The Florida Gators (5-6, 2-6) were held out of bowl eligibility, at least for one more week, after losing to the Missouri Tigers (6-5, 3-4) 24-23 in overtime, a game that had plenty of implications for both Florida and potentially their head coach Dan Mullen.
The Gators will have an opportunity to reach bowl-game eligibility next week with a victory over the visiting 5-6 Florid
It was one of the worst offensive showings for Florida thus far this season, one that saw the team go three-and-out four times during the second half, including once at a critical point of the game. Florida would finish with just 360 total yards of offense on the day.
In a bizarre course of action, with just a minute left in the game, Mullen would play for overtime with the score of 16-16, running the football three times. That, of course, would come back to bite the veteran head coach as the team lost during the first overtime after a gusty call by Missouri coach Eliah Drinkwitz to go for two after scoring.
The first play at the end of regulation was a called draw. Nay'Quan Wright would slip, however, losing yards and putting Florida in a bad position to go for it much further.
It even confused former Gators long snapper Brett DioGuardi, who graduated last season.
During the first half of action, the Florida offense would look shaky at best, not able to really muster anything in the way of scoring production, forced to settle for two field goals during the half. While the team did account for 188 yards during the first half, 45 of those yards came on the final play of the half with two seconds remaining.
Gators QB Emory Jones would start the game for Florida, completing 15 out of 23 of his passes for 195 yards through three quarters of action. While it was efficient, 94 of the yards would come on just two plays on the day. He finished the game completing 20 out of 32 of his passes for 261 yards.
Not much of that would change during the second half of action as following the first-drive touchdown during half No. 2, the Gators punted three straight times, not getting much going offensively.
The opposite could be said from the Gators defense during the first half of action, as they played some of their best football. During the first half of action, the Florida defense held Missouri's best player, Tyler Badie, to just 10 total yards, including 19 rushing yards and -9 receiving yards.
Badie entered the matchup today having run for 200 or more yards four times on the year, an explosive playmaker for the Tigers offense. While the Gators were able to hold him during the first half of action, he'd show why he came in today as the SEC's leading rusher during the second half, accounting for 83 yards in the third quarter alone.
One of the defenses' best players, defensive lineman Zachary Carter, played a fantastic first half, accounting for 1.5 sacks, increasing his season total to eight on the year. Carter is headed to the Senior Bowl following the year after accepting an invite to play. Today marked Carter's final SEC game.
Starting in place of linebacker Jeremiah Moon, Ty'Ron Hopper was one of the team's most active defenders, at one point leading the team with six tackles, including two for a loss on the day. Though in a losing effort, Hopper was all over the field today, accounting for 12 tackles and two tackles for loss on the day.
But his play, along with the rest of the Florida defense's play, wouldn't be good enough with Florida eventually breaking, allowing Missouri to retake the lead during the fourth quarter via a 41-yard touchdown pass from Tigers QB Connor Bazelak to TE Niko Hea.
Missouri would take advantage of a serious miss-match on the play with Florida putting BUCK Khris Bogle on Hea on the play.
The Tigers would go up 16-13 with just 11:53 remaining in the contest.
The Gators would answer with a field goal to tie the game up at 16 on the next drive, going 59 yards to get it in range. Gators kicker Chris Howard connected on his third kick of the day, hitting all three and tying the game at 16.
Perhaps a drive of the day to illustrate just how disappointing the Florida offense was on the day, following a punt forced by the Gators defense the team's offense would quickly go three-and-out, accounting for -4 yards on the drive, a microcosm of the lack of execution on the day for the Gators.
After both teams failed to score to take the lead in regulation, the game would go to overtime with Florida getting the football first, scoring on a trick play from receiver Trent Whittemore to Jones to take a 23-16 lead.
Missouri would quickly answer with two runs with Badie for a touchdown, and then would go for two, converting and winning 24-23 during the first overtime. A terrible collapse by the Gators on offense, and the program as a whole in a must-win game.
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