Florida-No. 11 Missouri Breakdown & Prediction

by Inside the Gators Staff
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Inside the Gators‘ Zack Weiss and Mark Wheeler take a closer look at Saturday’s match-up between Florida and No. 11 Missouri including thoughts on if this is Florida’s best shot at becoming bowl eligible, the Gators’ biggest advantage and disadvantage, and offer up a score prediction.

What is both team’s biggest advantage and disadvantage?

Weiss: “No one believes in us.” Yeah, that’s about it. That’s where Florida’s advantage lies in this one — the no one believes in us, underdog mentality. Now more than at any other point this season. Even before the Georgia game, hope flickered in the hearts of the Gators’ faithful. It was apparent. Now, all seems lost. A bowl game seems like more of a wish than an expectation. But if the Orange & Blue can use that, the underdog mentality, to their advantage going into Saturday’s prime time matchup, they could become dangerous. Florida’s biggest disadvantage is, and I know I sound like a broken clock here (but only because it’s true), being away from The Swamp. Under Billy Napier, the Gators are now 1-7 as the road team — and an even more disheartening 1-10 if you include neutral site/bowl games.

Missouri’s biggest advantage is the fact that it has formidable offensive weapons, and Florida’s defense can’t stop anyone. Brady Cook’s been great at quarterback for the Tigers, having thrown for over 2,700 yards on the season with 17 TDs and six INTs. Luther Burden III has been one of the best wideouts in the nation with nearly 1,000 yards and eight TDs on the year. Cody Schrader’s been a beast at RB with over 1,100 yards and 11 TDs. These guys should be able to have their way against a susceptible Florida defense. Missouri’s biggest disadvantage lies in the fact that its defense has been somewhat spotty, and the Gators — if for nothing else — are more than capable of putting up points. LSU scored 49, and Georgia scored 30 against this Tigers defense.

Wheeler: What’s gotten lost in the losses over the last two years that Florida is indeed more talented from top to bottom than many of the teams it faces. Look at running back. Trevor Etienne is more talented than Cody Shrader, but Shrader has had a better season. That is due to many factors, including scheme, players surrounding him, etc.. However, going position by position, other than receiver Luther Burden, there aren’t a lot of ‘wow’ type of talents suiting up for the Tigers. They just are well-coached and have some momentum in their favor.

That is also Florida’s biggest disadvantage, it’s right there in the sentence above. Missouri is better coached and has momentum going in their favor. Throw in the fact that they are at home and still playing to maintain their relevance (and contention for a NY6 Bowl) and they have plenty of motivation to keep it rolling.

Would a loss this weekend mean Billy Napier’s job is in jeopardy if it isn’t already?

Weiss: No. Now, whether it should, or whether his job already should be — that’s a different question. Would a loss this weekend mean Napier’s job is in jeopardy, though? No. Because it isn’t already, and nothing that could happen the rest of this season could make it so. Regardless of whether it’s the right move or not, Napier’s being given time. Stricklin is being patient with him. He’s being given a chance to bring in a whole new class of his recruits and build this program from the “bottom” up. Another disappointing season next year — then we can really talk. But, for now, Napier’s job, by all indications, appears to be safe.

Wheeler: Look, Florida lost to an Arkansas squad, that had a losing record, in the Swam,p and that didn’t put Napier’s job outlook on skates. So, no, losing to a ranked Missouri squad on the road isn’t going to put his job in any more jeopardy than it already is. By that I mean, he isn’t in danger of getting fired this season, but every loss does increase the doubt level that he is the person who is capable of turning this thing around. I don’t know how much that even matters. What tends to get overlooked by many is that it would be all but impossible for AD Scott Stricklin to make a move. Firing Napier would basically be the same as handing himself a pink slip. It’s hard to believe that he would be allowed to stick around to hire his third football coach after failing the first two times.

Does Florida have a better chance against Missouri or FSU?

Weiss: FSU’s the better team — ranked higher, deservedly so. But the power of The Swamp is real. Or, rather, the black hole that is playing on the road for Napier’s Gators. If both of these final two games were neutral site, the answer would be Missouri. The Seminoles have earned that level of respect. But the fact that Florida’s facing the Tigers on the road and FSU in Gainesville is the world of difference. The Gators have a better chance at home. It’s that simple. So, FSU is the answer here.

Wheeler: I think we covered this one before the LSU game, and my mindset hasn’t changed. Florida’s chances of knocking off a ranked opponent in a road game are somewhere between slim and none. Yes, it could happen, anything could happen, but it’s unlikely. Based on what they have done on the road under Napier, very unlikely. Florida State on the other hand has looked beatable lately. When you factor in it is a home game, being played at night, and though the Gators are still considered the underdog, the chances for victory seem significantly better at home against FSU than they do on the road against Mizzou.


Weiss: Once again, Graham Mertz and the Gators’ offense plays well, but not well enough to keep up with a high-powered attack going up against a weak Florida defense. 41-31 Missouri

Wheeler: This is easy enough. To this point, Florida hasn’t been able to apply pressure on opposing quarterbacks, which leaves Brady Cook a lifetime to find Luther Burden, who the Gators almost certainly already didn’t have anyone capable of covering him one-on-one. That alone could be the difference, but then when you factor in a poor tackling team going against Schrader, it seems like this could be a one-sided affair. 45-21 Missouri

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