When Florida went to Missouri in 2013, it was as a team with momentum, and faint but real hopes of winning the SEC East. And then a quarterback few had ever heard of and a pass rush that was unsung until that day rose up and ripped the Gators.
On this Saturday night, at 7:30 p.m. Eastern on the SEC Network, Florida meets Missouri in Columbia as a team with momentum, and more than faint hopes of winning the SEC East. What stands in the Gators' way? Another quarterback few had ever heard of, and an underrated pass rush.
Of course, the primary difference between the two teams is really the difference in Florida's offense: That 2013 team fed a quietly injured Tyler Murphy to the lambs behind a leaky offensive line, and he failed to move the Gators on that day; this 2015 team just nullified one of the nation's finest pass-rushers with the sort of brilliant game-planning that has fans thinking Jim McElwain might know his stuff. Kelvin Taylor returns, and should again be the best thing Florida has on the ground, but it seems unlikely he'll make a one-drive cameo.
Florida's defense is fierce again, but it's not nearly as emaciated as it was on that day; the Gators finished the day with just six of the 11 probable starters for that fall on the field. And while Drew Lock is a promising prospect for Missouri, he's not the threat with his legs that Maty Mauk was, and could be more quickly consumed by the voracious Gators pass rush.
In short, this is a better Florida team, and while Missouri's defense is very good and significantly underrated, Florida is a rightful favorite on this night.
But after that first debacle in the Show-Me State, Florida needs to show more on this evening to get out of Columbia with the SEC East lead — and its undefeated record — intact.