Game Time: 4:00 PM EST
TV: SEC Network
Odds: Florida opened as a 13 point favorite and it now sits at 12 (via Oddsshark)
It seems as though every time these two teams meet, one of them ends up embarrassed.
Their first meeting as co-divisional rivals in 2012 was a defensive slog ending in a 14-7 victory for the Gators. Yet, the next two seasons, as the Tigers went to back-to-back SEC Championship games, Mizzou trounced Florida by a combined score of 78-20. Last season’s game in Columbia was another low-scoring affair with the Gators dominating a pretty miserable Missouri offense 21-3.
The 2016 iteration comes back to Gainesville with little trace of a storm to be seen and two fresh teams coming off bye weeks (one planned, the other not so much).
To this point, Missouri has shown in the Barry Odom-Josh Heupel era that they can certainly beat up on the smaller foes (Eastern Michigan and Delaware State), but as it pertains to Power 5 schools, including two SEC games and an opening week match-up with West Virginia, they’ve managed a frosty 45 points total.
Rome wasn’t built overnight and seeing as how the Tigers were at the bottom of every offensive statistical category in 2015, one could find their glass half full.
Heupel is supposed to get them humming, though, and there’s little to no trace of that against meaningful opponents. Their last game against LSU saw them scoreless until late in the second half.
Now, they run into the meat grinder that is Florida’s defense (save for that little slip-up in Knoxville) and there’s little evidence to be shown that they’ll be able to rise to the challenge.
What may keep the Tigers in contention is the fact that their defense, led by all-everything lineman Charles Harris, is doing an admirable job of keeping games competitive (except for the aforementioned LSU game).
Also, Florida’s offense is pretty darn awful. The Gators do get a boost from Luke Del Rio’s return from a Week 3 injury, but will that be enough to gloss over the numerous deficiencies this unit has, including an underwhelming offensive line that allowed Vandy to break through to the backfield for most of the game?
Time will tell.
Before Del Rio’s exit, the Gators were averaging around 33 points a game. Since, they’ve averaged 20. Receiver Antonio Callaway has been the one constant for this offense through five games, posting two 100-yard games in the process. Del Rio needs to find he and tight end DeAndre Goolsby early and often.
On the other side, Missouri quarterback Drew Lock has been very impressive totaling 1,675 yards through five games with 14 TDs and 4 interceptions. He and J’Mon Moore have locked into one another, but with Teez Tabor probably manning that side of the field, you can be sure that Heupel plans on utilizing the other skill position players on the team.
In the end, this game is going to come down to the one big play that one team makes and the other doesn’t. Sounds very Dan Fouts-ish, but with neither offense finding a consistent level of play, you can imagine another defensive stand off. With Del Rio back in the mix, the Gators make that one big play.
Prediction: Florida 24 Missouri 7