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Dawg Preview: #11 Missouri Tigers Welcome the Florida Gators to Faurot Field

The Missouri Tigers, fresh off their big win at home versus #19 Tennessee, will play host to the 5-5 Florida Gators, who have dropped three in a row. The Tigers are heavy favorites to win this one handily, but they must be careful not to come out flat and sleepwalk through this one. Let's break it down.

Broadcast Info;

Date: Saturday, November 18th, 2023

Time: 7:30 pm EST

Where: Faurot Field, Columbia, Missouri


Calling: Joe Tessitore, Jesse Palmer, Katie George

Radio: KTGR Tiger Radio Network 1580AM/105.1FM (Missouri), ESPN WRUF 98.1FM/850AM (Florida)

Tale of the Tape: Missouri Tigers

The Tigers are coming off a statement win over Tennessee, a team they've struggled mightily with over the past few years. Getting that monkey off their back was big, but the rest of the season lies ahead, and if the Tigers want to give themselves the best chance possible at a New Year's Six and, albeit very unlikely, SEC Championship berth, they need to handle these next two matchups with ease. Lucky for them, their next two matchups come against two struggling squads, the first being this Florida team that looked promising early but has since floundered heavily. This doesn't mean Missouri will walk all over them though, as Florida still has talent and can catch Missouri off-guard if they are ill-prepared or coasting after their big win.

Offensively, the run game will be a key piece that the Tigers will need to hang their hat on. Florida ranks a measly 86th in run defense, allowing 160 yards/game and 4.95 yards/carry. With a running back like Cody Schrader, who is cementing himself as a prime candidate for the Doak Walker award with his performance this year. 1,124 yards rushing, 5.7 yards/carry, and 11 touchdowns will put you there, and Missouri will need to utilize him heavily to run over this Florida defense. Florida's secondary is also not as strong as in years past, and with one of the best wide receiver rooms in the nation in Luther Burden and Theo Wease among others, they're in for an uphill battle. Stay the course, run a balanced attack, and don't come out flat, and this Tiger offense should clobber the Gators.

Defensively, Florida quarterback Graham Mertz is unimpressive. He doesn't throw that many picks, but has his good days and his bad throwing the football and his numbers aren't all that flashy. Pressuring him will be a must and forcing bad throws for the stellar Mizzou secondary to pick off will make the job a lot easier. Mertz can get hot and if he develops a rhythm, can definitely gash unwary defenses, so getting in his face and forcing bad throws will slow this offense down. Florida runs a very balanced attack though, so containing the run is just as important. Trevor Etienne still averages 5.9 yards/carry, so he can move the ball, as can Montrell Johnson Jr., who averages 5.1 yards/carry. Containing Florida's offense will be the key part in winning this game, as the offense should have a great outing against a weaker D. Considering what the Tigers did to Tennessee last week, the odds are in their favor.

Tale of the Tape: Florida

Florida is on a skid at the moment. 3 losses in a row have really hurt their bowling chances and if they don't get their act together, they may not see the postseason after being highly touted at the beginning of the year. The road there is definitely not easy, as it starts with a red-hot Missouri team that has one of the most high-powered offenses in the country. We saw how poorly Florida handles high-powered offenses just last week with LSU...

On the offensive side of the ball though, there's a glimmer of hope. If Florida can maintain possession and run the football effectively, making the defensive backs cheat up and play the run more, then maybe that'll open some big passing plays. Missouri struggles also with short-range passing, so dinking and dunking your way down the field may be the move for the Gators to take here. The running back tandem of Etienne and Johnson Jr. has the ability to make guys miss and break into the open field, so they need to be given the ball. Missouri's front seven is tough but has been known to expose the middle of the field. The Option, draw plays, and RPOs may work in Florida's favor.

Defensively, Florida just needs to hold their water. Not much else to say here. You've got one of the worst defenses in the SEC right now and just got slammed by LSU's potent attack, Missouri's isn't much weaker, especially if they get going like we saw last week. It's a pretty big mismatch. Bend but don't break, get Missouri off the field quickly, and you give yourselves a chance. If not, this is going to be a long day for the Gators. You can't afford to get into a shootout, Missouri will win that every time and win big. Just have serviceable containment, and give your offense a chance to work.

Conclusion and Final Score Prediction

This one could get ugly as long as Missouri doesn't overlook the Gators, which will be kind of hard to do considering their next game is against bottom-of-the-barrel Arkansas. Rivalry game yes, but that iteration of the Battle Line Rivalry may be one of the more boring ones in recent years given how poorly Arkansas has been this year. There is a possibility Florida makes this a game as mentioned earlier, but don't count on it. The Tiger offense is going to prove to be too much for the Florida defense, much like last week, and the Gators are going to drop their 4th in a row. With #5 Florida State on the docket next, things aren't looking good in Gator Country for a postseason berth...

Final Score: Missouri 49-Florida 21


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