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Florida vs. Missouri, Game Thread: The Gators face a gotta-win

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The tangible, this week, may be less important than the intangible. And that's the difference between a must-win and a gotta-win.

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My 25 predictions for Florida's showdown in The Swamp with Missouri (7 p.m., SEC Network or WatchESPN)...

  1. Florida will score first.
  2. Both teams will score in the first quarter.
  3. Florida will lead for more than 10:00 in the first half.
  4. Jeff Driskel will take every snap at QB for Florida on the Gators' first drive.
  5. Driskel will account for more than 150 yards of total offense.
  6. Matt Jones will run for more than 80 yards.
  7. Kelvin Taylor will run for more than 40 yards.
  8. Florida will have at least three rushes of more than 15 yards.
  9. Treon Harris will play at least 15 snaps at quarterback.
  10. Quinton Dunbar will make a touchdown catch. (Because hell, why not?)
  11. Florida's receivers will have more than 10 catches.
  12. Florida will score more than 24 points.
  13. Florida's defense will allow under 4.8 yards per play.
  14. Missouri will complete fewer than 55 percent of its passes.
  15. A linebacker will lead Florida in tackles.
  16. Florida will allow at least one 30-yard reception.
  17. Florida will record at least one interception.
  18. Florida will force at least two turnovers.
  19. Andre Debose will make a play on special teams. Again.
  20. Kyle Christy will average better than 48 yards per punt.
  21. Florida will make at least one field goal.
  22. Florida will win the time of possession battle.
  23. Florida will lead for the majority of the second half.
  24. Florida will win.
  25. And it's gonna be ugly. (Yes, again.)

Star-divide

Two weeks ago, prior to Florida's game against Tennessee, in what seems like another lifetime, I wrote about how every remaining game of Florida's fall was a "must-win" for both the Gators and Will Muschamp.

And that's still true. They still are all must-wins.

But tonight's game against Missouri feels more like a "gotta-win."

Yeah, Florida must win this game to stay in the race in the SEC East, especially with Georgia mashing out Arkansas and essentially winning a break over the Gators when it comes to wins over SEC West foes. Yeah, Florida must win this game to have a feasible chance of getting to eight wins in this rugged regular season. Yeah, Florida must win to keep Muschamp's seat from spontaneously combusting.

But Florida's gotta win this one for fans who just can't deal with another loss, not after more in the Gators' last 12 games than they had in Muschamp's first two years. It's gotta play winning football behind at least one quarterback — either Jeff Driskel, unlikely as it seems, or Treon Harris, prodigious though that would be, or both — to make the offense that has sputtered good enough to win a game. It's gotta restore some faith in its competence, a week after shooting both feet off with a sawed-off shotgun in a loss to LSU.

The tangible, this week, may be less important than the intangible.

And that's the difference between a must-win and a gotta-win.

Florida's gotta win tonight. Or I'll have to write a eulogy. And I don't wanna write a eulogy.

Go Gators.