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South Carolina at Mizzou: Three Keys and Prediction

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Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports

Time to take on Mizzou in the other Columbia. A few quick thoughts. Notice I don't say much about defense; although I hope they can help (Clowney-influenced turnovers would help), I'm expecting a shootout.

Three Keys to Victory

3. Offensive Line Must Get Back to Form. Without Ronald Patrick last week, the offensive line played OK but not its dominant best. This week, hopefully with Patrick back in the fold, Carolina will be back to opening huge holes for Mike Davis to bowl up and down the field.

2. Dylan Thompson Must Play Well. Dylan gets his second major test of the season this weekend when he starts against Mizzou. He did OK in his first test against UCF, when he played well enough in the second half to do his part to help Carolina win on the road against what's turned out to be a good UCF team. With a week to prepare with Dylan as the first-eam QB, I'm expecting Spurrier to have a good game plan in place to allow Dylan to do what he does best, test the opponent down the field. What we're looking for in addition to moving the ball is for Dylan not to put the ball in danger; ending up more than -2 in TOs will likely cost us this game.

1. Special Teams Must Get Better. Let's get down to brass tacks: Special teams cost us against Tennessee. We'll need more than better special teams play to beat Mizzou, which is a better team than Tennessee. However, special teams has consistently cost us this year, and while it' unlikely to get significantly better this year, it is an area where variation from week to week isn't unlikely. If we get better performance on kickoff returns and punts, it will make a big difference this weekend.

Prediction

I'd love to pick the Gamecocks to win, and I do believe the offense will play better. However, I'm not very confident the defense will, nor am I confident special teams will. Mizzou wins 34-31. I hope to eat crow Sunday morning!