After its upset win over Georgia last week, Missouri announced quarterback James Franklin would be out for a while with a separated shoulder, leaving many to wonder if the injury would cost the Tigers their perfect season against Florida. Mizzou answered that question with an emphatic "no," dismantling the Gators, 36-17.
On offense, the Tigers were surely impressive, rolling up 500 yards and 24 first downs. True freshman Maty Mauck was solid filling in for Franklin and completed 18-of-36 passes for 295 yards, one touchdown and one interception. No, those aren't spectacular numbers, but considering they came against the SEC's top pass defense -- Florida allows 172.4 yards per game through the air -- they look a little rosier. Running back Henry Josey had a fine day running the ball, picking up 136 yards and a score on 18 carries.
While the offense gashed the Gators' heralded defense, it was Missouri's defense that most impressed Bill Connelly at Rock M Nation. The Tigers held the Gators to 151 total yards and 11 first downs.
Tyler Murphy was 15-for-29 for 92 yards, an interception, and six sacks (with eight hurries). Average yards per pass attempt: 1.4. Solomon Patton, covered frequently by freshman Aarion Penton, caught six of eight passes for just 46 yards. Michael Sam had his third three-sack performance in four weeks (!!!!!), and Missouri logged 10 tackles for loss in 60 snaps.
If we wanted to nitpick, we could point to that one Florida touchdown drive that saw the Gators rush six times for 70 yards. But a) that was their one touchdown drive, and b) Kelvin Taylor and Mack Brown combined to rush 15 times for 40 yards outside of that drive.
Connelly admits that Florida's offense is less than stellar, and that's one of the postgame focuses for Andy Hutchins at Alligator Army.
Taylor ran for 74 yards on just 12 carries and scored Florida's only offensive touchdown of the day, but after that drive, he got just one more carry, with Florida following his success with a perplexing pass-pass-pass three-and-out. And Florida did virtually nothing in the passing game all day, with a besieged Tyler Murphy getting sacked six times and completing 15 passes for a tidy 92 yards.
This was an immensely frustrating game, one in which Florida had three turnovers and the same number of conversions on 15 third down attempts, and, despite the many injuries that have left Florida seriously short-handed, it is likely to inflame a fan base that is just about fully fed up with how the Gators have followed the success of their 11-1 regular season in 2012.
Most people who follow college football -- at least, most who aren't Missouri fans -- likely figured the Tigers would have two or three losses at this point in the season. Instead Mizzou is 7-0 overall and 3-0 in SEC play. With Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, the three expected contenders in the Eastern Division, losing on Saturday, Brandon Larrabee at Team Speed Kills points out that Gary Pinkel's team is closing in on an SEC Championship Game berth.
With South Carolina losing to Tennessee and Georgia falling to Vanderbilt, Missouri now has a two-game lead over everyone else in the East division. It also owns the tiebreaker over Georgia and Florida, and it can basically sew up the thing by beating South Carolina at home next week.