Week 8 - Florida at Missouri

Posted Oct 16, 2013

Week 8 Fearless Prediction & Preview - Florida at Missouri

- Georgia at Vanderbilt | South Carolina at Tennessee
- Florida at Missouri | Auburn at Texas A&M
- LSU at Ole Miss | Arkansas at Alabama

Florida (4-2) at Missouri (6-0) Oct. 19 12:21, SEC TV/ESPN3

Why You Should Give A Hoot: And then there was one. Everything is setting up absolutely perfectly for Missouri – the lone unbeaten team in the SEC East - to come up with a dream season and show everyone that yeah, it can do more than just take up space and provide a few nice TV markets for the league. Of course, beating Georgia on October 12th isn't quite the same as beating Georgia on September 7th, but even a win over an injury-riddled Bulldog team is impressive – any SEC road win is impressive. But now it really is Show Me time.

The Tigers have been terrific offensively when needed, while the defense has been as aggressive and disruptive as any in the conference. The loss of quarterback James Franklin to a shoulder injury has tempered the excitement a bit, but with Florida and South Carolina each coming to Columbia in the next two weeks, and the regular-season ender against Texas A&M also at home, this is it. The Tigers might not have a better chance to do something special.

Meanwhile, Florida just keeps limping along.

The Gator defense has been phenomenal, but with starting quarterback Jeff Driskel lost for the year weeks ago, and now with its best running back, Matt Jones, done with a knee injury, it's going to be a rough go. This is a good enough, strong enough team to come up with a few excellent wins to screw up a few seasons, but with this game, Georgia, at South Carolina and Florida State still to deal with, the final record might not be pretty.

Now we all get to see if Missouri can handle a real defense. No. 3 in the nation in total defense, third in pass defense, second in pass efficiency defense and fourth against the run, Florida is going to give the Tigers all they can handle.

Why Florida Might Win: If Florida was ever going to turn the passing game loose, this would be the week. It's not in the team's nature, considering it wins on defense and a power running game, but the Tigers are getting lit up through the air by teams pressing to keep up the pace. Mizzou's top corner, E.J. Gaines, left the Georgia game with a quad injury, but even with him the pass defense struggled, allowing 290 yards and three scores to Georgia, 338 yards to Vanderbilt, 318 to Arkansas State and 377 to Indiana. Tyler Murphy has shown the ability to come up with a few big plays here and there, throwing for 240 yards and three scores against Arkansas, and hitting 83% of his passes against Kentucky, and now he has to let it rip. His mobility and playmaking skills could give Mizzou a hard time, but …

Why Missouri Might Win: Missouri's defensive line is ripping up backfields. Michael Sam has ten tackles for loss on the season and became close, personal friends with Aaron Murray last week. The Tigers are outstanding when it comes to getting behind the line and generating pressure, and while the pass defense is giving up yards in chunks, it's also benefitting from the disruption with lots and lots of interceptions, picking off 13 on the year. Missouri is fourth in the nation and leads the SEC in turnover margin; Florida is sunk if it doesn't win this category.

Who To Watch Out For: America, welcome to Maty Mauk. The Tigers, especially the receivers, don't appear to be all that concerned about turning the season over to a relatively untested rookie. The Missouri freshman stepped in for an injured James Franklin and closed out the win by hitting all three of his passes for 23 yards and running for 12 yards. It might not seem like much, but he got the job done in the clutch. The 6-1, 200-pound dual-threat playmaker has a cannon for an arm and unquestionable moxie. The two-time Gatorade Ohio Player of the Year was high school bomber, but he was also a track star with superior athleticism and speed. Other than his size, he has phenomenal tools, and this offseason he was good enough to make a push for the starting job.

- Matt Jones might be Florida's best back, but because he missed time sick, Mack Brown is the team's leading rusher with 340 yards. However, he hasn't been able to crank up big yards in chunks failing to average four yards per carry since the opener against Toledo. While the one-time super recruit can run, and he's a talent, he's not the blocker that Jones is. That's going to be a problem against the Mizzou pass rush.

- Florida is dead last in the SEC in penalties and penalty yards per game with 47 for 368 yards on the year. By comparison, Missouri has committed 30 penalties for 231 yards with ten of the sins coming last week against Georgia.

- This is the furthest north Florida has travelled to play a game since losing at Syracuse 38-21 on September 21st, 1991. Before that? Rutgers in 1965, and before that, at Northwestern in a 24-14 win on September 18th, 1965. Before that? At 13-12 loss at Maryland in 1941 – before Pearl Harbor. This game is the 4th-most northern game Florida has played since WWII.

What Will Happen: Mauk will be the talk of the college football world next week. He won't put up huge numbers against the tremendous Florida D, but he'll be effective enough and efficient enough to lead the way to a big win, and then the spotlight will be fully focused on the Tigers' game with South Carolina.

Prediction: Missouri 26 … Florida 23
Line: Florida -3 o/u: 44
Must See Rating: (5 Bad Grandpa – 1 Vanilla Ice Goes Amish) … 4.5
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