Location: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC
Time: 7:30 p.m. on SEC Network Alternate
All-Time Series: Tied 5-5
Spread: Missouri -6.5
The 2-3 Missouri Tigers travel to Columbia, SC this weekend for a battle with the 2-5 South Carolina Gamecocks.
Forward pic.twitter.com/h2PXTrqKOh— Gamecock Football (@GamecockFB) November 18, 2020
Both teams will be shells of themselves compared week one, as Missouri is dealing with multiple players in quarantine and South Carolina recently had a slew of players opt out. It will also be the first game for Mike Bobo as the interim head coach of the Gamecocks following the dismissal of Will Muschamp.
All things considered, this game is going to look very strange compared to what many expected in the preseason and it will be very interesting to see how it plays out.
As a team, Missouri is reportedly down to just 54 available players for Saturday nights game. This is concerning because the minimum number of scholarship players a team can have for a game to be played in the SEC is 53.
It is still possible for the game to be played if the number of players dips below the threshold, but it is far more likely for the game to be postponed if it indeed happens.
When Missouri Has The Ball
Quarterback Connor Bazelak is expected to be able to play this weekend, which is huge for the Tigers offense.
Bazelak has completed nearly 70% of his passes this season for over 1,100 passing yards and four touchdowns in the teams five games. Being just a redshirt freshman, Mizzou thinks they’ve found their quarterback for the future.
Connor Bazelak is just getting his feet wet #NewZou pic.twitter.com/JoCbwVag9P— MizzouMade (@MizzouATH2) October 4, 2020
With the South Carolina secondary being much depleted after a rash of opt-outs, Bazelak is in line for another productive outing this Saturday.
Running back Larry Rountree III is also off to a good start to the season and will give the Carolina defense all it can handle. The senior running back has rushed for 432 yards and four touchdowns so far this year for an average of 4.3 yards per carry.
In his two starts against South Carolina, he is averaging 89 yards per game and a touchdown against the Gamecock defense. If the Missouri offensive line can hold steady, he should be in line for a similar performance this year as well.
📹 The Highlights— Mizzou Football (@MizzouFootball) October 25, 2020
Carries for Larry Rountree III – 37
Plays for Kentucky – 36
Watch ⤵️#MIZ x #NewZou 🐯🏈 pic.twitter.com/YmvXls3o76
As a whole, the Missouri offense is sitting in the middle of the pack in the SEC. Holding the 8th most yards per game and the 6th most pass yards per game, the offense isn’t outstanding, but it is enough to give a defense like Carolina’s some trouble.
Especially with all of the recent departures from key players. Jaycee Horn, Israel Mukuamu, RJ Roderick, Aaron Sterling, Brad Johnson and others are all going to miss the rest of the season. It provides a lot of young talent with early opportunities to make a name for themselves, but will also come with some growing pains.
Hopefully defensive coordinator Travaris Robinson will keep the scheme simple for the young guys, allowing them to go out and play fast and aggressive without having to think too much.
MIZ OL vs SC DL: Edge South Carolina
MIZ RB+TE vs SC LB: Edge Missouri
MIZ WR vs SC DB: Edge Missouri
When South Carolina Has The Ball
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo has taken the reigns as the interim head coach, but he will continue to call plays for the offense. Collin Hill should also remain the starting quarterback after an improved performance against Ole Miss.
The Mississippi defense was known to be one of the worst in the nation, so Collin Hill’s better performance shouldn’t come as a surprise or change anyone’s mind about him. I still believe that the Carolina offense would get a spark from a change to one of the younger quarterbacks, which is needed more now than ever.
Kevin Harris should be in line for another huge day, and he is getting close to becoming a household name around the SEC. I expect the offense to try and rely on the running game again, as that has been the clear strong point all season.
When the Gamecocks do pass though, Shi Smith will obviously be the go to guy once more. I expect to see him get his fair share of targets and receptions, and will likely have another outing with around 80-100 receiving yards or so.
I am intrigued to see how differently Bobo will call plays now that he is the man in charge of the entire team.
The Missouri defense is also sitting around the middle of the pack in the conference, allowing the 7th most yards per game in the SEC. Their run defense has been better than their pass defense statistically, which might force Carolina to be more balanced with their attack, but I expect Bobo to stick with the run if its working early.
Also, how short will Collin Hill’s leash be after the coaching change?
Hill has always been the favorite of Mike Bobo, but it will be interesting to see if anything changes now that a coaching change has happened.
SC OL vs MIZ DL: Edge South Carolina
SC RB+TE vs MIZ LB: Edge South Carolina
SC WR vs MIZ DB: Push
SC QB vs MIZ QB: Edge Missouri
SC Coaching vs MIZ Coaching: Edge Missouri
This game has a million different possible outcomes due to all of the unknowns and missing pieces on both sides. New faces will be playing for both teams on essentially every level of the field. In game adjustments and play calling will play a huge role in a game like this one.
I am expecting to see a closely fought game, but don’t be surprised if there are a few turnovers and sloppy play by both teams. Missouri hasn’t played a game since Halloween, so even the returning starters may look a little rusty.
At the end of the day, I hope to see this game stay close and competitive, but I am going to give the home team a slight edge here.
Prediction: South Carolina 34, Missouri 31