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Florida-Missouri: Who Has Advantage In SEC Showdown?

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Maty Mauk must replace injured quarterback James Franklin, but Missouri has plenty of talent at receiver and running back to ease him into the game. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images.
Can quarterback Tyler Murphy win the battle of backup quarterbacks and keep Florida at the front of the SEC East race? Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images.

The SEC schedule keeps rolling in Week 8 of the college football season with Florida and Missouri as the week's big game.

The Tigers enter ranked No. 14 in the country after a big upset at Georgia last week, while the Gators come in ranked No. 22 after losing to LSU. A win by Florida gives every team in the SEC East one conference loss and keeps the SEC East race wide open. Missouri, on the other hand, is looking to move to 3-0 in conference play as games against South Carolina and Texas A&M still remain on the schedule.

While it's still too early to say the winner of this game is in the driver's seat for the division, the game's importance is significant in that push towards determining an eventual winner.

So, who has the advantage in Saturday's showdown?

The Case For Florida

Florida has one of the best defenses in the country, allowing 13 points per game. Even though they lost, they held LSU to 21 points, which is a feat considering LSU was averaging 45.5 points per game entering the contest.

The defense simply flies around to the ball and will cause problems all game. With 11 sacks on the year and eight interceptions, Florida's defense has given the offense plenty of chances to win games. 

The offense, on the other hand, has struggled throughout the year. No matter if it was Jeff Driskel before his injury or Tyler Murphy, the Gators never can seem to get in sync on the offensive side of the ball. In fact, the offense averages 21.8 points per game, which ranks 104th in the nation.

Even with the struggles, all it takes is one game to get things going.

The Case For Missouri

Missouri is going to be without starting quarterback James Franklin (shoulder), and instead will go with freshman Maty Mauk. Mauk is going to get his first extended look at playing time, but he has great receivers.

L'Damian Washington, Dorial Green-Beckham and Marcus Lucas are all great. Each has more than 300 receiving yards. Washington and Green-Beckham are in the Top 10 in the conference in receiving yards with Washington having a monstrous effort last week (115 yards).

Then there's the running game that features three talented backs in Russell Hansbrough, Henry Josey and Marcus Murphy. The trio has combined for 1,099 yards on the ground and 15 touchdowns this year. Their ability to move the chains will be key in allowing Mauk to settle into the game.

X-Factor

Mauk is the X-factor. If he can keep a cool head against one of the best defenses in the country, Missouri should have no problem winning this game. They have the running backs and receivers to get the job done. The only difference is, Mauk has to get the ball to those receivers so they can make plays.

The key is 21 points. If Mauk can lead the Tigers down the field and score points (field goal or touchdown), it's going to force the Florida offense to have to win the game.

Prediction

Despite Franklin being out for this game for the Tigers, Florida's offense doesn't have the skills to match what the Tigers can put up. Sure, they may not put up at least 38 points like they have in every other game this season, but they're too talented not to get at least 21 points.

Missouri 27, Florida 14