Consecutive non-conference wins has restored some confidence in Missouri's football team as it prepares to play Florida on Saturday. (File)

By Spencer Gleason

The Missouri Tigers return home and to SEC competition on Saturday in an unfamiliar position – riding a two-game winning streak.

Non-conference wins over Idaho and at UConn have restored some pride in the Tigers’ program, but they are still looking for their first conference win on Saturday.

The game against Florida in Columbia is the first of four SEC games to end the season, all against teams that have had their own share of problems in the league this season.

Saturday’s game begins at 11 a.m. and will be televised on ESPN2.

Florida arrives to the Show-Me State as a team in flux, following now former head coach Jim McElwain and the university’s athletic department mutually agreeing to part ways on Sunday. The news came after their 42-7 loss against Georgia last week, Florida’s third consecutive loss.

The Gators named defensive coordinator Randy Shannon interim head coach. At a press conference earlier this week, Shannon said his Gators are chomping at the bit to get back on the field and focused on the Tigers.

“Anytime that you’re a competitor, you have to compete at a high level, no matter what the circumstances,” he said. “Sometimes guys are sick or aren’t feeling well, but you still have to compete. And this is an opportunity for us to compete at a high level.”

Despite Florida’s coaching change, Missouri coach Barry Odom expects the Gators to be focused on Saturday.

“I think, if you look offensively and defensively, kind of what they’ve done up until this point, I would imagine that they would stay pretty true to that,” he said.

Missouri’s high-powered passing attack will have a test against Florida’s defense. The Tigers are 12th in the country and second in the SEC averaging 325.8 yards per game through the air, but the Gators’ passing defense is ranked 34th in the nation, allowing just 195.3 yards per game.

“Their quarterback, (Drew) Lock, and receiver, (J’Mon) Moore, are doing a tremendous job, right now,” Shannon said. “Those are two guys on offense that are doing a great job. And they have two running backs, right now, who are starting to pick up the pace a little bit.”

The Tigers will again be without Damarea Crockett but have relied on senior Ish Witter and freshman Larry Roundtree III in his absence. Last week, the duo combined to rush for 133 yards on 16 carries against the Huskies.

Lock leads the country with 28 passing touchdowns, with four receivers each collecting at least four of those passes. Moore and Albert Okwuegbunam have seven touchdowns while Johnathon Johnson and Emanuel Hall each have four. In addition, Jason Reese has three.

Shannon has opened the Gators’ quarterback position. Felipe Franks has made six starts this season. The 6-foot-5 freshman has completed 75-of-125 passes for 830 yards.

Senior Malik Zaire came in relief of Franks against last week against Georgia and went 3-for-6 for 36 yards and rushed for 30 yards of his own on two carries. Junior Luke Del Rio completed 7-of-11 passes for 64 yards in his start against Vanderbilt this season. Florida won that game, 38-24.

The Gators will be without starting running back Malik Davis. Florida’s leading rushing will miss the rest of the year because of a knee injury. Instead, Lamical Perine and Mark Thompson are expected to split time against Missouri.

Florida and Missouri have met six times with each team winning three games and the two programs have combined to win the last four SEC Eastern Division titles.