One week after beating Ole Miss, Florida is Ole Miss.
I know that sounds confusing at first, but think about. Only two weeks before coming to Gainesville, the Rebels beat Alabama in Tuscaloosa and the love started flowing their way. Ole Miss rose all the way to No. 3 in the nation and many were saying this was the most talented team in the SEC and one of the most talented in the nation. All that love and all that talk abruptly ceased after the Rebels got whacked in The Swamp.
That result changed a lot for Ole Miss — and maybe more for Florida.
The Gators, who couldn’t even get a pat on the back heading into the season, are now getting a big, old bear hug from the national media — more love than they’ve seen since Urban Meyer left. Some have even started speculating that this UF team is talented enough to be mentioned as a College Football Playoff contender; that this may be the best defense in the country; that Jim McElwain could be the national coach of the year. And so on and so on.
Please, stop the lunacy. All this love for Florida could disappear Saturday night, just like it did for Ole Miss a week ago.
The Gators are facing a Missouri team that routed them the last two seasons. The Tigers have a tenacious, attacking defense that traditionally produces turnovers and is hard to score on. Missouri will try to swarm all over Will Grier and that inexperienced offensive line, force turnovers and a bunch of negative plays.
Missouri has struggled on offense (does that sound familiar?), but true freshman quarterback Drew Lock has generated a lot of buzz in Columbia after beating South Carolina in his first start last week with two touchdown passes. He enters this game with growing confidence and secure in the fact the hometown crowd will have his back.
The Gators better be careful with this one. If they turn the ball over and give up a bunch of sacks, Missouri is going to win this game. Florida’s defense also has to be focused and tackle well. If the Gators give up some big plays and lose momentum early, it’s going to be hard to get back and things could go downhill fast.
The Florida players have been assuring everyone, including themselves, that all this praise and attention they’re getting after the Ole Miss game won’t distract them or lead them to become full of themselves. It’s easy to say that, but when everyone keeps telling you how great you are, the tendency is to start believing it.
I’m tempted to pick the upset here. Certainly, I won’t be shocked if it happens because this is such a trap game for the Gators.
So, let’s just call this one very, very, very shaky pick this week.
Prediction: Florida 21, Missouri 20.