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Gator Gameday: Storylines, question marks and key matchup for Florida at Missouri

Zach Abolverdi
Gator Sports
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Things to watch in Florida’s final SEC game at Missouri.

Storylines for Florida-Missouri

1. In a battle of 5-5 teams, the series between Florida and Missouri is also knotted at 5-5. The teams have played every year since 2012 when the Tigers joined the SEC, with UF winning four of the last six games. Columbia has been a tough place to play for the Gators, who suffered bad losses there in 2013 (36-17) and 2017 (45-16). Dan Mullen, however, is 2-0 as a head coach at Mizzou, winning with Florida in 2019 (23-6) and Mississippi State in 2015 (31-13). Mullen is also 1-0 against Tigers coach Eliah Drinkwitz after last year’s 41-17 victory in Gainesville.

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2. Saturday is Florida’s chance to not only gain bowl eligibility, but its first SEC road victory this season after losses at Kentucky, LSU and South Carolina. The Gators (2-5 SEC) haven’t been winless in conference road games since 1986, when the program was under two years’ probation for NCAA violations. That season is also the last time Florida finished with only two SEC wins and lost at Kentucky. UF has never gone 2-6 in SEC play since the league expanded to eight games in 1992. 

More:Missouri Scouting Report

3. This matchup features one of the nation’s top rushing attacks in Florida and Missouri’s Tyler Badie, who leads the SEC in rushing and ranks fourth in the country (1,239 yards). The Gators rank No. 10 nationally in rushing offense (227.6 yards per game) and lead the FBS with 6.0 yards per carry. Badie rushed for 209 yards last week, becoming the first Mizzou player to record four 200-yard rushing performances in a season and the third SEC player since 2000 to accomplish that feat (Leonard Fournette and Derrick Henry). 

Today's game questions

How will Emory Jones perform following his record-setting game? 

Can the Gators exploit Missouri’s struggling rushing defense? 

Is Florida able to limit Tyler Badie’s production on the ground? 

Can UF intercept Mizzou’s turnover-prone Connor Bazelak? 

Will Florida avoid costly mistakes on special teams? 

Click back Sunday for Abolverdi's answers.

Abolverdi’s pick: Missouri 38, Florida 34

Key matchup 

The rushing battle: Along with running the ball well, both teams have also struggled defending the run this season. The Gators have given up a total of 912 rushing yards in their last four games, while Missouri’s rushing defense ranks last in the SEC and 129th nationally with 249.6 yards allowed per game. The defense that can give up fewer rushing yards Saturday will likely win the game. Badie has been held under 100 yards rushing six times this season, including just 41 yards on 21 carries against Tennessee and 68 yards on 22 carries vs. Texas A&M.

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