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Florida vs. Missouri, Game Thread: Pain is pain, and a win is a win

Florida heads to Missouri with battered players and wounded pride. A win in Columbia would go a long way toward making up for the latter.

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

Florida won't have its starting quarterback, running back, or right tackle against Missouri. The Gators won't have their starting defensive tackle or strong-side linebacker — once the crown jewels of a recruiting class renowned as one of the best in college football history — either, and won't have the tackle's backup, either.

And Florida won't have its starting kick returner, and won't be starting its Ray Guy Award finalist at punter; the Gators will let a walk-on handle field goals, and may give carries to a former walk-on and a converted defensive back.

If Florida wins this game, on its first ever on the road at Missouri and in conditions colder than the Gators have experienced in October in quite some time, it will almost certainly be in an ugly, painful fashion — the kind that makes Florida fans raised on demolitions from bomb squads wearing blue and orange restless.

Sometimes, though, it's enough to win.

Florida is not going to have any easy games for the rest of this year, not with the schedule remaining — four top-15 teams, two of them undefeated, and just one at home — and the injuries this team has sustained over the course of the season taken into account. The Gators will be without three of the most important players on the team for the rest of the year, with Jeff Driskel, Dominique Easley, and Matt Jones all done for 2013, and the bumps and bruises have seemed more numerous and damaging than in most years.

To win, Florida will need to run the ball effectively, and make Missouri's offense, now triggered by the untested but heralded Maty Mauk, as ugly as its own. It might need a great special teams play, or a defensive touchdown, and it is almost definitely going to win a close game, if it wins at all.

But I don't care how Florida wins, just that it does. This is a season that has inched closer and closer to the precipice, and Florida needs a win badly for its players' confidence.

Go get that win, Gators.