Game Day Preview: What you need to know entering Missouri-Florida matchup
This game has the makings to be a dandy. It’s Missouri’s homecoming and the Tigers have won the last two meetings by a combined margin of 78-30. But, the Gators come in ranked No. 11 and can maintain control of the SEC East with a win.
No. 11 Florida (5-0) at Missouri (4-1)
Kickoff time: Sat., Oct. 10, 7:30 p.m. (SEC Network)
Weather: 72 degrees, sunny
Line: Gators are favored to win by 4.5 points.
Series record: Missouri leads 3-1.
Numbers to know:
9.6-Mizzou ranks second nationally in tackles for loss per game (9.6), while Florida is tied for third (9.2).
10– The Tigers have won 10 of its last 13 Homecoming games by an average margin of 24 points. Mizzou’s lone homecoming defeat since 2010 was a double-overtime loss to South Carolina in 2013.
7– A win would make Mizzou 5-1 or better for the seventh time under coach Gary Pinkel. Mizzou reached a bowl game in all six of those occasions.
6-Florida has allowed six sacks in each of the last two meetings, both of which were Mizzou wins.
11-Mizzou has 11 Florida natives on its roster, while Florida has zero players from Missouri.
Story lines to watch:
Which freshman QB plays like a freshman:
Both Pinkel and Florida coach Jim McElwain will rely on inexperienced quarterbacks. Mizzou true freshman Drew Lock will make his second career start, and Florida will send out redshirt freshman Will Grier. Both were very impressive last week. Lock won his first career start last Saturday against South Carolina, going 21-for-28 for 136 yards and two touchdowns, while Grier was even better, completing 24 of his 29 attempts for 271 yards and four touchdowns. More importantly, neither quarterback committed any turnovers. Lock was 9-for-16 on third down last week and has thrown one interception in 53 attempts and, according to ESPN Stats and Information, Grier is 26-of-27 for 302 yards and four touchdowns, with one interception and three sacks against the blitz. Each defense has been stellar through five games and is among the best in the nation at pressuring quarterbacks. The freshman that keeps his cool will put his team in the best position to win.
Against the odds:
Since 1990, Florida is 169-16 against unranked opponents. Mizzou has won eight of its last 12 games against ranked opponents, including a 36-17 win over No. 22 Florida in 2013. As Florida tries to regain its place among the elite of the SEC, and with Mizzou trying to stay there, it is imperative for each program to continue these trends.
RB Kelvin Taylor vs. LB Kentrell Brothers:
The son of former Florida great Fred Taylor leads the Gators in rushing (339 yards, 5 touchdowns), but has failed to really get going so far in 2015, averaging just 3.9 yards per carry. Kentrell Brothers has been nothing short of a monster this year, picking up an SEC-high 59 tackles. If Taylor wins this battle, he gives Florida some balance and helps slow a violent Mizzou pass rush. If Florida can’t block Brothers, that puts the Gators behind the chains and Grier becomes a sitting duck, on the road, against a very good defense.
My prediction: Missouri 27, Florida 24.
Two dynamic defenses working against freshman quarterbacks means this game will come down to turnovers and who takes care of the ball. Mizzou has won with defense all year and has had Florida’s number as of late. The Tigers pull off the upset with Andrew Baggett being the hero.