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Week 9 - South Carolina at Missouri
Posted Oct 23, 2013

Week 9 Fearless Prediction - South Carolina at Missouri

- Kentucky at Mississippi State | Vanderbilt at Texas A&M
- Tennessee at Alabama | South Carolina at Missouri
- Furman at LSU, FAU at Auburn, Idaho at Ole Miss

South Carolina (5-2) at Missouri (7-0) Oct. 26, 7:00, ESPN2

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Now it’s for real. Beating Vanderbilt was fun, and whacking Georgia set the tone, but hanging 36 with relative ease on a Florida defense that came into the game ranked among the nation’s best showed just how serious an SEC title contender Missouri really is. But it’s the SEC, which means the fun never stops – unless you’re Alabama this year – and the schedule doesn’t let up, with Ole Miss and Texas A&M still to face along with next week’s home game against Tennessee.

After a dud of a start to life in the SEC going 5-7, Missouri has already had a successful season, but the realistic goals have quickly changed. Yes, the Tigers got to play a Georgia team with almost no skill talent left to help out Aaron Murray. Yeah, they caught Florida the week after it lost top running back Matt Jones and didn’t have quarterback Jeff Driskel or its best player, defensive tackle Dominique Easley. Now, it looks like they’re going to catch the Gamecocks without starting quarterback Connor Shaw, who suffered a knee injury late in the loss to Tennessee. However, they lost starting quarterback James Franklin and survived last week against the Gators, and South Carolina has to take advantage of Maty Mauk now that the D knows what it’s dealing with.

Even with the loss to the Vols, and even at 4-2 in conference play, the Gamecocks are still alive.

Some of those same breaks Mizzou got against opponents should help USC, too. Now, by winning out, and if Georgia can lose once more, and if the Tigers can lose to Ole Miss or Texas A&M – not a stretch – Steve Spurrier’s team will be in the SEC championship. However, if Missouri can win, it’ll have a two-game lead over Georgia and Florida – and the head-to-head tie-breaker – and it’ll be three up on South Carolina. Essentially, barring a total gag, the Tigers can book their tickets to Atlanta with a win.

Why South Carolina Might Win: Again, it’s one thing to face a new, talented quarterback without being able to properly scout him, and it’s another to have game film to go off of. The South Carolina defense should be able to pin its ears back to get into the backfield against a good Missouri offensive line, but not a great one. The Tiger quarterbacks are mobile enough to scramble around a bit and buy time, but they’ve taken a few too many sacks. The Gamecock pass rush has been underwhelming so far considering the talent, but Kelcy Qualres has been good at getting into the backfield and Jadeveon Clowney is overdue to shine – No. 7 was good in last year’s win coming up with 1.5 sacks. Get more pressure on Mauk, and big mistakes might come. However …

Why Missouri Might Win: The South Carolina pass defense can get beaten deep and might have big problems with the very big, very talented Mizzou receivers. Is there the firepower to keep up the pace with a Tiger attack that’s balanced, effective and consistent? The Gamecock pass rush has been okay, but the Missouri pass rush has been dominant. Michael Sam has cranked out three sacks in three of the last four games, destroying Florida last week. The South Carolina pass protection has been spotty, and now, likely without Shaw and with Dylan Thompson under center, the Tigers should be able to force mistakes from an offense that has a big problem giving the ball away. The Gamecocks are awful in turnover margin, and they’ll need to be on the right side to have a realistic shot.

Who To Watch Out For: Is it possible to be more relaxed and calm in a really, really big game than Maty Mauk was against the Gators? He kept his cool under pressure, didn’t have the happy feet that most new starting quarterbacks show, and he delivered. While he had his share of misfires, hitting just half of his throws, he threw for 295 yards with a touchdown and just one pick with a rushing touchdown. While the Tigers would love to have the veteran presence of James Franklin back on the field, Mauk might be the more talented option.

- There isn’t a bigger unknown star at an SEC level than South Carolina running back Mike Davis. He ran for 77 yards against Vanderbilt, but he has topped the 100-yard mark against everyone else with at least on score in every game. Averaging 6.7 yards per pop, he has the speed to go along with decent power when needed. With the issues at quarterback, the offense will rely on him more than ever.

- Missouri was 7-0 in 2010 before losing to Nebraska. The last and only time it started out a year 8-0 was in 1960, and the team went on to a 9-0 record before losing to Kansas on the way to the Orange Bowl.

- This is just the fourth time the two schools have met. Mizzou won the first matchup in the 179 Hall of Fame Bowl, and roared back in a 38-31 stunner in the 2005 Independence. As SEC brothers, though, South Carolina dominated 31-10 last season.

What Will Happen: Missouri will keep the magic going with defensive pressure to overcome a shaky day from the offense. The balance will be there in the second half, but Mauk will turn the ball over at least twice and South Carolina will take advantage. However, the Gamecock offense will fizzle late as Mizzou pulls away in the fourth.

Prediction: Missouri 31 … South Carolina 21
Line: Missouri -3 o/u: 52.5
Must See Rating: (5 The Counselor – 1 Last Vegas) … 4
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