Gators jump out to quick lead, coast to win against Tigers
The No. 11 Gators took another step forward in their attempt to “restore the order” with a 21-3 road victory over Missouri Saturday.
The win over the back-to-back SEC East champs moved Florida to 6-0 for the first time since 2012, and just the second time since 2010.
Florida (6-0, 4-0 SEC), which has not played in the SEC championship game since 2009, is also now in control of the SEC East as the only undefeated team left in the division. Kentucky is the closest to the Gators in the standings as the only other team in the division with one conference loss, but Florida owns the tiebreaker with a win over the Wildcats earlier this season.
For the first time in a long while, the Gators’ offense started fast.
Florida began the game with a 12-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard rushing touchdown from running back Kelvin Taylor to build a quick 7-0 lead. It marked the Gators’ first touchdown on an opening possession since Nov. 16, 2013 against South Carolina.
It was the start of a strong night for Taylor. The former Glades Day star ran for 99 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries.
Taylor scored his second touchdown of the contest late in the first quarter on another 1-yard run to send the Gators into halftime with a 14-3 lead.
But after totaling 245 yards in the first half, Florida’s offense slowed. Missouri (4-2, 1-2 SEC), which entered the contest with the SEC’s top defense, yardage and scoring wise, held the Gators to just 92 yards over the final two quarters.
Constant pressure bumped quarterback Will Grier off his rhythm, as the Florida’s redshirt freshman took a small step back after turning in the best performance of his collegiate career against Ole Miss last week. But Grier was still solid, as he finished 20 of 33 for 208 yards and no interceptions.
As usual, the Gators defense was there to pick the offense up.
Missouri was limited to 257 yards for the game. The Tigers converted just 1 of 14 third-down attempts.
Florida forced Missouri freshman quarterback Drew Lock into two interceptions — one from cornerback Jalen Tabor and another from safety Marcus Maye. Tabor took his interception 40 yards for his second pick-six of the season, increasing the Gators’ lead to 21-3 in the third quarter. Lock was starting his second game in place of the suspended Maty Mauk.
The Gators now hold a turnover margin of plus-eight this season.
Florida will head to Baton Route next Saturday night for a nationally televised game against LSU (7 p.m., ESPN) and another battle of top 25 teams.