(Columbia) (AP) – Florida has struggled to score all season, but the No. 22 Gators experienced problems on both sides of the ball Saturday at No. 14 Missouri.
The team allowed 500 yards in a 36-17 loss, the most under coach Will Muschamp since he arrived in 2011. The Gators (4-3, 3-2 Southeastern Conference) only gained 151 yards offensively as the Tigers (7-0, 3-0) bullied them at the line of scrimmage, sacking quarterback Tyler Murphy six times and flushing him out of the pocket throughout the game.
Florida now has more losses than all of last year, when it went 11-2 overall and 7-1 in the SEC.
“This is not a very good football team, and certainly not today,” Muschamp said. “I am pretty disappointed that we have not made more positive strides offensively at this point of the season.”
Maty Mauk threw for 295 yards in his first career start and Andrew Baggett converted five field goals for Missouri, which opened a two-game lead in the SEC East Division.
With James Franklin watching on the sideline in street clothes, Mauk put any doubts to rest about whether he was ready on the first play of the game with a 41-yard pass to L’Damian Washington and then a 20-yard toss to Bud Sasser for a 7-0 lead just 22 seconds in.
Missouri became the first conference opponent in 14 games to score at least 21 points against the Gators. It knocked off its second consecutive ranked opponent for the first time since 1973 and will face No. 11 South Carolina next week at home. The Gamecocks lost at Tennessee 23-21 on Saturday.
“This team is resilient, coming back from where we were last year,” Washington said. “I told Coach Pinkel, `We’ve got to stop talking bowl games around here. Let’s talk BCS, let’s talk national championships.'”
Florida is off before facing Georgia on Nov. 2 in Jacksonville.
Mauk entered the game having only thrown six passes this season, but three of those came in the final quarter of a 41-26 win at Georgia last week after Franklin suffered a shoulder injury that will keep him out at least two more games. Mauk completed 18 of 36 passes Saturday, including three for 37 yards or more down the sideline.
The 6-foot, 200-pound redshirt freshman capped the scoring with 6:30 remaining on a 17-yard scramble, prompting the 67,124 in attendance to perform the “Gator Chomp.”
“Backup quarterback?,” center Evan Boehm asked. “Maty would be starting anywhere else.”
Mauk also made a few ill-advised throws, as Brian Poole intercepted a pass with 3:34 left in the first half and almost had another in the same quarter but dropped it.
Murphy completed 15-of-29 passes for 92 yards and an interception for the Gators as he tried to escape Missouri’s defensive line all game. Freshman Kelvin Taylor, son of former National Football League running back Fred Taylor, ran for 74 yards on 12 carries in his fifth career game.
Murphy thought he had time on some of his missed throws despite absorbing three sacks from SEC-leader Michael Sam and one apiece from Kony Ealy, Matt Hoch and Shane Ray.
“They did a good job covering, but we’re got to find ways to make plays,” Murphy said. “I have to find ways to get guys the ball.”
The Gators only gained 61 yards in the first half – including nine rushing – but used six runs to drive 70 yards and pull within 23-17 with 46 seconds left in the third quarter. Missouri answered with a 33-yard field goal by Baggett following a 50-yard run by Henry Josey, who ran for 136 yards on 18 carries.
Baggett also converted from 19, 28, 39 and 43 yards to tie the school record in makes in a single game, as Missouri far exceeded the 13 points per game Florida allowed this season entering the matchup, the second-fewest in the SEC. In addition to Mauk’s 295 passing yards, the Tigers added 205 on the ground and had 24 first downs.
“Some of the pass game I can deal with,” Muschamp said. “But the run game, we had them in the box. We had six-man boxes vs. a five-man look, and we should not have been giving up what we did in the run game.”
Florida earlier narrowed its deficit to three on a 100-yard kickoff return by receiver Solomon Patton on the first play of the second half, but the Tigers responded with a 75-yard drive finished by a 6-yard scamper by Josey for a 20-10 advantage.
Florida drove 22 yards to the Missouri 28-yard line with 58 seconds left in the second quarter on its longest drive of the first half before Ealy burst through the line and forced Murphy to fumble on a sack. Missouri recovered to squelch the threat and end the half up 13-3.