Like the Georgia Bulldogs, the Florida Gators are a team in the SEC East hunt. Can the Missouri football team give the Gators a scare?
The Gator’s 2020 season was better than their 8-4 record may show. Headlined by a win over Georgia and SEC East Division championship, head coach Dan Mullen led a great team to a solid record. Whatever good feelings about the season were lost to a three-game losing streak to close out the season, including a 55-20 drubbing in the Cotton Bowl.
After beating Missouri 41-17 in 2020, this year’s matchup would seem like a lock for the Florida Gators. However, there are some key points that could prove to be the Gators’ downfall.
Surprisingly, this matchup is historically close since the Tigers have joined the SEC. Missouri is 4-5 against Florida since 2012, with the most recent win coming in 2018. Florida is in such an enviable position for many college programs, consistently getting top 10 recruiting classes under Mullen, and is a blue-chip program. This game provides the best opportunity in 2021 for a Missouri upset.
The stars may align when the Gators visit Columbia.
Florida fielded one of the best passing attacks in the nation in 2020, led by quarterback Kyle Trask and a top-four draft pick tight end Kyle Pitts. Including Pitts and Trask, five offensive Gators were selected in the 2021 NFL Draft.
That experience and talent will be hard to replicate, as redshirt sophomore Emory Jones tries to pick up where Trask left off. Couple the inexperienced players with a paltry rushing attack, where the Gators averaged 120 yards per game.
The defense is not fairing much better, outside of a strong and experienced linebacker corps. The front line and secondary were not strong points for the Gators in 2020 and 2021 hold little optimism about progression.
While the two teams were completely different in 2020, holding Florida in line may look like Kentucky; ground-and-pound football focused on time of possession. While Florida and Missouri had a similar average time of possession in 2020, the air attack kept the sticks moving for Florida. If Jones struggles or cannot adjust to the scheme. Missouri can capitalize with methodical drives and working the clock.
The SEC East has long been a battle between the Bulldogs and the Gators. The Missouri football team was the last division champion that was not Georgia or Florida, back in 2014. 2021 may be the year that Missouri rises above Florida again and build towards 2022.