Josh Kendall

Gamecocks magic number versus Bulldogs is 18

Game preview: South Carolina travels to face Mississippi State

The State's Josh Kendall and David Cloninger preview and predict the Gamecocks' game against Mississippi State, set for 7 p.m. Saturday in Starkville, Miss.
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The State's Josh Kendall and David Cloninger preview and predict the Gamecocks' game against Mississippi State, set for 7 p.m. Saturday in Starkville, Miss.

Eighteen points.

That’s South Carolina’s magic number against Mississippi State on Saturday. If the Gamecocks offense can muster that many points one way or another, history says South Carolina will be 2-0 by Saturday night.

The history referenced is the history between Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp and Mississippi State head coach Dan Mullen. Saturday will be the first time the two have met as head coaches, but Muschamp’s defense and Mullen’s offense have faced off three times.

Muschamp’s team won twice. Mullen’s team won once. Each time, Mullen’s offense scored 17 points. The last time the pair met was last season when the Bulldogs beat Auburn (where Muschamp was the defensive coordinator) 17-9. Before that, their only two meetings came during Muschamp’s first stint as Auburn’s defensive coordinator, when Mullen was the offensive coordinator at Florida. The Tigers won 27-17 in 2007 and 20-17 in 2006.

Muschamp was already thinking about Mullen’s offense in his postgame interview session for the Vanderbilt game last week.

“We gave up some bubbles (screens to the Commodores), and we’ll see that all night next week with Dan,” Muschamp said.

The Bulldogs are replacing all-everything quarterback Dak Prescott this year and managed just 20 points last week against South Alabama, but Muschamp expects a better showing from Mullen this week.

“They've been very successful over the years in what he's done offensively and obviously, tailoring their system to what their quarterback can do,” Muschamp said. “Obviously, you lose a quarterback like Dak Prescott, it does change some things. They're not going to give that quarterback as much as they gave Dak. They put a lot on Dak last year having played them.”

Whoever the quarterback, it feels like Mississippi State will get 17 this week. So, can South Carolina get 18 or more? If the Gamecocks eliminate the foolish mistakes of the last week’s first half, yes.

South Carolina 31, Mississippi State 17

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