Missouri Tigers football hasn’t been blessed with the glitz and glamour they’d hoped to have at the beginning of the season. Injuries, high snaps and careless turnovers have set the tone of the 2012 season thus far.
But is Mizzou really as bad off as many fear? Five more points against the Vanderbilt Commodores and we’d be talking about a 5-3 Missouri squad that only lost to the Georgia Bulldogs, South Carolina Gamecocks and Alabama Crimson Tide.
College football is a game that hinges on two major factors: emotion/momentum and match-ups. Missouri finally has the big psychological obstacle out of the way in their first SEC win this past Saturday, giving them some great momentum and confidence. Their upcoming opponent, the Florida Gators, have just come off of a a deflating loss to their rival Georgia. Confidence isn’t exactly high after committing six turnovers against Georgia.
Turnovers just happens to be the Mizzou specialty. In fact, Missouri has forced a turnover in 26 straight games, an absolute testament to the tenacity of the Tiger defense. In case that doesn’t catch your eye, they lead the nation in forced fumbles with 17 on the season.
Which brings us to the match-up element of this game. The Florida offense has struggled at points this year, and it finally caught up with them against Georgia as they were only able to put nine points on the scoreboard. Defense just happens to be Missouri’s strong point, as defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson leads the Tiger team in tackles from his position, a rarity for a tackle.
Mizzou quarterback James Franklin is back from injury and is expected to be back to his old self. The problem with Franklin to start the season is that he was unable to practice the entire spring after coming off of shoulder surgery. With so much more time put in practicing with the first team offense, Mizzou could finally be ready to show everyone what they felt they were capable of when the year started.
Let’s not forget that this is a Missouri team that led against Georgia deep into the third quarter.
For Mizzou to come away with the “W” on Saturday, they will need to exploit Florida’s weaknesses. Their young offensive lineman Chaz Green, who has been decent for most of the season, got absolutely dusted against Georgia and didn’t look good for most of the game. If Missouri’s ends can consistently beat Green and harass the Gator backfield, they could have much more of a chance than many are giving them.