Missouri 36, Florida 17: Tigers Control East

Jamie Squire

Missouri is sitting pretty after another statement win in the division.

With chaos ensuing around the division, Missouri kept doing its thing in a comfortable 36-17 home win over Florida.

The biggest advantage for Missouri came along the lines in this game. Michael Sam was dominant from start to finish, abusing Florida RT Tyler Moore and causing several false starts just by existing. The Tiger defensive front spent all game in the Gator backfield, giving Tyler Murphy no time to throw and bottling up the Gators' running game on all but one drive. On the flip side, the MU offensive line paved the way for more than 200 yards rushing, with Henry Josey going for 7.6 yards per rush on 18 carries (136 total).

That line also kept Maty Mauk largely clean, and he played very well for this being his first start. His first drive consisted of two plays, both passes for a combined 61 yards and a touchdown. He had a few inadvisable throws as can be expected from an inexperience guy, with one interception and at least two more throws that went through the arms of defensive backs. Even so, he never lost his poise or cool, and he looks to be a far better fill-in for James Franklin than Corbin Berkstresser was last year.

Meanwhile for Florida, it was just a miserable day on offense. The Gators managed just 3.2 yards per pass and 1.9 yards per rush. The offensive line was entirely overwhelmed by an aggressive Missouri defense, and Murphy and his receivers never made them pay. Two of Florida's three scores came courtesy of a muffed punt by MU (field goal) and a kickoff return touchdown. The offense managed just one competent drive, one on which freshman Kelvin Taylor went for 52 yards on five carries. He touched the ball once the rest of the way.

Florida's defense also looks nothing like it once did with many key players out. The front in particular was just not very good, with Dominique Easley out for the season and Ronald Powell and Damien Jacobs out for the game. The upshot was that Mizzou could run whenever it wanted. The best example is that the Tigers ran out of the Pistol formation every time they lined up in it, and it still worked all game including a 50-yard run by Josey in the second half. The Gators also lost veteran defensive back Cody Riggs on a targeting ejection on the game's first play, weakening its undersized secondary's ability to battle Mizzou's big receivers.

With South Carolina losing to Tennessee and Georgia falling to Vanderbilt, Missouri now has a two-game lead over everyone else in the East division. It also owns the tiebreaker over Georgia and Florida, and it can basically sew up the thing by beating South Carolina at home next week.

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