Missouri-Florida Preview

Because of a miserable performance in its first loss of the

season, Florida now needs help to reach the SEC championship

game.

The No. 8 Gators also have to take care of Missouri during their

conference finale Saturday afternoon in Gainesville.

Before last weekend, Florida was in line to make its first SEC

title game since its then-No. 1 ranked team, led by Tim Tebow, lost

to No. 2 Alabama in 2009. All the Gators had to do to get back to

Atlanta was defeat Georgia, but they committed six turnovers – two

more than in their first seven games combined – during a 17-9 loss

in Jacksonville.

Jeff Driskel fumbled twice and threw two interceptions after

giving away the ball only twice in his team’s 7-0 start. Tight end

Jordan Reed also fumbled near the goal line late in the game.

“Hopefully I got it out of my system. You’ve got to learn from

mistakes. Got the mistakes out of the way, learn from them and try

not to make the same mistakes again,” said Driskel, who was also

sacked five times.

To win the SEC East crown, Florida (7-1, 6-1) needs to win

Saturday and have either Mississippi or Auburn defeat Georgia over

the next two weeks.

“I told the team in the locker room. You won together, now we’ll

find out how you handle adversity,” coach Will Muschamp said. “We

got a bunch of down guys in there and I totally understand it, but

we’ve got to regroup here. … We need to push through this. No

question. There’s a lot of football to play.”

Although it got off to a strong start, Florida wasn’t exactly at

its best offensively over the last few weeks. Mike Gillislee has

run for 181 yards over the past three games after gaining 548 over

his first five.

Driskel hasn’t topped 200 yards in any of his last four games.

He had 185 in the loss to Georgia after failing to reach triple

digits in his previous three contests. The Gators rank 102nd out of

124 FBS teams in total offense and 118th in passing.

“I think people have done a better job of adjusting to some of

the things we’re doing,” Muschamp said. “You know in our league

they catch up pretty quick with you as far as the things you’re

doing. … We got whipped at the point of attack, quite frankly. We

need to win some of those.”

Florida will try to win those battles against Missouri (4-4,

1-4), which is seeking to build on its first SEC victory and earn

its first on the road. Quarterback James Franklin will try to lead

his team to that milestone win in what’s expected to be his first

start since injuring his knee in a loss to Vanderbilt on Oct.

6.

“He really made great strides all of last week and we expect him

to get better and better and better, get more confidence,” coach

Gary Pinkel said. “I think he got some confidence playing in that

game and then we will determine what we do with him and what we ask

him to do. We are anticipating him being very close to being 100

percent.

Franklin replaced Corbin Berkstresser in a home game against

Kentucky this past Saturday but the Tigers mostly ran the ball in a

33-10 victory. Kendial Lawrence had 108 of the team’s 186 yards and

two touchdowns.

Missouri had been outscored 133-55 over its previous four

conference games, with three against ranked teams. The Tigers fell

31-10 in their first – and so far only – SEC road game against

then-No. 7 South Carolina on Sept. 22.

Missouri is making its first visit to Gainesville and playing

Florida for the first time since a 20-18 win in the 1966 Sugar

Bowl.