Weekend Spotlight: South Carolina at Missouri
No. 21 South Carolina (5-2, 3-2 SEC) at No. 5 Missouri (7-0, 3-0 SEC)
Missouri leads the series 2-1 (Last meeting September 22, 2012: South Carolina 31, Missouri 10)
While South Carolina and Missouri may be young rivals in the new-look SEC, this year’s game has huge implications on how the SEC East will shape up this season. Missouri entered this year coming off an injury-plagued 5-7 season and didn’t receive a vote in either the AP or Coaches poll in the preseason. Expectations have curved upwards, as they enter the game undefeated and coming off back-to-back wins over top 25 teams (No. 7 Georgia and No. 22 Florida, respectively). South Carolina, on the other hand, entered the year as a top 10 team. After two early losses to SEC rivals Georgia and Tennessee, this is a pivotal game for them to keep alive their hopes of making it to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game.
South Carolina travels to the other Columbia, for its final road game of the season, finishing a three game road trip across the SEC. While much of the attention preseason for South Carolina was on reigning Hendricks Award winner and first team All-American Jadeveon Clowney and the defensive unit, the Gamecock offense has actually been its best-ever statistically. The offense is averaging 471.9 yards per game which is 43 yards more per game then their previous season-high. Sophomore running back Mike Davis has led the attack with six 100-yard rushing games this season. Davis also has 10 rushing touchdowns through seven games which is the eighth best total for an entire season for a South Carolina back. Quarterback Connor Shaw, who has thrown for 1307 yards, 11 touchdowns and just one interception on the season, is questionable after leaving last weekend’s game with a knee injury. If he is unable to go, the Gamecocks will turn to Dylan Thompson (who has appeared in six games this season) to replace him.
Missouri enters the game as one of the biggest surprise teams in the country thus far, leading the SEC East by two games. The Tigers have been led by a very impressive offense that is averaging 44.3 points per game, which is good for eighth nationally and second in the SEC. Mizzou and Oregon are the only two teams that have been able to win every game by at least 15 points. Quarterback James Franklin emerged as a Heisman candidate through six weeks, throwing for 1577 yards, 14 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions before he injured his shoulder midway through the Georgia game. Redshirt freshman Maty Mauk entered in his absence, setting a Missouri record for passing yards in a debut start with 295 yards. Mauk showed no nerves as he led a two-play, 76-yard drive on the first drive, culminating in his first-career touchdown pass. The Tigers’ defense has also been very good at helping the vaunted offense get on the field. The defense has forced a turnover every game this season and in 37 straight games, which is the longest active streak in the BCS. This season alone the Tigers have 14 interceptions and four fumble recoveries, giving them a plus-10 in turnovers.
-This weekend is the 102nd homecoming for Missouri. The NCAA credits Missouri with creating the idea of homecoming in 1911. The Tigers are 59-37-5 all time on homecoming weekend.