The 6-0 Missouri Tigers will have to continue their magical run without star senior quarterback James Franklin against No. 22 Florida on Saturday afternoon at Faurot Field.
The No. 14 Tigers have started their second SEC season with 45.7 points per game, and may have proved they are for real last week with a 41-26 crushing of Georgia on the road. However, Franklin was forced to leave with a separated right shoulder, and could reportedly miss upwards of six weeks of action.
Before the injury, Franklin had gone 18-for-27 for 170 yards and tossed his 14th touchdown of the season, and the Missouri defense forced four Bulldog turnovers, including two interceptions on their last two drives.
The injury to Franklin is unfortunate for a multitude of reasons, but the worst is the pivotal matchup against the Gators before next week's showdown with No. 11 South Carolina. The Tigers hold a one-game lead over the Gamecocks in the SEC East, and won't face another ranked opponent until Texas A&M in the regular season finale.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Maty Mauk will get the start against the Gators and the second best defense in the SEC. Mauk has appeared in three games, which includes his 3-for-3 23-yard passing performance in relief against Georgia.
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The Gators have given up nine total touchdowns, and are fourth in the nation with 13.0 points per game. Sophomore Dante Fowler leads the team with 3.0 sacks, and defensive back Vernon Hargreaves III has three interceptions and eight passes defended.
Though they padded their stats with weaker opponents, Missouri is sixth in the conference with 23.0 points surrendered a game. But the Tigers have also let up 419.3 yards per game.
Senior defensive end Michael Sam has tallied 6.0 of Missouri’s 17.0 sacks, the second best mark in the SEC.
He’ll captain the Tigers against Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy and leading receiver Solomon Patton who’s totaled 380 yards and four touchdowns. The Gators are 104th in the country with 21.8 points per game after scrapping together 240 yards and six points in the 17-6 letdown to LSU last week.
Murphy has filled in for the injured Jeff Driskell for the past month, with five touchdown passes, and junior Mack Brown should get plenty more touches with sophomore rusher Matt Jones out for the season with a torn meniscus.
“Nothing would be worse than losing to Missouri going into a bye week,” Murphy said to the Florida Times-Union. “That’s in the back of everyone’s head. Everyone is ready to go.”
Point Spread: Florida favored by 3 points
Over-Under: 42.5 points
Kickoff Time: 12:20 PM Eastern Time
Where To Watch Online: ESPN3
TV Channel: ESPN Game Plan
Prediction: Florida 24, Missouri 20