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20 for 20: #19 - No offense necessary

Sometimes the best offense is a good defense (and special teams.)

Missouri v Florida Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images

In an effort to look back fondly at the successes of Tiger football, the Rock M Nation football staff compiled and ranked the greatest games of the past 20 years. There’s no science or math involved here: we simply listed what we thought were the 20 best games of the past 20 years and counted the votes. We’ll start with the games getting the fewest votes and work our way up to #1.

2014: Missouri 42 - Florida 13

If the defining memories of the 2007-2009 Mizzou Football teams are more offensively driven, it’s fitting to think of the 2013 and 2014 seasons as their defensive counterparts this century. Driven by voracious defensive lines, ball-hawking secondaries and linebackers that attracted tackles at the rate of a small black hole, the second and third seasons of the SEC era defined the Tigers as one of the conference’s (and the country’s) most dangerous defensive units.

No game exemplified this era more than the trouncing Mizzou handed to Florida on the night of October 18, 2014. Coming off a disappointing three-game stretch featuring a shutout against Georgia and an upset loss to Indiana, a win in the Swamp during Florida’s Homecoming weekend seemed like anything but a sure thing. A loss would’ve put the Tigers to 4-3, sounding alarm bells on what was supposed to be an encore to the astonishing 2013 campaign.

Going into the box score of this game blind would be an exercise in futility, mostly because the Tiger offense that night was, well, futile. Maty Mauk chucked up an all-time bomb, completing six passes for a grand total of 20 yards and a pick. The Tigers averaged 3.2 yards a rush and 1.1 yards a pass for a grand total of 119 total yards of offense, less than half of what the Gators would gain. Senior Darvin Ruise matched the offense’s entire touchdown output. No need to go on further — the Missouri offense was straight up abysmal.

And yet, they won. Not only did they win, they walked to a four-score victory.

There’s no doubt that Marcus Murphy was the hero of the night. Scoring touchdowns on a game-opening kickoff return, a five-yard run — the offense’s only touchdown of the evening — and a looooong punt return, Murphy was about the only spark Missouri showed on offense, and really most of his happened without the other starters on the field.

But the defense made sure the game was well in hand and stayed that way. Not only did they notch two touchdowns — Ruise’s interception and a scoop-and-score from Markus Golden — they also forced four additional turnovers, including two interceptions from Braylon Webb. Before the whistle sounded for the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Tigers had hung a cool 42 on the Gators on their home turf, with essentially no offense necessary.

The win would turn out to be precisely the jump-start Missouri needed. They ripped off five more wins in a row, clinching the SEC East for the second straight year and climbing all the way to No. 14 in the final AP poll.