Missouri Tigers (2-1 SU, 1-1-1 ATS) vs. No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks (3-0 SU, 2-1 ATS)
College Football Week 4
Date/Time: Saturday September 22nd, 2012. 3:30PM Eastern
Where: Williams Brice Stadium Columbia, S.C
by Jay, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MO +10.5/USC -10.5
Over/Under Total: 49
The Missouri Tigers will get their first taste of life on the road in the SEC this Saturday when they travel to the 'other' Columbia to battle the no. 7 ranked South Carolina Gamecocks. The Tigers are fresh off a hard fought 24-20 victory last week against Arizona State and will get their 2nd crack at a top 10 opponent already this year. Missouri had a chance to knock a top 10 opponent at home just two weeks ago against the Georgia Bulldogs. The Tigers battled the Bulldogs extremely close for 3 quarters before giving up some costly mistakes and letting the game slip away late. Still, this Missouri team has the talent to contend in the juggernaut of a conference that is the SEC and they will try to prove that once again this Saturday on the road at South Carolina.
The Gamecocks posted a dominating win last week against UAB 49-6. If you remember, South Carolina had that ugly win on the road against Vanderbilt to kick off the college football season and many thought the Gamecocks were a bit overrated. However, South Carolina's defense has proved that they are among the best groups in the nation allowing just 9.67 points on average through the first 3 games. South Carolina's defensive line is among the best in college football with defensive ends JaDaveon Clowney and Devin Taylor. The tremendous defensive front has racked up 4 sacks per ball game already this year and they get after opposing quarterbacks extremely quick.
Despite what happens on offense, South Carolina's defense will keep them in any ball game this year. Additionally, the offense has had some ups and downs. All-American running back Marcus Lattimore has carried the ball 48 times for 235 yards with 4 touchdowns. Lattimore's 2011 season was ended by an ACL injury and he has had a slow start for his standards so far this year. Still, Lattimore is a running back that you would like to get at least 20 touches per game because he can be a difference maker. In the passing game, Coach Steve Spurrier has a bit of a quarterback controversy on his hands. Spurrier has had quarterback issues throughout his tenure in Columbia but this year it may be a pleasing issue.
Starting QB Connor Shaw is a mobile quarterback that runs the ball often. As a result of running the ball a little too often, Shaw was banged up the opener against Vanderbilt and actually missed the East Carolina game. Shaw returned last week against UAB to complete 8 of 14 passing for 104 yards and a score. However, Shaw not only was a bit erratic with some of his throws which resulted in 1 interception but he was also knocked out of the game re-aggravating his shoulder injury.
Backup Dylan Thompson stepped in and was able to provide some excitement throwing the football. Despite decision making concerns, Thompson throws the deep ball extremely well. Thompson threw for more than 300 yards in his start against East Carolina and relieved Shaw last week with an additional 177 passing yards including a 94 yard touchdown pass to Damiere Byrd. Therefore even if Shaw is able to go, expect Thompson to get some snaps when the Gamecocks want to stretch the field vertical. Both quarterbacks have proven that they can move the ball but each has a different style in doing so. Shaw is the more methodical threat while Thompson gives the Gamecocks the homerun threat. Therefore, this quarterback controversy maybe one coach Spurrier can deal with.
For Missouri to pull off the upset there is a few things that they must do. QB James Franklin has to get the rid of the football quickly and not let that South Carolina pass rush affect his decision making. Franklin has been solid through the start of the season completing 61% passing for 400 yards with 3 scores and 1 pick. Therefore, I feel like Missouri can move the football with some quick and intermediate passes. Additionally, running back Kendial Lawrence needs to have a big game. The senior Mizzu tailback was not a factor against Georgia carrying the ball 8 times for just 41 yards. The Tigers will need help from the run game to establish some balance and keep the Gamecocks defense guessing. Missouri has the defense to keep this game close but they must get help from the offense and capitalize in scoring opportunities to pull off the win.
Jay's Pick to Cover the Point Spread:I like Missouri to take South Carolina down to the wire in this one. South Carolina played very poorly last week against UAB in the first half. If they get another slow start, the Tigers will be in this game for the win. Take Missouri +10.5
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