SEC Preview: Missouri at (13) South Carolina

Over the first four games of the season, the South Carolina Gamecocks have been lucky, not necessarily good.

When it comes down to it, they have somehow managed to get through the tough four game stretch at 3-1 and start 2-1 in SEC play. Their schedule won’t be getting any easier quite yet, as the Gamecocks welcome the Missouri Tigers into Williams-Brice Stadium this week.

Last week, the Gamecocks survived a dog-fight with Vanderbilt, in a game that was much closer than it should have been. The Carolina defense played the same kind of game they have played all season, allowing 34 points and 379-yards to a team that had only scored 44 total points all season. Vanderbilt had gained over 300 yards only once before the game, gaining 310 against a mediocre UMass team. The special teams were also atrocious, allowing two kick returns for touchdowns.

In one of the most thrilling victories of the college football season last year, the South Carolina Gamecocks came back in thrilling fashion to beat the Missouri Tigers 27-24 in two overtimes. Battling injuries and a stomach virus, Connor Shaw took the place of the struggling Dylan Thompson with the Gamecocks trailing 17-0.

But that was last season.

The Tigers, lead by quarterback Matty Mauk, also come in at 3-1 for the season, but have yet to play a conference game. Their three wins have come against sub-par teams, and their lone loss came against a struggling, middle of the Big-10 pack Indiana.

Head coach Steve Spurrier who is known for his outward personality when engaging the media, didn’t disappoint when talking about how good these Gamecocks are.

“We’ve all seen good football teams, we ain’t one,” Spurrier said.

For the Gamecocks to get their third win in a row against Missouri and strengthen their SEC East lead, the defense must improve. Mauk must be contained. It will be a long night for the Gamecocks defense if he gets a chance to create plays with his legs. Mauk is also a huge threat with his arm. In just four games, he has thrown for 978 yards and 14 touchdowns.

The Gamecocks will use the same recipe for success that they have all season. Rely heavily on Dylan Thompson to lead successful drives, and hope Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds can carry the ball enough to run the clock. If the Gamecocks have to start counting on their defense, it trouble will loom in Columbia.

Spurrier’s young team may need some magic on Saturday night to win again. Maybe the inexperienced defense will have its breakout game and show everyone why they were so hyped in the preseason. With a breakout performance, the Gamecocks could set themselves up to have a successful rest of the year, and maybe make their way back to Atlanta in December.

*Section Photo credit to Mykal McEldowney, Greenville News; Featured Photo (above) credit to USA Today Sports

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