The Missouri Tigers will seek to become bowl eligible and knock off a top-25 team at the same time as they play host to the Florida Gators this weekend. Kickoff is set for noon EST on Saturday, November 16 at Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Missouri. The game will be nationally televised on CBS.
Current odds list the Gators as 6.5-point road favorites with an over/under of 50.5 points. Click here to check out all of the Week 12 college football odds.
The Tigers have had a season of runs. At one point, Missouri had won five straight games and looked like they might be genuine contenders in the SEC East. However, Missouri’s season is now in danger of spiraling out of control with the Tigers losing three in a row. To be fair, all three losses have come on the road. But the Tigers have also been limited to just 21 total points over those three games, so there are surely some questions they need to answer right now.
Missouri is also facing a little bit of pressure to win one more game in order to become bowl eligible for the third straight year. The Tigers will feel good about beating rival Arkansas in the final game of the season. However, they’d prefer to put an end to their current losing streak sooner rather than later. That will require the Tigers getting a home win against either Florida this week or Tennessee next week.
Meanwhile, the Gators head to Missouri feeling good about themselves following last week’s 56-0 drubbing of Vanderbilt. That game came on the heels of Florida losing to Georgia, so it was important for the Gators to get back on track quickly.
With two losses on their record, Florida is likely out of College Football Playoff conversation. However, if Georgia loses their final two SEC games of the season to Auburn and Texas A&M, the Gators could still jump ahead of the Bulldogs in the SEC East and play in the conference championship game. While the odds are slim, it should be enough to keep Florida focused on facing Missouri, especially with a bye next week before their season finale against Florida State.
The Gators should also have redemption on their minds after losing to Missouri in each of the last two seasons. Missouri is actually 4-3 against Florida since joining the SEC in 2012, including a 38-17 win last year in The Swamp. The Gators are just 1-2 when visiting Missouri and would like to set things right with a win on Saturday.
Despite Florida’s difficulty with Missouri the last two seasons, I’m surprised the Gators aren’t a bigger favorite in this game, even on the road. The Tigers have looked utterly lifeless over the past month. Plus, all five teams that Missouri has beaten this year are unlikely to play in a bowl game, so even their modest 5-4 record might be a little misleading. I see a drastic difference in overall talent between these two teams, so I’ll happily take Florida to cover.
In Missouri’s defense, they were without starting quarterback Kelly Bryant in last week’s 27-0 loss to Georgia. The Tigers played two backups, although neither was effective. That being said, Bryant’s absence last week doesn’t explain why Missouri’s offense had so much trouble scoring against Vanderbilt and Kentucky in their previous losses. Both Vandy and Kentucky had success containing running back Larry Roundtree, putting everything on Bryant, who didn’t play particularly well either.
If the Missouri offense couldn’t muster much against Vanderbilt or Kentucky, I don’t see them having success against Florida either. Whenever the competition level has been cranked up this season, Bryant and the Tigers have been unable to answer the call. This week, they’ll face a Florida team that’s allowing just 15 points per game and is fresh off a shutout. The Gators have one of the best collection of pass rushers in the country, so if Missouri can’t get the running game back on track, it could be a long day for Bryant.
Missouri’s only chance in this game is for their defense to play lights out and force a low-scoring game. The Tigers are giving up less than 24 points per game in SEC play and has kept every conference opponent under 30 points. That’s no small feat in the SEC, so it’s not out of the question that the Missouri defense can keep the Florida offense under wraps.
On the other hand, the Tigers have struggled at times to stop the run. Even average SEC teams like Ole Miss and Kentucky have run wild on Missouri’s defense this year. Florida’s rushing attack is far from the best in the SEC. However, Lamical Perine has been able to break loose for big runs a few times this year. The Tigers could also have a hard time stopping Florida quarterback Kyle Trask, who has 16 touchdown passes to just six interceptions against SEC defenses this season.
If the line for this game was in double figures, I might be able to justify taking Missouri to beat the spread. However, I think the Tigers will struggle to score points in this game, giving the Gators a lot of time to put together a few good drives and build a comfortable lead. In the end, I’m confident that Florida will win and cover.