No. 7 South Carolina looks to maintain a perfect record as they host SEC rival Missouri this coming Saturday. The Gamecocks are 3-0 on the year and 1-0 in the SEC. South Carolina's defense has looked good in the early going. They have not allowed more than 13 points in their three games this year. Missouri enters this one with a 2-1, with its one loss coming in a 41-20 defeat to conference rival Georgia.
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, South Carolina When: Saturday, September 22nd at 3:30 p.m. ET Watch: CBS Listen: Missouri radio network, South Carolina radio network Betting Line: South Carolina -10 (according to Bet Online on Sept. 18)
Key Storyline: South Carolina's starting QB situation Connor Shaw has a bruised throwing shoulder. It kept him out of the lineup last week, and sophomore Dylan Thompson filled in by passing for 333 yards and three touchdowns.However, the injury and Thompson's strong performance won't keep Shaw out of the lineup this week, as the Associated Press reported that Steve Spurrier announced Shaw would be the starting QB on Saturday. Who Might Not Play for Missouri *Injury information according to the USA Today on Sept. 18. Click the link for updated information. Questionable: LB Zaviar Gooden (hamstring)Out: OL Elvis Fisher (knee), WR Wesley Leftwich (foot), OL Travis Ruth (tricep), OL Taylor Chappell (knee), HB Henry Josey (knee) Who Might Not Play for South Carolina *Injury information according to the USA Today on Sept. 18. Click the link for updated information. Questionable: RB Brandon Wilds (ankle)Out: S D.J. Swearinger (suspension), CB Akeem Auguste (groin), RB Shon Carson (wrist) What They're SayingSouth Carolina safety D.J. Swearinger has been suspended for an illegal hit. This is the result of football continually moving towards increased player safety, and these kinds of suspensions are going to grow in frequencyThe Atlanta Journal Constitution's Michael Cunningham has more on the suspension.
This time, though, the league didn’t punish a relatively anonymous player from one of the league’s second-tier teams. D.J. Swearinger, a senior safety for No. 7 South Carolina, will sit out his team’s game vs. Missouri Saturday after the SEC determined his hit on UAB’s Patrick Hearn violated rule Rule 9-1-4. That rule states: “No player shall target and initiate contact to the head or neck area of a defenseless opponent with the helmet, forearm, elbow or shoulder.” No doubt the ruling will inspire some hand-wringing from Internet tough guys who believe these kind of rulings soften an inherently violent game. But take a look at the video above and it’s clear the suspension is justified because Swearinger launched into Hearn with a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit.
Missouri Player to Watch: Kendial Lawrence, RBKendial Lawrence, the explosive senior running back leads the Tigers in carries, yards and rushing touchdowns with 34 carries for 224 yards and four touchdowns.He is not the kind of back that is going to get 20-plus carries in a game, but he did show, with his eight carries for 41 yards against Georgia, that he can succeed against a tough defense. South Carolina Player to Watch: Connor ShawAs we mentioned above, Shaw is set to return from a shoulder injury. While Spurrier seems to have full confidence in the junior QB, he likely will do so with a shorter leash. Shaw is 15-of-25 passing this year with one touchdown and two interceptions. Backup Thompson is 26-of-50 with five touchdowns and no interceptions. Key Matchup: Missouri's Rush Defense vs. South Carolina's Rush Offense While Shaw's passing stats are not nearly as pretty as his backup's, he does add a dimension to the Gamecock's rushing attack. He has 19 carries for 86 yards this season—you combine him with stud running back Marcus Lattimore, and you have a dynamic backfield. If Missouri is going to have any chance in this one, it cannot let South Carolina pick up easy yards on the ground. Prediction: South Carolina 27, Missouri 20South Carolina's defense will be too much for the Tigers to overcome. I do not expect this game to be as close as that final score indicates, but Missouri will tack on a late TD to bring it within seven. Read more South Carolina Football news on BleacherReport.com