The last time Missouri entered halftime with an 11-point lead over a ranked opponent, well, just go ahead and look back at the Tigers’ loss to Kentucky last week.
The offense took its foot off the gas and went stagnant throughout the second half, going three-and-out on all eight possessions. It wasted a strong performance from Missouri’s defense, who kept the Tigers in the lead until the very last play of the game.
Drew Lock and Co. were not about to let that happen against Florida.
The senior quarterback threw for 124 of his 250 yards in the second half and picked up two of his three touchdowns, and Missouri’s defense kept the Gators to just seven second half points as the Tigers took a big 38-17 victory over Florida.
Throughout the first half, Missouri defense showcased exactly why the Tigers led for most of the loss to the Wildcats.
On both of Florida’s first two drives, Missouri was able to keep the Gators out of the end zone. The Tigers forced a punt on the first drive, and although they let Florida get to their 15-yard line, they managed to make the Gators settle for a field goal to make it a 3-0 game.
The same success wasn’t shared with Missouri’s offense on its own opening drives. Although the Tigers managed to end a streak of eight-straight three-and-out dating back to last week on the opening drive, they were still forced to punt twice to open the game, stretching that particular streak to 10.
Its next offensive drive, though, is when Missouri got going.
Lock went a perfect 5-for-5 in the air as he led the Tigers 49 yards down to Florida’s 27, and Larry Rountree III capped off the drive with a powerful 27-yard rush to put Missouri up 7-3. The defense forced three-and-outs on the next two Gator possessions, and Lock then put his team up by 11 when he hit a wide open Albert Okwuegbunam with a 22-yard touchdown pass.
Damarea Crockett and Florida’s Feleipe Franks traded short-yardage rushing touchdowns over nearly eight minutes, and the Tigers went into the locker room still up 11.
Many doubted Missouri’s ability to bounce back from the last-second loss to Kentucky, and some still doubted the Tigers when they entered the second half ahead of the Gators. And, really, why shouldn’t they have been doubted?
Missouri laid a goose egg on the scoreboard in the second half against the Wildcats while compiling just 49 yards of offense. Why expect anything different this time around?
On both sides of the ball to open the half against Florida, the Tigers looked like a team that should’ve blown Kentucky out of the water.
Lock and Kam Scott connected on a 41-yard touchdown on Missouri’s first possession, and then Lock found Emanuel Hall on a 4-yard slant route for a touchdown — Hall’s first since Week 2, which also gave Lock sole possession of third place on the all-time Southeastern Conference passing touchdown leaderboard with 90.
Meanwhile, the defense continued to match the success its had in recent weeks.
The Tigers kept Florida off the board for most of the third quarter, and they especially made life hard for Franks. The sophomore went 2-for-4 for just five yards before he went to the bench in favor of Kyle Trask. While it was going to be tough for Trask to lead a Gator comeback, he provided another solid backup quarterback performance against Missouri, going 10 of 18 for 126 yards and even picking up a touchdown pass to end the quarter.
By the start of the fourth, though, Missouri was up by 18 and in run-the-clock-mode. The Tigers shaved over six minutes off the clock to open the quarter, and Tucker McCann kicked one through the uprights from 40 yards out to give Missouri a 21-point lead.
The Tigers kept Florida off out of the end zone for the remainder of the game, and a huge 13-yard sack by Tre Williams put the stamp on an impressive all-around showing by Missouri.