More than 20 Florida Gators (5-0, 3-0) overcame the flu last week before pulling off their biggest victory of the season, including star freshman quarterback Will Grier. But now the freshly minted No. 11 team in the country travels to take on a Missouri Tigers (4-1, 1-1) defense that has let very few opponents into their end zone.
Powered by Grier’s four first-half touchdown passes and a suffocating defense, the Gators chomped down then-No. 3 Ole Miss 38-10 for their biggest home victory over such a highly ranked opponent since 1999, and shot up 14 spots in the latest national rankings.
With six touchdown passes in the last two games, Grier’s now third in the SEC with 10 on the year with only three interceptions and he’s completing 67.2 percent of his attempts.
Florida did have some trouble establishing the run, with only 2.5 yards per carry and junior running back Kevlin Taylor needing 27 attempts to gain 83 yards, but the Gators defense held the Rebels to only 69 yards on the ground and forced four turnovers.
It was a compelling all-around performance against an Ole Miss offense that averaged nearly 55 points in its first four games of the season, including 43 points against perennial powerhouse and then-No. 2 Alabama.
Florida and first-year head coach Jim McElwain are now all alone atop of the SEC East as the only undefeated team, but face hungry a Missouri defense.
The Tigers are currently No. 7 in the nation with only 12 points allowed per game. Opponents have reached the end zone a mere seven times, and are successful on third-down conversions only 34.6 percent of the time.
Offense, however, has been Missouri’s glaring weak spot and the reason it fell out of the top 25. Head coach Gary Pinkel and the Tigers began the season ranked No. 24 in the nation, and rose as high as No. 21, but fell out of voters’ good graces with a narrow 9-6 victory over unranked Connecticut and a 21-13 loss at Kentucky, one of the SEC’s regular punching bags for the conference’s elite.
But the Tigers' attack showed major signs of improvement in last week’s 24-10 victory over South Carolina in freshman quarterback Drew Lock’s first career start.
Filling in for indefinitely suspended junior Maty Mauk, Lock fired off his two touchdown passes to leading receiver Nate Brown before halftime and the defense would intercept the Gamecocks on their next three possessions to sew up the win.
Betting Odds: Florida -4
Over/Under: 37.5 points
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: SEC Network
Live Online: Watch ESPN