The Missouri offense has been nothing short of a well-oiled machine this season, scoring 45.7 ppg (second in SEC) while displaying some of the best balance in the nation with 239.3 rushing yards and 276.3 rushing yards per game, but those lofty marks will be tough to reach in the coming weeks without its star quarterback.
James Franklin had accounted for 1,577 passing yards, 290 rushing yards and 17 total touchdowns to just three interceptions prior to suffering a shoulder injury in the Georgia game that will likely cause him to miss 3-5 weeks. In his absence, Maty Mauk will get the call under center, and he completed all three of his pass attempts in relief last week.
"I came in and everybody just told me to keep calm," Mauk said. "So I came in and got the plays to our guys. We executed well at the end. We scored when we needed to."
Without Franklin, the Tigers are expected to lean even more heavily on their stable of running backs. Russell Hansbrough leads the way with 391 yards to go with three touchdowns. Henry Josey (358 yards) gets his number called around the goal line often, cashing in with seven scores, and Marcus Murphy (350 yards, five TDs) is arguably the most explosive of the three, averaging 8.8 yards per carry.
Luckily for Mauk, he has plenty of talented receivers to throw to. Marcus Lucas is effective in moving the chains with 30 catches for 301 yards, while L'Damian Washington (29 receptions, 455 yards, seven TDs) and Dorial Green- Beckham (27 receptions, 399 yards, four TDs) are outstanding down field and in the red zone.
In addition to an outstanding offense, Missouri also sports a defense capable of pulling its weight, allowing just 23.0 ppg with a SEC-leading 13 interceptions.
Kentrell Brothers is the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Week after logging 10 tackles and an interception versus Georgia, giving him 29 stops and three picks on the season. Andrew Wilson has a team-high 44 tackles, E.J. Gaines also has three interceptions, and Michael Sam is one of the nation's premier defensive linemen with 10.0 TFL, 6.0 sacks and a forced fumble.
Just when Missouri appeared to be ascending towards the nation's elite, it was dealt a devastating blow with the loss of its quarterback and senior leader, but the Tigers showed they can overcome adversity last week by closing out the Georgia game without Franklin. Florida's top-notch defense has the potential to feast on the inexperienced Mauk, but the Gators' offense doesn't appear to be much of a threat, especially on the road against a solid foe. Figure for the Tigers to remain undefeated and continue their meteoric rise in the national rankings.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Missouri 24, Florida 21