indiana, a game Missouri was without senior defensive end Markus Golden, the Tigers’ defense has played very well against South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Defensive tackle Harold Brantley, who had six tackles with a sack and a pressure that led to an interception, is becoming a star.
Reason to mope: The offense remains a mess. Quarterback Maty Mauk and company managed only 99 yards in the first half, of which 20 yards came through the air. Most weeks, the Tigers’ meager 119 yards of offense simply won’t cut it.
Looking ahead: After spoiling Florida’s homecoming, Missouri plays host to Vanderbilt for its own homecoming and can become bowl eligibile with a win against the hapless Commodores.
| Tod Palmer, email@example.com
Missouri got the win, but 119 yards? Seriously, the Tigers only managed 119 yards, including 99 in the first half. It was a third straight tough game for Maty Mauk, who didn’t complete a pass after halftime.
That’s a bad Florida offense, but Missouri made it look clownish. The Gators picked up 131 garbage yards in the fourth quarter with a game already decided.
Marcus Murphy’s 96-yard kickoff return touchdown to open the game set the tone. He added a punt-return touchdown, too. Meanwhile, the Tigers’ kick coverage was good, and both punter Christian Brinser and kicker Andrew Baggett had strong performances.
There were some designed rollouts and other tweaks to help the pass protection and get Mauk away from pressure. It didn’t make much difference in production, but the defense and special teams were outstanding.