Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Year 2 for Mizzou Is Golden; Last Year Was a Tough Introduction to the SEC; This Year Tigers Sit in First Place

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Year 2 for Mizzou Is Golden; Last Year Was a Tough Introduction to the SEC; This Year Tigers Sit in First Place

Article excerpt

Byline: Adam Pincus

A year makes all the difference in the Southeastern Conference. Last season, then-No.8 Florida squeaked out a win on a late-fourth quarter interception thrown by Missouri quarterback James Franklin.

Now a year later, the No. 22 Gators (4-2, 3-1 SEC) make their first-ever trip to Columbia, Mo., on Saturday to face No. 14 Missouri Tigers (6-0, 2-0) at Faurot Field.

Missouri, just off an upset win against Georgia, is a far cry from the team that struggled through its SEC schedule, losing six of eight games in its first year in the conference. It's ranked near the top of every SEC offensive category and leads the conference in interceptions and turnover margin.

"They're a team you've got to respect," UF offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. "I never said I didn't respect them, or we didn't as a team, but I think within the league, they probably took that type of attitude from some people."

Florida set out to give the Big 12 intruders a rude welcoming to the SEC. Gary Pinkel, in his 13th year at Mizzou, had a sub-.500 season for the first time in eight years.

If a miserable first SEC season showed that the Tigers weren't ready, their win last week in Athens, Ga., showed they're a major player.

"Honestly, I don't know if we did or if we didn't, but within our team we are very confident," Tigers defensive end Shane Ray said following the win. "We are coming off a great win and we are just going to keep grinding, keep pushing to get more victories."

Saturday marks a crossroads for both teams. For Missouri, another victory against SEC royalty would help solidify its place in the conference. A loss brings the Tigers down to Earth. For Florida, a victory gives it confidence heading into the bye week. A loss would send its season in a downward spiral with three games remaining against top-15 teams.

"Nothing would be worse than losing to Missouri going into a bye week," UF quarterback Tyler Murphy said. …

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