Florida vs. Missouri: Gators playing to stay alive in SEC East
One year after Missouri struggled through an injury-plagued 5-7 season in its first year in the SEC, the undefeated Tigers sit atop the SEC East and will host Florida Saturday afternoon.
Kickoff is set for 12:21 p.m. and will be televised on the SEC Network.
Florida (4-2, 3-1 SEC) is in a must-win situation against the Tigers (6-0, 2-0) if it wants to keep its SEC East title hopes alive.
"It's a real big game, not only for the offense but just for our football team," senior RG Jon Halapio said. "Just for that confidence booster going into the bye week. You know, if we just handle business the right way, I mean all of our goals are still in front of us. But if we don't handle business and play like how we usually play, then those goals don't mean nothing."
Florida is coming off its first conference loss, a 16-7 defeat at the hands of LSU last week, but remains undefeated in the SEC East. Immediately after the LSU loss, Florida coach Will Muschamp reminded the Gators they still have a lot to play for, and it has been a major theme all week.
"I've been here four years and I still haven't gone to Atlanta," DB Cody Riggs said. "So that's still in front of us. That's the main goal. You get to Atlanta and good things happen.
“We haven’t lost to a team in the east yet," added S Marcus Roberson. "So we just have to win on out Georgia, South Carolina and Missouri who’s coming up. We just have to win out and keep positive mind and can’t let the past or games we’ve lost effect our season ahead of us.”
Missouri is undefeated in conference play and even without injured starting QB James Franklin, the Tigers are a formidable opponent for the Gators. But the players said there's no doubt in their minds they'll be ready.
“We always bounce back,"Riggs said. "That was a rough game for us, but we’ll bounce back. I know our defense will step up and our offense will step up.”
In reality, every conference game from here on out is a must-win for the Gators, a challenge they say they're prepared to handle.
"You know when you can control your own destiny you don't have to hope and pray for somebody else to lose," linebacker Mike Taylor said. "Knowing that if you win every game that you can reach all your goals that's always a good thing. You know we were in this position last year. We were in this position the year before that. We've blown it two years in a row, so like we've all been saying, we're not going to blow it this year. We're going to take advantage of the opportunities that we have this year and not blow them like we did in the past."
"I think coach Muschamp hit it right, that from here on out's a one-game season," Halapio said "So we've got to play every game like it's our last."
Florida coach Will Muschamp breaks analyzes Missouri: