University of Missouri

Missouri-South Carolina football preview


6 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Columbia


ESPN2; KMBZ (980 AM, 98.1 FM)

The series:

Missouri leads 2-1

The line:

Missouri by 3

What’s at stake

A stranglehold on the Southeast Conference’s East Division. Missouri currently owns a two-game advantage in the loss column and can practically wrap up a spot in the SEC championship game with a win. With a victory, the Tigers also would keep alive hopes for a BCS berth, including the possibility of playing for a national title.

Cheers if

Redshirt freshman quarterback Maty Mauk plays well again. He was very good in his first college start, but Mauk needs to continue improving his accuracy and decision-making like most young QBs. Florida missed several chances at interceptions last week. But if Mauk can put those lessons to use and continue delivering the ball to the Tigers’ playmakers, the chances to reach 8-0 will be high.

Jeers if

South Carolina gashes Missouri’s defense with the run. The Gamecocks’ best chance would seem to be a ball-control style that limits quarterback Dylan Thompson’s exposure to Missouri’s pass rush and the chance for mistakes. Of course, that requires production from the run game. If the Tigers continue to be rock solid against the run and contain Mike Davis, it could be a long afternoon for Steve Spurrier’s squad.

Three things about South Carolina

1 Quarterback Dylan Thompson is expected to start, but he may not have a very long leash. Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier said he thinks Connor Shaw, who suffered a knee sprain in the loss at Tennessee, will suit up, opening the possibility he plays if Thompson struggles.

2 Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, who many expect with the No. 1 overall pick if he declares for the 2014 NFL Draft, hasn’t been otherworldy dominant this season, but he does have two sacks, 5 1/2 tackles for a loss and six quarterback hurries. Clowney can still change a game with a single play.

3 Sophomore tailback Mike Davis has topped 100 yards rushing in six of the Gamecocks’ seven games. He has totaled 879 yards and 10 touchdowns on 132 carries this season and might be the focal point for the offense in an effort to ease Thompson into the starting role.

Key matchup Missouri’s offensive line vs. South Carolina’s defensive line:

Missouri ranks second in the Southeastern Conference in rushing and third in passing, but South Carolina boasts the conference’s third-best pass defense, allowing fewer than 200 yards per game. The Gamecocks have been vulnerable against the run, but only when opponents can get to the second level. That puts a premium on run blocking for the Tigers.

MISSOURI (7-0, 3-0 SEC)
Date Opponent Result/time
Aug. 31Murray StateW, 58-14
Sept. 7ToledoW, 38-23
Sept. 21at IndianaW, 45-28
Sept. 28Arkansas StateW, 41-19
Oct. 5at VanderbiltW, 51-28
Oct. 12at GeorgiaW, 41-26
Oct. 19FloridaW, 36-17
SaturdaySouth Carolina6 p.m.
Nov. 2Tennessee5 or 6 p.m.
Nov. 9at KentuckyTBA
Nov. 23at MississippiTBA
Nov. 30Texas ATBA
Date Opponent Result/time
Aug. 29North CarolinaW, 27-10
Sept. 7at GeorgiaL, 41-30
Sept. 14VanderbiltW, 35-25
Sept. 28at Central FloridaW, 28-25
Oct. 5KentuckyW, 35-28
Oct. 12at ArkansasW, 52-7
Oct. 19at TennesseeL, 23-21
Saturdayat Missouri6 p.m.
Nov. 2Mississippi State11:21 a.m.
Nov. 16FloridaTBA
Nov. 23Coastal CarolinaTBA
Nov. 30ClemsonTBA
P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
WR15Dorial Green-Beckham6-6225So.
WR2L’Damian Washington6-4205Sr.
LT68Justin Britt6-6315Sr.
LG61Max Copeland6-3300Sr.
C77Evan Boehm6-3315So.
RG60Connor McGovern6-4310So.
RT65Mitch Morse6-6305Jr.
TE81Eric Waters6-5245Sr.
WR85Marcus Lucas6-5220Sr.
QB7Maty Mauk6-0200Fr.
TB20Henry Josey5-10190Jr.
K99Andrew Baggett6-1215So.
P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
DE52Michael Sam6-2255Sr.
DT89Matt Hoch6-5295Jr.
NG96Lucas Vincent6-2305Jr.
DE47Kony Ealy6-5275Jr.
LB10Kentrell Brothers6-1240So.
LB48Andrew Wilson6-3240Sr.
LB8Donovan Bonner6-1245Sr.
CB31E.J. Gaines5-11195Sr.
FS17Matt White6-0195Sr.
SS9Braylon Webb6-0205Jr.
CB7Randy Ponder5-10195Sr.
P92Christian Brinser6-2200Jr.
P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
WR1Damiere Byrd5-9166Jr.
WR23Bruce Ellington5-9196Jr.
WR3Nick Jones5-7174Jr.
LT53Corey Robinson6-8341Jr.
LG50A.J. Cann6-4314Jr.
C51Cody Waldrop6-2319Fr.
RG67Ronald Patrick6-2315Sr.
RT71Brandon Shell6-6323So.
TE81Rory Anderson6-5242Jr.
QB17Dylan Thompson6-3218Jr.
RB28Mike Davis5-9215So.
K29Elliott Fry6-0150Fr.
P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
DE90Chaz Sutton6-5263Sr.
DT97J.T. Surratt6-2307Jr.
DT99Kelcy Quarles6-4298Jr.
DE7Jadeveon Clowney6-6274Jr.
LB11T.J. Holloman6-2228Fr.
LB21Marcquis Roberts6-1225So.
LB9Sharrod Golightly5-10195Jr.
CB27Victor Hampton5-10202Jr.
FS17Chaz Elder6-2199Fr.
SS12Brison Williams5-11218Jr.
CB15Jimmy Legree6-0187Sr.
P13Tyler Hull6-2206Jr.
Tod Palmer’s pick: Missouri 33-21

The Tigers are so balanced on offense and the Gamecocks struggle so much against the run, that Missouri seems likely to continue putting points on the board. Meanwhile, with the defense continuing to punish opposing quarterbacks and South Carolina expected to start its backup, the Tigers are the pick.

Tod Palmer,