Week 4 - Missouri at South Carolina
South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore
South Carolina RB Marcus Lattimore
Posted Sep 19, 2012

Week 4 CFN Fearless Prediction – Missouri at South Carolina

Missouri (2-1) at South Carolina (3-0) Sept. 22 , 3:30, CBS

Here's The Deal: South Carolina hasn't exactly taken the world by storm. After limping to an Opening Night win over Vanderbilt, the Gamecocks have been quietly fantastic blowing away East Carolina and UAB, but that's not enough. While Alabama has steamrolled through its first three games, and Florida has earned its stripes with road wins at Texas A&M and Tennessee, and Georgia was terrific at Missouri, South Carolina has been flying under the radar. However, the defense has been solid, the offense has worked despite an injury to quarterback Connor Shaw, and Marcus Lattimore hasn't looked like the pre-injury Marcus Lattimore. Now it's time to get a little bit splashy.

Beating Missouri at home wouldn't be as big as beating Georgia in a few weeks, and it certainly wouldn't have the impact of winning at LSU on October 13th or at Florida the week after, but it would show that the team needs to be put deep in the mix for the SEC East title. Even if it's not pretty, as long as it's an effective win all will be fine with the Gamecock world.

Missouri needs to come up with an SEC win and it needs to come up with one now. It's only the team's second conference game after getting steamrolled by Georgia a few weeks ago, and getting Vanderbilt at home will help, but the Alabama game is looming and the conference finishing kick at Florida, Tennessee and Texas A&M is brutal. After getting by a good Arizona State team, and with the way the team battled for the first three quarters against the Bulldogs, there's the potential to make some noise in the East, but it's going to take a minor miracle and something special to be in the hunt for the division title. Beating South Carolina in Columbia would be a start.

This is only the third time the two programs have met with Missouri winning the 2005 Independence Bowl in a thriller and coming up with a 24-14 victory in the 1979 Hall of Fame Classic.

Why Missouri Might Win: The Gamecocks haven't faced anyone yet with a strong short to midrange passing game. East Carolina can't really throw with any semblance of efficiency, and Vanderbilt was able to push the USC secondary, but Missouri is going to bring something different against a defensive backfield that's less than 100%. Akeem Auguste isn't back yet after missing time with a leg problem, and safety D.J. Swearinger has been suspended for a game after a helmet hit in the UAB game. South Carolina still has defensive back talent, and the pass rush should help make up for a slew of issues, but Missouri has a smart passing game if it's James Franklin or Corbin Berkstresser under center. Franklin missed the ASU game with a shoulder injury, but Berkstresser proved he could handle the workload.

If this is close and if it comes down to the special teams, Missouri has an advantage, at least in the return game, with Marcus Murphy averaging 19.18 yards per punt return and the team is averaging over 24 yards per kickoff return. South Carolina hasn't had any shots at kickoff returns so far and the punting game has been shaky. Kicker Adam Yates has made just one of two field goal attempts.

Why South Carolina Might Win: Yes, Missouri has a passing game, but it hasn't been as efficient as expected so far. There haven't been too many big plays down the field, and the consistency hasn't been there. Even though the Gamecocks might not have their full defensive backfield, Georgia's was in worse shape and the defense survived after a rocky start. If the USC offense is able to control the game early on by pounding away with Lattimore, everything should be fine.

That sound you heard was the drool hitting the floor this week when the Gamecock ends watched game film of Georgia's Jarvis Jones against Missouri. With top tackle Elvis Fisher out with a knee injury, the pass protection went bye-bye against the Dawgs with Jones turning in an All-America performance. Overall, the Tigers haven't been bad in pass protection, but they allowed two sacks last week and Jones made most of his big plays on the move and not just as a pass rusher, but South Carolina is about to bring something different from both sides. Jadeveon Clowney has been terrific with three sacks in his first three games, and while Devin Taylor has yet to come up with a sack, he has been active.

What To Watch Out For: Are the quarterbacks going to be able to go? South Carolina's Connor Shaw was bounced around in the opener against Vanderbilt, and he's probably not going to get his shoulder 100% until the offseason, but he's going to give it a go. The junior is growing into a passer, but he's at his best as a runner, taking off for 92 yards against the Commodores. If he gets hurt again or if he struggles, sophomore Dylan Thompson has proven he can get the job done throwing for 330 yards and three touchdowns against East Carolina and stepping in against UAB and cranking out 177 yards and two scores while running for another.

Last week, redshirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser took the reins for Mizzou and was fine, completing 21-of-41 passes for 198 yards with a key rushing score and a pick, but he's not Franklin. When Franklin is on, he's one of the best all-around quarterbacks in the SEC with the ability to carry the offense by himself. However, he has to get healthy and he has to fight through his shoulder problem. Fortunately, if he's not right, Berkstresser now has a game under his belt.

What Will Happen: The Tigers have the defensive front to hold Lattimore in check and to keep the Gamecock offense from getting on roll, but their O line is going to have problems keeping Clowney and company out of the backfield. Missouri will hit a few home runs, but the Gamecock defense will hold firm in the second half just enough to allow the running game to take over. The style points won't be there, but it will be an effective and hard fought win for Steve Spurrier.

CFN Prediction: South Carolina 24 .. Missouri 20
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) South Carolina -10 O/U: 48.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – Ray Lewis: A Football Life, 1 – Frankenweenie): 4