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PREGAMIN’ FLORIDA

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TIME TO ADMINISTER A DECISIVE BLOW TO THE DAN MULLEN ERA OF FLORIDA FOOTBALL

Drink Up!

Another somewhat quiet week for Drink aside from landing a JUCO DE commit for the 2022 class. I’m not used to Drink not getting up to antics... it’s the whole damn reason I renamed this section of Pregamin’ in the first place!

I am, however, anxious to see what (if anything) comes of the rematch from last year’s impromptu brawl that Dan Mullen decided to initiate. If Drinkwitz has any say in the matter, it’ll all be left in the past.

Of course, Drinkwitz had nothing to do with the brawl starting last year. If you’ll recall, Mullen sprinted over to the Tiger sideline before halftime and started berating Drinkwitz for a play he had nothing to do with before letting his team duke it out at midfield and doing nothing to dissuade them. He came out in the post-game dressed as Darth Vader, clearly forgetting that Darth Vader meets his end gasping for air on a failing space craft after realizing that he’s wasted his life and vast powers for the use of petty rage and revenge plots.

Who says art doesn’t imitate life?

Came Through Drippin’

Hey, it’s all black time!

I’m on record as not hating the oval tiger nearly as much as many of you weirdos. Perhaps it’s because it’s the logo I grew up with, but I find it to be a fine accenting logo when used in the right context, i.e. when the uniforms are monochrome. It helps things pop a little without standing out too much. Another worthy entrant into this year’s “Best Uniform” candidates.

What the “Experts” Are Saying

After many people wrote off Missouri following a bad stretch in September and October, the Tigers revived their post-season hopes with a win over South Carolina. Do you think Mizzou has turned a corner, or did they just take advantage of a bad team?

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Dryden, Staff Football Analyst: I think there has been some obvious improvement in a few areas. The defensive line has upped their play a notch and a half. That much is obvious. They held Georgia and South Carolina to a combined 225 yards on the ground. Compare that to the result against Tennessee where they gave over double the yards... It’s hard not to see that improvement. The opponent in South Carolina isn’t a world beater, but they seem to be a competent team on the rise, and we know how good Georgia is, so I think it’s fair to say that the team may have turned a corner.

Josh Matejka, Deputy Site Manager: Can it be both? I think it’s fairly obvious at this point that Missouri isn’t quite as bad as it looked in the Tennessee and Texas A&M losses. After all, they had a chance to beat Kentucky late in Lexington and played into OT in Chestnut Hill. Flip any of the one-score games on this ledger and Missouri is 6-4 with the potential for a really good season still on the line. They’ve clearly come out of rock bottom and are, if not ascendant, at the very least finding their footing.

However, it’s probably too early to say they’ve truly turned a corner. Even if they are on an upswing, a one score win over South Carolina at home is probably not the convincing evidence we’d need to see. If Missouri consistenly looks like they did in the first 75 percent of last week’s game, I’ll fully commit to them having figured it out. But I think we still need to see a little more.

Parker Gillam, Football Beat Writer: This team has certainly come a long way from that early slump. Tyler Badie is the same and Connor Bazelak is mostly the same. What has changed is the work in the trenches. Both offensive and defensive linemen have come leaps and bounds over the course of the season.

Bazelak is no longer being chased around the backfield, and the offense line appears to be playing as a more cohesive unit. The defensive front seven, which was dragged through the mud week after week early in the season, has drastically improved. As players such as Blaze Alldredge have said, the defense understands Wilks’ scheme now and is playing more downhill and with more confidence. This has resulted in great performances in defending the run against Georgia and South Carolina, and if this continues, then maybe we should hold off on the “Fire Coach Wilks’ talk for a while.

Many have been calling for a change in QB for the past few weeks, but Eli Drinkwitz has held firm with Connor Bazelak... until the end of last week’s win when Drink pulled him for Brady Cook in crunch time. Have we seen the last of, “Connor Bazelak: QB1,” or does he get another shot on Saturday?

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Dryden: I think Bazelak will get another start.

As the owner of pretty much all of the stock on Bazelak island, even I have to wonder if trotting him out there is a good idea. The turnovers have been killing this team, and he’s been at the forefront of that. He also hasn’t been healthy enough, or willing enough to use his legs to extend and pick up yards.

That being said, if Bazelak is getting another start, that should tell you what Eli Drinkwitz thinks about where his other QB options are. If Brady Cook or Tyler Macon were better, or could execute the game plan better, you have to believe that they’d be in the game at this point.

Obviously, Drinkwitz sees this differently.

Josh Matejka: All the rumblings we’re hearing certainly suggest that Drinkwitz is going back to Bazelak against the Gators and... I don’t know, man. I just don’t see it. Drinkwitz himself didn’t have enough faith in Bazelak to make good decisions and put things away against a bad South Carolina team last week, and that was after Bazelak brought the Gamecocks back with some seriously questionable decisions. Missouri is suddenly staring at a very possible bowl berth, and you mean to tell me that Drinkwitz’s best option is a guy who hasn’t made any quantifiable improvements from last season? The coach knows more than I do, but Drinkwitz’s continued faith in Bazelak over Cook or Macon baffles me.

Parker Gillam: I think Drinkwitz still has faith in Bazelak. Whether that be well-founded or not, it appears to be the case. There is no denying that he has the best grasp of the offense and is capable of playing at a high-level, but whether it be injuries or shaken confidence, Bazelak has just not been the same guy this season.

Still, I would argue that he gives this team the best chance to win. The only scenario I can see him being benched in is if he continues to toss head-scratching interceptions, especially early in games. The mistakes against South Carolina allowed the Gamecocks to take some early momentum, but against Florida and Arkansas, the margin for error will be slimmer. I can see Drinkwitz having a quick trigger, but I think Bazelak still starts.

Florida is a hot, hot mess right now, needing a career day from Emory Jones to save them from Samford one week after getting trampled by South Carolina. Dan Mullen is looking at the end of his Gator days. Is there any fight left in them, or are they cooked?

NCAA Football: Georgia at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Dryden: That guy Dan Mullen is COOKED.

The average Florida fan believes the should dominate teams like Missouri and if somehow they find a way to lose to Missouri, while also guaranteeing themselves nothing better than a 7-6 record, Florida fans will Florida. They’ll revolt, and it’ll get nasty like it does every four years.

I for one, cannot think of a better guy for this to happen to also.

Josh Matejka: It’s Florida, so you’re looking at a sort of dual reality here. Despite their heavily scrutinized focus on recruiting this season, they’re going to be pretty talented. But there also seems to be a sort of cyclical apathy that has crept into that program where every three years a disappointing season turns into a full-blown meltdown in the final month. Luckily, Missouri always seems to be there to capitalize. With the high standards Florida has, I can’t see how they settle for a loss to Mizzou and Florida State to end the season. But if Mullen can pull off at least one of those games (especially the season-capper against the Seminoles), I can see him returning for 2022.

Parker Gillam: This is a proud football program, and this is the dream job of the guy in charge. Dan Mullen is not the type of person to just roll over and die, and there is still a ton of talent on this team. A bowl berth is still on the line for the Gators, and they have a lot of young talent that they want to get on the field. Therefore, no, I do not think this program has given up on this team, and they are going to continue to play hard. Their defense may not be great, but at the minimum they are going to put plenty of points up on the board.

PICK ‘EM! Even with their struggles, DraftKings has Florida has a nine-point favorite over Missouri ahead of the game in Columbia. Can Missouri upset the books and secure bowl eligibility? If so, who needs to step up?

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Dryden: Florida being favored by 9 is actually really funny. They haven’t done anything deserving that kind of respect. It’ll be cold, it’s gonna be dark, and I have a feeling that Faurot Field may be rocking a little harder than usual.

I am smashing down Mizzou +9, and the Mizzou ML in this post and in real life too. Also, whatever the O/U for Tyler Badie’s total yards is, take the over.

31-21, Mizzou.

Josh Matejka: After the way Florida has played these past two weeks, I can’t imagine them winning this game by more than a touchdown, so the Vegas line puzzles me. For all the criticism Missouri’s defense has gotten (justified criticism, I should add), it seems to be improving at the right time. They’ll still have a hell of a time putting up with Florida’s running attack, but should be able to capitalize against the ashes of what used to be Todd Grantham’s defense.

I think this is probably more of a toss-up game than what anyone wants to think, and I can’t see either team running away with it. But I will say that going back to 2022, Drinkwitz seems to have an ability to make his players believe in themselves, even when things seem bad. That belief seems to have kicked in over the past few weeks, and it stands in stark contrast to what’s happening on Dan Mullen’s team. For that reason (and the cold weather), I’ll take Missouri by a score of 45-42. Bet the over, kiddos.

Parker Gillam: They certainly can and I think they will. Every college team has an extreme low and an extreme high during a season. Mizzou’s low was the Tennessee game, and their high will likely come in the final stretch of the season. This seems to be a more unified team than earlier in the year, and they appear to grasp what this coaching staff wants from them now. If the defense can continue their positive trend, then this team is capable of being who we through they were before the season.

Now, it certainly will not be easy. Florida’s offense is explosive and can go score-for-score with almost any team. It is going to take a clean day for Bazelak (no point in giving a bad Florida defense any easy takeaways) and another strong defensive performance to win this game. With two potent offenses and iffy defenses, it seems like a turnover or key special teams play will determine the outcome of this game. That screams one name based on how the season has gone: Kris Abrams-Draine.

I think Mizzou certainly covers, and I would tab the score as 31-28 in favor of the Tigers.