This one mostly starts with South Carolina’s offense, especially with the news Michael Scarnecchia will likely have to step in for Jake Bentley.
Yes, the Gamecocks football team is facing a Missouri team that’s been bad on defense, good on offense. And yes, slowing down Drew Lock and a high-paced attack that Will Muschamp said is more dedicated to the run will be important.
But USC’s offense has been hit and miss. It, in theory, has the pieces to do some damage, and after getting slowed by Kentucky and Georgia, is about to face a Tigers unit not close to the class of those groups.
At least that’s where is was before work leaked Bentley will probably not play because of his knee, and Scarnecchia will be forced into action, which suddenly puts this one is very much in doubt.
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With Scarnecchia, a more serviceable and smart quarterback than a flashy one, USC will have to be on-point in most senses on offense. That means the Gamecocks can’t make mistakes they have on both sides of the ball early in both losses.
USC’s defense will have to do what it’s done in the past two meetings, which is keep the Tigers’ electric attack from being all that electric.
All the factors matter because the Gamecocks in many ways need this one.
USC opened the season with a lot of tossups that appeared as if they could go South Carolina’s direction. Right now, it will be favored against an FCS team, Tennessee and likely against whoever they reschedule their game lost to the hurricane. Beyond that, Missouri might be the easiest next win to pencil in (behind at Clemson, at Florida, at Ole Miss, Texas A&M at home).
It wasn’t an easy one to pencil in before the quarterback news broke, and it will a far steeper climb now.
Prediction: Missouri 30, South Carolina 14