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Florida vs. Missouri, Game Thread: Gators, Tigers tussle for sixth win

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Florida once looked like a team that could run Missouri over. But the Gators have to worry about getting road-graded now.

NCAA Football: Samford at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

At practically any point in September, Florida-Missouri (4 p.m., SEC Network or WatchESPN) looked like a pretty simple proposition: Pitting the Gators’ historically productive running game against Missouri’s historically poor run defense was likely to create a mismatch in which Florida mashed out the Tigers. And that was probably true for a fair bit of October, too.

But now it is November, and Florida’s defense has often looked like it would need help from a medical professional to stop a nosebleed, while Missouri’s Tyler Badie has racked up four 200-yard rushing totals this season — and Florida’s vaunted running game has been stymied by South Carolina, no great shakes on the ground. In the span of two short months, what looked like it could have been just a speed bump for the Gators could conceivably be Dan Mullen’s last stop if his team fails to prevail in its last SEC road game of the year.

Things change with alacrity in college football.

Florida is still a favorite in this game, which probably has plenty to do with Missouri’s defense still being bad: The Tigers are still next to last nationally in rushing yards allowed per game, even though their last Saturday was spent doing well to stop the rushing attack South Carolina team that ran all over Florida just two weeks ago, and they’ve allowed multiple passing touchdowns to their last seven opponents, with two of those teams being North Texas and Vanderbilt.

Badie’s great season is also a product of playing those two teams, in part: Two of his 200-yard days happened against the Mean Green and Commodores, with the other two coming against Central Michigan and South Carolina. In his other six outings this season, he hasn’t cracked 85 rushing yards; if Florida’s defense is going to play up to its standards and not down to its opponents, Badie may be in for a fine but not headlining day.

And the tricky thing to evaluate about Florida right now is that everything seemingly falling apart has come in conjunction with things coming together for Emory Jones as a passer. Since his pick-six and benching at LSU, Jones has rebounded nicely, keeping a clean sheet against Georgia’s defense, hitting deep balls against South Carolina, and riddling Samford’s overmatched secondary for a school-record performance.

While Florida’s defense seems more capable than ever of turning games into shootouts after yielding 52 points and tons of yardage to Samford, Jones — who will have a fully healthy Anthony Richardson behind him as both backup and potential change of pace for the first time in a month — now also seems capable of winning them for the Gators, having compiled 834 yards, eight touchdowns, and one interception on his last 78 attempts.

And Missouri? It plays plenty of shootouts, with both teams scoring 24 points in every game the Tigers have played this season apart from meetings with Texas A&M and Georgia.

The powder may not stay dry in CoMo on this Saturday.

Here are 10 predictions for Florida’s meeting with Missouri.

  1. Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson will each account for at least 75 yards.
  2. At least one Florida QB will account for multiple touchdowns.
  3. Florida will run for more than 175 yards.
  4. Florida will score multiple touchdowns in the first half.
  5. Dameon Pierce will rush for more than 100 yards.
  6. Florida’s defense will get a turnover in the first half.
  7. Tyler Badie will not rush for more than 125 yards.
  8. Florida’s defense will allow at least 10 points in each half.
  9. Florida will lead by double digits in the second half.
  10. Florida will win, 41-27.