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Florida vs. Missouri: No revenge narrative, but Gators could use reversal of recent history

Florida-Missouri is not a rivalry — but it's both for proximity and hammer-nail reasons.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In 2013 and 2014, Florida went 11-13. The Gators lost seven games in a row — including a first loss to Vanderbilt in decades and a loss to Georgia Southern in the FCS power's last game at that level — to finish 2013 at a dismal 4-8, lost two games in excruciating blowouts and three other games in stupefyingly agonizing fashion in 2014, and went 0-3 against in-state rivals Florida State and Miami.

But no team beat up on the Gators in those two years quite like Missouri.

Of the seven teams — the SEC East's other six squads, LSU, and two Florida State teams that were undefeated and ranked in the top two of the AP Poll — to face the Gators in both 2013 and 2014, the two-time defending SEC East champions were the only team to beat Florida by double digits in each encounter.

And Missouri's composite score from those two meetings, a staggering 78-30 count, isn't just great for the Tigers: It's historically bad for Florida. It's more lopsided than any composite score from two consecutive defeats for Florida in its rivalry against Georgia since Herschel Walker's heyday, all but one two-year composite score (from Florida's probation days of 1987 and 1988) in the history of its rivalry FSU, and any two-year composite score compiled by Miami.

In any of those rivalries — or in Florida's series with LSU (no two-year score so dramatic, though the Tigers won consecutive meetings in 1967 and 1971 by a combined 72 points) or Tennessee (which beat Florida by a combined 68 points in three meetings over a span from 1940 to 1952) — even a short run of success would spur talk of Florida needing or wanting "revenge" on the opposing team.

Not so with Missouri, the school most geographically distant from Florida in the entire SEC: The prevailing narratives this week are about Florida's surprising rise, Missouri's freshman quarterback Drew Lock, and the potential of a letdown game on the road.

Even Jim McElwain correctly noting that Missouri had logic on its side in slotting Florida in as its Homecoming foe, a year after the Gators' own embarrassing Homecoming faceplant against the Tigers, is only a blip on the radar. There's no juice to Florida avenging past defeats against Missouri, partly because there's so little history between the teams, partly because Florida fans aren't seeing Mizzou gold t-shirts at Publix and Tigers fans don't see Gators hoodies at Schnucks.

That doesn't mean Florida isn't using those memories to fuel itself this week; in fact, I'd wager that McElwain is motivating his players with some of that sort of stuff privately. But if the Homecoming note is all we get in terms of public discussion of the Tigers ripping Florida to shreds in recent years, and the Gators champing at the bit to return the favor, it will be odd.

Florida has beatdowns to pay back, after all.