Up until Treon Harris threw a five yard touchdown pass to Tevin Westbrook with 1:43 to play in the 3rd quarter last year, Missouri had scored 55 consecutive points dating back to the 4th quarter of the 2013 game in Columbia. Needless to say, the Florida Gators have struggled against the Tigers since they entered the SEC in 2012, and even that year the Gators needed a last second interception by Josh Evans to preserve a 14-7 win.
In three games against Missouri, Florida has managed only three first half points, five offensive touchdowns, ten turnovers and averaged 12.3 points per game. If you desire to have a meltdown, feel free to look at the other abysmal offensive numbers the Gators have managed to put up against the Tigers.
Last year Missouri ran through the Gators 42-13 in the Swamp. It was an extremely difficult loss for many Florida fans. Many remember a bewildered Jeremy Foley kneeling in the end zone at the end of the game. It was the peak of frustration knowing that the defense surrendered 119 total yards and lost by 29 points.
This Saturday night a different Gator team will be traveling to the ‘Show Me State’. The Gators enter their fourth SEC game of the season ranked 11th in AP Top-25 Poll and are coming off of a dominating performance of the previously 3rd ranked Ole Miss Rebels. Florida will be a confident team looking to turn around the recent woes against the Tigers. Jim McElwain has the pundits writing a new narrative about the Gators, they are in the driver’s seat in the SEC Eastern division race and are favored to win.
When asked if Florida will be thinking about that 42-13 beat down, senior strong safety Marcus Maye says the Gators won’t be. “No, not really,” he responded nonchalantly
Florida may not be thinking about what is behind them, but they cannot overlook what is in front of them. This game against Missouri could turn into a trap game very quickly if the Gators get complacent with the accolades and in the words of Coach McElwain “Getting their bellies rubbed”. Missouri has struggled to wins against Arkansas State and UCONN as well as a loss to Kentucky, who Florida has already beaten.
Florida has not had much reason the past two weeks to lose focus. Florida is still a young team and every week is a new experience for most of them, for anyone not on the 2013 team, they do not know what it is like to be ranked two weeks in a row. McElwain will be challenged to get this team focused on Missouri and his message to them is about dethroning the team that has won the last two SEC East division championships.
“Let’s face it, they’re the champ two years in a row on this side [of the SEC],” McElwain said in his Monday press conference.
Coach McElwain has a lot of respect for what Missouri has done this season complimenting their style of play and defense as well.
“This is a team that plays the way you’re supposed to play,” said McElwain. “They take care of football offensively, they get the ball back on defense, their red zone efficiency is fantastic when you see the amount of times they’re down there and not giving up touchdowns. That’s impressive.”
If the last two years have taught us anything Missouri will not be a pushover for the Gators. They should not be disregarded and the last two losses to Tigers should give this team enough motivation to remain focused. This is another opportunity for Florida to show the fans, the SEC and nation who they truly are. If this is the team we have come to believe they are the past two weeks, they should beat this edition of the Missouri Tigers. If Florida has a letdown or looks ahead to ‘bigger’ games they could walk away very disappointed. Florida has a lot to play for on Saturday and another win increases the stakes in what could turn into a very special season.