Josh Kendall

Kendall’s South Carolina-Missouri prediction: Gamecocks’ offense will be difference

Even with the recent struggles for South Carolina football, it’s hard to believe the last time the Gamecocks were 2-0 in a season was 2012. South Carolina fans will remember well the team finished 11-2 that season.

This Gamecock team probably is not going to go 11-2, but it can be 2-0 with a victory over Missouri on Saturday night. For the second time this season, South Carolina is the underdog. For the first time this season, I don’t agree with the odds makers.

Entering the season, the Gamecocks were expected by most people, including me, to be the better of the two teams. South Carolina was picked to finish fourth in the SEC East by media members at SEC Media Days, while the Tigers were picked to finish seventh, and nothing that happened in the first week of the season should change that perception.

In fact, the Gamecocks upset N.C. State in the first game of the year, which should improve opinions of what they might do this season. Missouri won big, putting up 72 points and 815 yards, but that was against an FCS opponent and an FCS opponent that got more than its share of points as well (43).

So the fact that Missouri is a 2.5-point favorite is a surprise. Home teams in college football generally get a three-point bump simply based on geography, so a 2.5-point betting margin is an indication that the sports books and gambling public believe South Carolina is a better team than Missouri but not enough better to overcome playing on the road.

The Tigers offense may be the best in the SEC East, but here’s the thing: the Tigers defense stinks. These are the yardage totals surrendered by Missouri in SEC games last season – 503, 609, 411, 428, 582, 523, 634, 409. Every one of the Tigers conference opponents surpassed their season average in offense in those games. LSU had 200 yards more than its average. Florida’s disparity was almost as bad.

South Carolina’s offense gained 428 yards against Missouri last year, and the Gamecocks offense looked a lot better in Week 1 of this season than it was a year ago. That will be the difference Saturday.

Prediction: South Carolina 48, Missouri 30