South Carolina football enters new era vs. Missouri in Week 12

South Carolina football will meet the Missouri Tigers at home in Columbia on Saturday. We preview the 11th meeting between the teams.

The South Carolina Gamecocks are slated to meet Missouri on Saturday night in Columbia. South Carolina is reeling from not only three losses in a row and a 2-6 record, but also the termination of head coach Will Muschamp.

Mike Bobo has been named the interim while the search for the new coach begins, and one of the decisions he has already made is promoting former Gamecocks gunslinger Connor Shaw to quarterbacks coach.

Missouri has had its own share of troubles this season, mainly with postponed games due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, as well as a depleted team for the same reason. Both teams will go into the game with the determination to get their third win of the season, but the question is which team will have the stronger roster to get the job done.

The Tigers enter this one with a 2-3 record, playing for the first time since Halloween when they were defeated by the Florida Gators, 41-17. They have the offensive advantage over the Gamecocks, even though they have played three fewer games. Missouri averages 384 total yards, with 257 passing yards and 127 rushing yards per game. In contrast, South Carolina, which has played eight games, averages 370 total yards per contest.

Missouri has scored an average of 22.6 points per game compared to South Carolina’s 27.3 points. However, the Gamecocks have allowed an average of 36.7 points per game, while Missouri has allowed an average of 33 points.

Statistically, Missouri is the better team. Will this transfer to the field?

Missouri

As mentioned above, one of Missouri’s largest problems coming into this game is the fact it has been three weeks since they’ve taken to the field, and they are on the road in their first week back. Add that to the fact that the Tigers roster is severely depleted because of COVID-19 doesn’t help its situation.

Every week several contests have been postponed because of the pandemic and there were rumors this game would be one of them this week, but as of Friday afternoon, the game is still scheduled to take place.

The Tigers have two wins under their belts this season, the first in a shootout victory over the LSU Tigers and then the next week they defeated Kentucky 20-10. Connor Bazelak has 96 completions for 1,101 yards, four passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown and an interception so far this season.

Jalen Knox has led the Tigers in passing yards this season with 22 receptions for 236 yards and several players have put a passing touchdown on the books for a total of five for the team. On the rushing side of the offensive line, Larry Rountree III leads the team with 432 rushing yards and four of the team’s seven total touchdowns.

On the other side of the ball, Nick Bolton leads his team with 53 total tackles along with a sack, three pass deflections, and a fumble recovery. Joshuah Bledsoe leads the Tigers with three sacks this season in addition to a forced fumble, fumble recovery, and four pass deflections. So far the Missouri defense has only one interception this season, and that came at the hands of Jarvis Ware during the Florida game in which he took the ball for a 59-yard touchdown score.

South Carolina

The Gamecocks have had a rough season, to put it nicely. The team lost its first two games against Tennessee and Florida, won the next two against Vanderbilt and an upset against Auburn, and they haven’t won since. South Carolina enters this game with a three game losing streak, huge coaching staff changes, core players opting out, and not much of a defensive line.

However, when a team suffers the adversity the Gamecocks have gone through in the last week alone, it’s a flip of the coin if the team will come out deflated by an already tough season, or the team will come out with motivation and determination to try and salvage the rest of the season. This team is capable of turning the adversity into a victory, it depends on the players’ mindsets before they take the field.

South Carolina’s starting quarterback, Collin Hill, a graduate transfer from Colorado State has started every game this season and has stayed in nearly the entire game each game. He has had a mediocre year with the Gamecocks posting a 59 percent completion rate and six interceptions, Hill has posted 121 completions for 1,372 yards and six touchdowns and it is unclear if he will remain in the quarterback position with Shaw taking over as the quarterback coach.

Kevin Harris has been one Hill’s go-to players and Harris is responsible for over half of the team’s total touchdowns for the year. The Gamecocks have scored 24 touchdowns total and Harris has put 13 rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown on the books. Shi Smith has also been one of Hill’s consistent targets, and in turn the largest target for the opposing teams. He has 53 receptions for 596 yards and four receiving touchdowns.

The Gamecocks’ defensive line has been lackluster, at best, this season. In the last three games alone they allowed 159 points and 1,750 yards. The defense took even further hits this week following Muschamp’s firing. Jaycee Horn, Israel Mukuamu, and R.J. Roderick have all thee opted out for personal reasons or to prepare for the 2021 NFL Draft.

Furthermore, Aaron Sterling and Brad Johnson will miss the remaining of the season due to injuries, and Makius Scott who hasn’t taken to the field this year is also opting out and leaving the team.

Ernest Jones leads the Gamecocks with 78 total tackles and has also put a sack and a forced fumble in the record books. Kinglsey Enagbare leads his squad with five sacks and also has forced three fumbles this season. Horn and Mukuamu both have two interceptions this season, while Jaylin Dickerson and Cam Smith also have recorded an interception this season.

Prediction

Hopefully both teams will come onto the field with the determination and motivation to claim this year’s Mayor’s Cup, the trophy given to the winner of this game, since both teams’ home fields are in towns named Columbia. The teams are tied 5-5 in the all-time series, and the Gamecocks are 3-1 when playing the Tigers at home.

Whichever teams takes home they Mayor’s Cup will also take the lead in the all-time series.

The Tigers are the stronger of the two teams on both sides of the ball, however they haven’t had as much time to improve on weaknesses in their game. The Gamecocks, on the other hand, have had plenty of time to make improvements in the execution of their game plans, but for whatever reason, didn’t improve and instead declined. This week could break the Gamecocks’ losing streak and bring some much needed confidence and motivation to a battered team.

This game will probably come down who has the better defense as both offensive lines will attempt to put up several touchdowns. The defensive coordinators should have studied tapes of their opponents to come up with a viable game plan to stop the other team from getting into the end zone. This will either be a lopsided game or it will come down to the wire, I think it will come down to the wire.

Final Score: Missouri 24, South Carolina 27