Florida vs. Missouri: Players Under Most Pressure in SEC Clash

Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIIOctober 19, 2013

GAINESVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 01:  Mack Brown #33 of the Florida Gators runs for yardage during the game against the Bowling Green Falcons at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on September 1, 2012 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Week 8 of the 2013 college football season will be highlighted by high-stakes battles between SEC rivals. Perhaps no game is more notable than the meeting between the rising No. 14 Missouri Tigers and the desperate-for-a-win No. 22 Florida Gators.

The question is, which players are under the more pressure entering this monumental clash?

Missouri enters Week 8 at 6-0 with SEC victories over the No. 15 Georgia Bulldogs and Vanderbilt Commodores. Gary Pinkel's club ranks in the top 10 in the nation in scoring offense, thus developing a reputation as a rising force.

Balance has been the key, as three separate players have 350-plus rushing yards and an additional three have at least 300 receiving yards.

The Gators haven't been so lucky, falling to 4-2 after losing 17-6 to the No. 6 LSU Tigers during Week 7. No facet of Florida's offense has been consistent, but the defense continues to shine against elite opponents.

For either team to win, the following players will need to step up in a high-pressure atmosphere.


Mack Brown, Florida Gators

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 12:  Mack Brown #33 of the Florida Gators avoids a tackle by Kwon Alexander #25 of the LSU Tigers during a game at Tiger Stadium on October 12, 2013 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  LSU won the game 17-6.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Position: Running Back

Class: RS Sophomore

2013 Season Statistics

6 GP; 91 ATT, 340 YDS, 3 TD; 4 REC, -2 YDS

Through six weeks, redshirt sophomore running back Mack Brown leads the Gators with 340 rushing yards. Brown also leads the team in rushing touchdowns, which suggests that he'd be the last person to face pressure.

Just don't judge the numbers without looking a little deeper.

Thus far, Brown is averaging 3.7 yards per carry and has just one carry for a 20-plus-yard gain. Furthermore, Brown ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns in Florida's season-opener against Toledo and has since gone for 228 yards and one score in five games.

Florida needs him to start producing in a more dependable manner if it's going to turn things around.

Brown will need to be the Gators' leader on the ground after Matt Jones suffered a season-ending knee injury, per Jason Lieser of The Palm Beach Post. Jones had run for 226 yards during his previous two games before going down against LSU.

If Brown can step up, Florida will win games. If he doesn't, it'll be an ugly season for the Gators.


Maty Mauk, Missouri Tigers

ATHENS, GA - OCTOBER 12:  Maty Mauk #7 of the Missouri Tigers passes against Jordan Jenkins #59 of the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on October 12, 2013 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Position: Quarterback

Class: RS Freshman

2013 Season Statistics

2 GP; 5/6, 41 YDS, 0 TD, 0 INT

The Tigers have been one of the most pleasant surprises of the 2013 college football season, reaching 6-0 with a signature win over Georgia. At the heart of the success has been quarterback James Franklin, who has 14 passing touchdowns and three rushing scores to three interceptions.

Unfortunately, Franklin went down with a shoulder injury and will miss three-to-five weeks.

Redshirt freshman Maty Mauk will start in his place.

Losing a star hurts, but the Tigers haven't written off the future of their season just yet. Unfortunately, the season will rage on as Missouri faces the No. 22 Florida Gators and the No. 11 South Carolina Gamecocks in consecutive games.

The pressure is on Mauk to not only shine, but lead the Tigers to victories that can only be viewed as upsets.

Mauk was a highly acclaimed player coming out of high school, and possesses a good feel for the spread offense. Unfortunately, Mauk's inexperience won't get him off of the hook if Missouri fails to beat Florida.

Fair or foul, that's the way it is.


Tyler Murphy, Florida Gators

BATON ROUGE, LA - OCTOBER 12:  Tyler Murphy #3 of the Florida Gators drops back to pass against the LSU Tigers during a game at Tiger Stadium on October 12, 2013 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  LSU won the game 17-6.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Position: Quarterback

Class: RS Sophomore

2013 Season Statistics

4 GP; 54/81, 645 YDS, 5 TD, 1 INT; 34 ATT, 122 YDS, 2 TD

The Florida Gators haven't had a reliable quarterback since Tim Tebow graduated in 2010. There have been strong performances, but in terms of pure consistency, the Gators have been searching for answers for far too long.

Now, it's Tyler Murphy who's showing signs of inconsistency.

Murphy turned heads by going 16-of-22 for 240 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions against Arkansas on Oct. 5, 2013. One week later, Murphy was just 15-of-27 for 115 yards as Florida fell 17-6 to the LSU Tigers.

To make matters worse, Murphy suffered a reported shoulder injury.

It's admirable that he's going to play, but Murphy's injury won't excuse his quality if it's not up to par.

During Week 8, Murphy will need to prove he can be the Gators' quarterback moving forward. A win over Missouri would help to salvage Florida's dreams of winning 10 regular-season games, while a loss would put the Gators at 4-3 with games against Georgia, South Carolina and the Florida State Seminoles remaining.

This is nothing short of must-win territory for Florida, and no player is facing that pressure like Murphy.