SEC Preview: No. 21 South Carolina & No. 5 Missouri Face-Off in a Crucial SEC East Battle
Who would have thought Missouri would be 7-0 and ranked 5th in the country by the time the first BCS ranking came out? Well, that's exactly where the Tigers are with 21st-ranked South Carolina coming to town on Saturday night. But that perfect start will be in jeopardy again as Missouri plays a ranked team for the third straight week.
Mizzou has really shocked a lot of people this year with wins over Georgia and Florida. The Tigers got off to a 6-0 start under the direction of quarterback James Franklin, who completed 132 of 195 passes for 1577 yards and 14 touchdowns before being injured at Georgia. The senior will be out at least six weeks with after separating his shoulder.
Despite losing Franklin, Mizzou has found a way to win behind redshirt freshman Maty Mauk. In his first career start last Saturday, Mauk lead the Tigers to a 36-17 win over the Florida Gators while completing 18 of 36 passes for 295 yards and a touchdown. The offense continues to put up numbers, ranking 2nd in the SEC in points per game and yards per game and 3rd in the conference in rushing.
This will be another tough test defensively when the Gamecocks come to town led by potential first-overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft, Jadeveon Clowney. The South Carolina defense is ranked 3rd in the SEC in yards per game, giving up 342.6 yards a game.
South Carolina will be looking to bounce back after losing to Tennessee Saturday on a last second field goal, but there is still uncertainty around the status of starting quarterback Connor Shaw, who suffered a knee injury against the Vols. If Shaw can't play Saturdayx the Gamecocks will rely on backup Dylan Thompson. The good news for South Carolina is Thompson has experience as a starter. In 15 career games, the junior has thrown for 1465 yards and 12 touchdowns with only four interceptions.
The most interesting match-up in this game will be South Carolina's running game vesus Missouri's rush defense. Running back Mike Davis is leading the SEC in rushing yards with 879 yards, rushing yards per game with 125.6, and is tied for first in touchdowns with 10. Davis has only had one game this year where he's rushed for less than 100 yards. The Tigers defense is in the middle of the pack in the SEC in rush defense, allowing nearly 150 yards per game. If Missouri wants to remain undefeated, it's going to need to stop Davis.
With both teams having the ability to score points, watch for the defenses to make big plays late in the game.
This game will be on ESPN2 at 6PM CT.