The Missouri Tigers were counted out even before they had a chance to put the SEC logo on their jerseys and around their facilities. Most felt that Missouri wouldn’t have he size or speed to compete in the SEC. Three years and two SEC East titles later, well, Missouri still doesn’t get the respect of the national media even though Gary Pinkel brings back 12 starters from a year ago including quarterback Maty Mauk and running back Russell Hansbrough.
The Tigers have had Florida’s number the last three years. The Gators needed an interception in the end zone in 2012 to hold off Mizzou and then have been outscored 78-30 in the past two meetings.
Opponent: Missouri Tigers
When and Where:
The Florida Gators will travel to Columbia, Missouri to take on Missouri on Saturday, October 10. The game is Missouri’s homecoming game for 2015.
Missouri leads the series 3-1.
Missouri won 42-13
QB | Maty Mauk | JR
(221-414, 2,648 yards, 25 TD, 13 INT)
Mauk may be the most experienced quarterback in the SEC after leading Missouri to Atlanta last season. Mauk is a little bit of a wild card, a throw back gunslinger type of quarterback whose belief and trust in his arm leads to taking chances. Mauk dealt with a shoulder injury during the middle portion of the season, which affected his motion and arm strength but he came on towards the end of the season, as he and his receivers got healthier.
RB | Russell Hansbrough | SR
(205 carries, 1,084 yards, 10 TD)
Hansbrough had the tough task of replacing Henry Josey but he filled those shoes nicely. He led the team in carries, yards and rushing touchdowns and four times surpassed the century mark in a game. Even though they are a spread offense, Missouri ran the ball 56% of the time in 2014 and will lean on the rushing game this year until a receiver steps up to fill the void that four departing seniors left.
LB | Kentrell Brothers | SR
(122 tackles, 5 TFL, 1 sack, 2 pass breakups, 3 forced fumbles, 2 quarterback hurries)
It seems like Pinkel is growing fast-twitch defensive ends on trees over in Columbia with the run of talent they’ve enjoyed the past few years. Michael Sam and Shane Ray are gone but the man in the middle of the defense returns. Brothers led Missouri in tackles last season and was second in the SEC behind only Arkansas’ Martrell Spaight. Brothers started every game last season and was named a SEC second team All-American. Missouri has never had a first-team Al–American on the defensive side of the ball but Brothers could change that this season.
Other returners: TE Sean Culkin, WR Nate Brown, RB Ish Witter, OL Evan Boehm, OL Mitch Hall, OL Taylor Chappell, OL Connor McGovern, K Andrew Baggett
DL Shane Ray, WR Bud Sasser, WR Jimmie Hunt, WR Marcus Murphy, OL Mitch Morse, DL Lucas Vincent, S Braylon Webb,
The Gators had to hold their breath in 2012 and then were swept under the rug the past two seasons against Missouri. This will be just the second time the Gators travel to Columbia but playing in their favor is the schedule. Missouri travels to Athens to face the Georgia Bulldogs the week after Florida. Every Missouri player at SEC Media Days singled out the Bulldogs as the team they felt like was their true rival. Will Missouri overlook an opponent they have been able to easily dispatch the past two seasons? Florida may be young and working in a new coaching staff but they are not a team that can be overlooked.
Mauk may be the best quarterback in the SEC and he returns four veteran offensive linemen to keep him upright, but he loses his top four pass catchers from a year ago. If Florida can stop the run in Columbia they could come out of Missouri with their first win in the state.