Some games a team can win without lighting up the stat column offensively. Sometimes everything just falls in to place and right into one team’s lap.
Saturday, the Florida Gators football team experienced just the opposite.
The Missouri Tigers (5-2, 2-1 SEC) routed the Gators (3-3, 2-3 SEC) 42-13 in a game that was ugly from the opening kickoff, which Missouri returned for a touchdown. The Tigers scored at will throughout the night, but especially had a high-octane third quarter, scoring 22 points. However, the scoreboard only tells half the story, much like how it did in Florida’s 44-11 drubbing of South Carolina in 2012.
In that game, Florida had fewer first downs (14 to South Carolina’s 17) and only 94 yards of passing, but would get four touchdowns from Jeff Driskel and a rushing touchdown from Matt Jones. Jones would finish the game with three carries for 11 yards.
Saturday’s game had a similar feel. Florida had 164 more yards of offense than Missouri (283 to 119), more first downs (17 to 7), and a greater time of possession (33:59 to 26:01). Tigers quarterback Maty Mauk numbers for the night? 6-18, 20 yards, and one interception.
He also led the team in rushing with 38 yards.
So where did the points come from? Seemingly everywhere but the offense. Of Missouri’s seven scores, only one came from the offense: Murphy’s five-yard touchdown run with 3:50 left in the first quarter. The Tigers had 19 points from special teams, including a 96-yard kickoff return touchdown and an 86-yard punt return touchdown by Marcus Murphy.
As in the 2012 win against South Carolina, turnovers would also be pivotal in Saturday’s loss against Missouri. Against the Gamecocks, Florida would force four turnovers, giving the Gators a short field to work with and allowing for many points without the yards to show for it.
Florida would turn the ball over six times against Missouri. Two of those- a fumble recovery by Markus Golden and an interception return by Darvin Ruise- would be returned for touchdowns. Other turnovers would give the Tigers great field position, much like two years ago for the Gators. A fumble by Treon Harris in the first quarter would be recovered by Missouri on the Florida 19-yard-line. An interception by Jeff Driskel in the second quarter would give Missouri field position in at the Florida five-yard-line. The Tigers would score 10 points off those turnovers.
To add insult to injury for Florida’s night against Missouri, the Tigers put up worse numbers tonight offensively than when they did in last week’s 34-0 loss to Georgia. In that game Missouri had more total yards of offense (147 to 119), more first downs (10 to 7), and a better completion percentage from Mauk (42.9 to 33.3).
Missouri’s large margin of victory in spite of the gaudy offensive numbers seen tonight were tough to stomach for Florida fans, much like Florida’s victory was hard for South Carolina supporters. The night was an unusual one for those in attendance at Ben Hill Griffin stadium and may be an ominous sign of things to come for the program.