We are ranking every opponent on Missouri’s schedule from No. 12 to No. 1 before the start of the regular season. Here are the previous installments: The weak links, Feisty non-conference foes, The Volunteer State, Early litmus test and The Replacements.

In almost every preseason poll, Florida is third in the SEC East and Missouri is fourth. Or the opposite. Florida sneaks into the Top 25 and Missouri doesn’t. Missouri sneaks into the Top 25 and Florida doesn’t. They both sneak into the Top 25.

Either way, one of these teams will emerge as a third wheel in the SEC East along with Georgia and South Carolina. This game may largely determine which team gets the distinction.

3. at Florida

The most difficult part about this matchup? Missouri must travel to Gainesville, Fla., the week after playing at South Carolina and hosting Georgia (there’s a merciful bye week between the Gamecocks and Bulldogs).

Essentially, as far as the SEC East is concerned, the Tigers could be out of the race after this Oct. 18 matchup, or they could be in control.

Florida is one of the tougher teams in the SEC to figure. Will Muschamp, at least by all appearances, is coaching for his job this season after an embarrassing 4-8 mark that included losses to Vanderbilt and Georgia Southern late in the year.

The Gators fielded an atrocious offense punctuated by injuries, injuries, injuries, and conservative play-calling. Enter offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, the long-time David Cutcliffe henchman. Can corner Vernon Hargreaves and the Coach Boom-led defense avoid a drop-off? And can the offense show signs of life with a new system and a healthy Jeff Driskel?

You may not remember, but Florida nearly started 5-0 last season, but couldn’t flog Miami into submission due to four turnovers. The Gators are desperate. The key question for this game: Can Florida keep up with a dynamic offense like Missouri’s?

Mack Brown and Kelvin Taylor, son of Fred Taylor, will spearhead a strong running game. Quinton Dunbar, Demarcus Robinson and Virginia transfer tight end Jake McGee give Driskel some bodies to throw toward. The offensive line, perhaps hardest hit by injuries in 2013, also was one of the biggest problem spots, and Missouri, with that lengthy turnover streak everyone in Columbia is talking about this week, will want to swarm Driskel, hoping to force a key mistake or two.