Josh Kendall

What’s the Big Deal? For Gamecocks, Tigers, it’s the scoreboard

If South Carolina beats Missouri on Saturday, it will make the Gamecocks 2-0 for the first time since 2012 and put them alone in first place in the SEC East (this is the first conference game for any Eastern Division team), and those things might be the big deal about this game for coach Will Muschamp and his players.

But the big deal for most fans is about the big numbers that might be on the scoreboard. From a pure entertainment factor, Week 2 of the 2017 season could be the best of the season for a Gamecocks fan.

The most combined points scored in a South Carolina game is 104. That came in 1995 when the Gamecocks beat Mississippi State 65-39, and that record will be in jeopardy Saturday evening at Faurot Field.

Missouri gained 815 yards and scored 72 points while giving up 43 points against Missouri State last week. The Gamecocks scored 35 points against a stout N.C. State defense and surrendered 504 yards to the Wolfpack last week. So this week has the makings of a shootout, which doesn’t sound so bad to South Carolina’s offensive players.

“I’m sure in the skill positions, Deebo and Bryan and myself and the running backs, that’s in the back our minds a little bit,” tight end Hayden Hurst said. “If coach wants to dial it up and air it out, we’re going to go do it. If he wants to go run it down their throat and hold onto possession and keep them off the field, we are going to do that, too. Whatever it takes to win.”

Gamecocks quarterback Jake Bentley doesn’t want to put too much pressure on himself and his teammates to put up big numbers.

“They have a great offense, but the name of the game is to score more points than them. If that’s 14-10 or 70-60, our goal is to score more points than them,” Bentley said. “We are going to come in there with the same mindset we do every game, which is to score on every drive, and if we do that, we will be fine.”

Muschamp is going to try to avoid a shootout by limiting the amount of time the Missouri offense spends on the field with a combination of good third down defense and ball control by his own offense.

“You eliminate tempo by getting off the field on third down,” Muschamp said. “They’ll go for it, depending on the field position, in fourth down situations, then you have to get off the field on fourth down and create some turnovers. They’ll be the fastest team we play this year. They’re, on average, high 20s (on the play clock) when the ball is snapped. You’re looking at a window of 12 to 17 seconds coming off the 40-second clock until the next snap is happening.”

That doesn’t sound like a lot of fun for defensive coaches. But it sounds like a lot of fun for fans.