Let’s tell it like it is, the last time the Gators traveled to Columbia, Mo., they quit, gave up. Really, though, who could blame them? Their coach, Jim McElwain, had been terminated a few days earlier, their season was a wreck and there was really nothing left to play for except pride — and UF let that slip away, too. The Gators fell behind early and laid down for the Tigers, who happily pinned an embarrassing 45-16 rout on them.
Totally different scenario now. Not only do the Gators have their coach in Dan Mullen, but he’s a coach they believe in and trust. He’s told them if they go into this game and compete, compete to win, they’ll come home with a victory. And unlike two years ago, UF still has a lot to play for. The East is probably off the table, but the Gators can still finish 10-2 and make it to a second consecutive New Year’s Six bowl game. So, good coach, lot’s to play for, plenty of motivation.
UF’s will to compete — and stay competitive — will be tested early. The Tigers have been good at home and will come in with confidence and probably get off to a quick start, and the Gators will find themselves playing from behind. But they won’t quit. They’ll keep fighting and eventually will find a way to get the dub.
For Florida, the biggest concern has to be the fact that the Gators can’t run the ball and Missouri has a strong secondary, so the pass-only offense is likely facing a real struggle today. Throw in some cold weather and it figures to be a low-scoring game.
The bottom line is, the Tigers will present problems and Mullen and his staff will come up with enough answers.
Prediction: Florida 24, Missouri 21.