Missouri headed into The Swamp, dressed as ghosts, trying to scare the Gators with specters of Missouri games of the past, namely the 2014 and 2018 surprise blow-out victories.
Instead, Missouri had the ghosts of their own past haunt them, namely the Tiger teams that featured ineffective offenses, held back by woeful offensive lines, and a defense that did all they could until collapsing late.
Losses suck, especially when they are such one-sided beat downs like this. At least it was expected against Alabama, and against Tennessee we left with the promise of Connor Bazelak moving forward. This game? Not much to take away from it, other than a friendly reminder that Florida - regardless of practice time or COVID losses - is really freaking good and Missouri is still a rebuild in progress.
Here’s the advanced box score. It’s bad!
Florida had one more possession and only seven more plays but doubled up the total yards, almost doubled up yards per play and possession, and generated three more scoring opportunities with 1.7 more points scored per trip. Those aren’t the only reasons Florida won...but very few teams are going to lose when they have such lopsided advantages like Florida did.
Here were the key stats the Tigers had to focus on to try and hang with the Gators. You probably have a decent idea on if they were accomplished or not.
Missouri’s Offense vs. Florida’s Defense
Because the Florida defense was incredibly susceptible to efficiency plays, I wanted to see the Missouri ground game have a 50% success rate with a 45% opportunity rate.
What we got instead was a 30% success rate and a 35% opportunity rate.
Yes, dear reader, a defense that allowed offenses to churn out 4-yard gains on 48% of their carries on the year was able to keep Missouri’s offense at a 35% opportunity rate.
Pretty much confirms what you saw: Missouri’s offensive line was totally outclassed.
Here’s another unfortunate turn for the worse! Florida was allowing a 55% success rate on passing downs coming in to this game while Missouri was a healthy 33rd in passing downs success rate. Because of that I was hoping to see a 40% success rate or better from the Tigers on passing downs.
Missouri faced 22 passing downs and had a successful play on four of them. FOUR!
Finish your dang drives
5 scoring opportunities and generate more than 4 points per opportunity was the goal. The Tigers did get their 5 scoring opportunities (4 minus the Pick 6) but managed only 3.4 points per trip (2.5 minus the Pick 6).
Missouri’s Defense vs. Florida’s Offense
Win on Third Down
I was hoping Missouri could keep Florida under 45% conversion on 3rd-downs to minimize the impact of an elite Florida offense and give Bazelak and the boys more cracks at scoring. And, truth be told, the Tiger defense stepped up, holding the Gators to 4-13 on 3rd-downs, an excellent 30%.
The problem was that only 15 of their 72 plays were on 3rd or 4th down, usually staying within 1st and 2nd as they zipped down the field. So, yes, Missouri met this goal but it ended up not mattering because Florida is just too dang good.
I asked the Missouri defense to force at least two turnovers and, lo and behold, they did! The problem was that Florida recovered two turnovers as well. I envisioned this game as a back-and-forth game where the winner broke serve a couple of times to pull ahead. Boy was I wrong!
Success rates gives you a pretty good idea of game flow and who’s in control. That has never been more true than this quarterly success rate break down:
Missouri was hanging tough for a full quarter, fell apart in the middle, then rallied in the 4th when the game was over. Florida, meanwhile, just got stronger as the game went on. That 2nd and 3rd quarter for Missouri were the two worst quarters of offensive football all year. Yes, worse than even the Alabama game.
Tiger 3rd-downs were bad but it all starts on 1st-down:
Gaining an average of three yards on first down is a recipe for disaster. You want to know why Florida had such an easy time shutting down Bazelak and the offense? Because the Tigers were constantly put in passing situations and Florida excels at shutting down big plays. Pretty simple, huh?
This will hopefully be the worst running game box score we see all season:
2.8 yards per carry? The line could only get running backs half-a-yard per carry? Running the ball was only successful 30% of the time and got 4-yard 35% of the time? And 20 runs were stuffed 30% of the time? FCS teams have better performances than that against FBS competition. The Florida defensive line just mauled all night.
When is the last time Missouri won a road game?
“They beat Arkansas last year on the road!” you, a straw man in my head, happily share. Yes, but it wasn’t played on Arkansas’ campus and the Razorbacks were one of the worst teams in the country last year, almost as bad as Vanderbilt and kansas.
The last time Missouri won a road game against a team of actual talent and skill - and interest in playing - was Tennessee in 2018. From 2016-2019, Missouri was 7-13 on the road with 17 of those road tilts being against P5 competition (5 wins, 12 losses); this year they are 0-2 on the road, both against P5 (and conference!) opponents. It’s always tougher to play on the road, sure, but it would be nice to not have to write off the Tigers when they hit the road. The back half of the schedule provides a good opportunity to nab a few road wins at South Carolina and at Mississippi State.
Also, over the first five games, Missouri has scored more than 20 points one time.
Part of this is the competition: four ranked teams in the first five games is incredibly tough Missouri’s strength of schedule is currently 4th in the entire country - so it’s hard to project too much from that. But, still, it’s worth noting that only LSU’s abysmal defense has allowed Missouri to crest 20 in a single game. Along with a road win, it’ll be nice to see the Tigers hit a 24 or a 30 every once in a while.
LSU and Kentucky might be full-on-bad this year but that’s ok because Missouri was supposed to be pretty bad as well. We forgot that as we had three straight weeks of savoring two wins that were tough to come by in the previous regime. I do find it odd that the fanbase talked itself into winning this game; I understood the enthusiasm, and thought Mizzou would at least cover, but Florida - for all its warts - is a Top 10 team and Missouri is most definitely not. It sucks that Missouri lost so badly but there’s till plenty to play for and build towards. We all get a bye week to process and recover and then we gear up to face an elite defense in Georgia.