Two teams with hopes of exceeding expectations and contending for the SEC East title square off in a key early-season matchup when South Carolina visits Missouri on Saturday. The Gamecocks are looking for their second straight win in the Mayor’s Cup series and their first 2-0 start since 2012.
South Carolina enters SEC play with high hopes after a 35-28 neutral-site win over North Carolina State last week. Drew Lock and Missouri’s high-powered offense had a record-breaking performance in last week’s 72-43 win over Missouri State, and South Carolina coach Will Muschamp feels keeping that unit off the field is the key for the Gamecocks. “I do feel like defensively we’ve had some experienced guys that have been on the road and understand the importance of an SEC East game,” Muschamp told reporters. “It’s the first step to Atlanta, and we need to do a good job of preparing right for the game.” The Gamecocks’ defense forced three turnovers in a 31-21 win over visiting Missouri last season and has won three of five meetings since the Tigers joined the SEC.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2. LINE: Missouri -2.5.
ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA (1-0, 0-0 SEC): The Gamecocks opened the season with a bang when Deebo Samuel took the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown, and Samuel added two touchdown catches. Quarterback Jake Bentley and fellow sophomore Rico Dowdle pair with Samuel to form a dangerous trio on offense. The defense was torched through the air in the first half against N.C. State but settled in after halftime and held the Wolfpack to seven points.
ABOUT MISSOURI (1-0, 0-0): The Tigers rewrote the school record book last week, rolling up 815 total yards as Lock went 21-for-34 for 521 yards and seven touchdowns and Damarea Crockett rushed for 202 yards on 18 carries. The fact Lock was still in the game and throwing late in the contest is a concern for the Tigers, as the defense had a difficult time stopping the Bears. Missouri gave up 492 total yards, including 353 through the air, and will have to be much better to win this week.
1. South Carolina won despite just 246 total yards against N.C. State, including 31 rushing yards on 21 attempts.
2. Lock and Crockett are the first teammates to surpass 500 passing yards and 200 rushing yards in the same game since Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Joe Mixon last October against Texas Tech.
3. South Carolina has made 160 consecutive PATs dating to 2013, the sixth-longest active streak in the nation.
PREDICTION: Missouri 41, South Carolina 34