It is time for the game that always takes place in Columbia as the South Carolina Gamecocks (5-4) travel to visit the Missouri Tigers (4-5) in Columbia, MO. Here are the three keys to a Mizzou win.
By Steve Wright
1 – Stop the run
The issues with the Mizzou rushing defense have been well-publicized to the point that it was a shock Georgia went for just 168 yards on the ground in their 43-6 thumping of the Tigers last week. Worryingly, South Carolina seems to have found its running game in time for this clash. The talent there is obvious – Kevin Harris was a monster in 2020 and ZaQuandre White has all the tools – but it just wasn’t happening. The most that a rushing attack that was getting touches – it isn’t like the passing game was lighting it up – had gone for in a game was 153 yards, then both Harris and White almost hit that mark individually against Florida in the upset win. Harris went for 128, Harris for 111, and South Carolina looked way better for it. This is a worry.
2 – Ride Tyler Badie
Badie is a running back that can be a real difference-maker when he gets hot. He is a confident player, and big runs early will lead to continued big runs for the rest of the game. He was game scripted out against Georgia – he won’t be the first or last top-end running back to have that issue – but he went for over 200 yards in two of the three games before that. He will also be fresh after rushing just nine times into the Bulldogs’ wall, so the offensive staff needs to deploy Badie to be at his game-breaking best, especially if Connor Bazelak isn’t 100% healthy.
3 – Quarterback accuracy
Be it Bazelak back in the side or some combination of Tyler Macon and Brady Cook, the Mizzou quarterbacks simply cannot put the ball up for grabs against this South Carolina defense. The Gamecocks are tied for the lead in the SEC (Alabama) with 12 passed picked odd, a stat that is the eighth-best in the nation. Starting safety Jaylan Foster is the biggest ball hawk – he has five picks on the season – but this whole defense is geared towards making big plays with the ball in the air.