The Matchup: Missouri at #7 South Carolina

When: Saturday, September 22nd

Where: Columbia, South Carolina

Game Time: 3:30 PM ET

TV: CBS

What you need to know about Missouri: Missouri is 2-1 and starting quarterback James Franklin was out last week against Arizona State. Backup Corbin Berkstresser stepped in and did a nice job.

Contrary to popular belief, Missouri plays defense, and they are playing it pretty well in the early part of the season. They are currently fourth in the SEC in total defense and are slightly under the radar with a top five pass and rush defense. We expect Mizzou to go out on offense and put up big numbers, but the defense is only allowing the opponents 291 yards per game and won the game last week for the Tigers.

James Franklin is again questionable with inflammation in his right shoulder. He’ll be a game-time decision. But Missouri may have enough offense without him to help cope with the loss. Berkstresser now has some experience to draw on, and he can orchestrate the spread effectively if called upon.

Brad Madison is a stud at defensive end for the Tigers so far. He’s tied for second in the SEC with three sacks and fourth with four tackles for loss. He will try and apply pressure to whoever the quarterback will be for Carolina.

Mizzou can hit opponents on special teams, too. Returner Marcus Murphy is leading the SEC in punt return yardage (211) with two touchdowns.

What you need to know about South Carolina: Much like Missouri, South Carolina is probably looking at backup quarterback Dylan Thompson starting in place of the injured Connor Shaw. Shaw has a small fracture on his scapula, and he evidently reinjured it against UAB.

Dylan Thompson, however, has thrown for over 500 yards and five touchdowns in two games, and he is a more traditional quarterback like Steve Spurrier is used to. Carolina also has to get Marcus Lattimore going. He had a quick start against Vanderbilt with 110 yards rushing and two touchdowns, and has only taken 25 more carries in the last two games. He should be fresh for the Tigers, and they are going to need him.

The Gamecocks’ secondary took a hit with DJ Swearinger getting suspended for a shot to the head last week. He is the veteran in an already shaky secondary. I look for Mizzou to spread this group out and attack it. Carolina’s run defense has been fantastic so far, only allowing 53 rushing yards per game. This group is fast and athletic but hasn’t faced an offense quite like Missouri’s so far.

What you need to watch: The matchup I’m looking forward to is Missouri’s aggressive defense against the offensive line of South Carolina. Vanderbilt somewhat exposed this group in the first game, and I’m interested to see the improvement at the position. The Gamecocks will look to control the line of scrimmage and get Marcus Lattimore involved early to help relieve the pressure of what will likely be Thompson’s first start in the SEC. The Tigers are not afraid to load boxes and make teams beat them through the air because of how good their corners are. EJ Gaines and Kip Edwards are seasoned veterans, and they can be left on an island with receivers.

I look for the Gamecocks to roll with Lattimore and put the ball in his hands in this tough SEC game.

It always seems like South Carolina loses a game they should win every year. Could this be it?