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Opponent Q&A: Missouri

Getting some info from the Other Columbia.

NCAA Football: Missouri at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to this week’s edition of our Opponent Q&A series, where we sat down with our friends at Rock M Nation to get a little insight into what has quickly become arguably the most important game on South Carolina’s 2021 schedule. Many thanks to Sammy Stava for his responses!

South Carolina and Missouri have put together a competitive series against each other, and are also slugging it out for positioning in the SEC East most years. How do Tigers fans feel about the Gamecocks? Is this a brewing rivalry?

Since Mizzou joined the SEC, South Carolina leads this series 5-4 but the Tigers are looking for their third win in a row. These two programs are in a similar spot right now, which makes for some fun, close games. I wouldn’t say Tiger fans hate the Gamecocks, but it’s nice to have a game with the rivalry name “Mayor’s Cup.”

Both teams have seen upheaval at the quarterback position due to injury, and current Mizzou starter Connor Bazelak is still working his way back. Can we expect to see another rotation of Tyler Macon and Brady Cook like in last week’s game against Georgia? What’s likely to be the plan here?

If Connor Bazelak is healthy, he’ll get the start at QB on Saturday. He gives Missouri the best chance to win. Tyler Macon and Brady Cook showed some promise in the blowout loss to Georgia, but simply put they’re just inexperienced. Mizzou needs the experience. If Bazelak can’t go, you’ll get to see a combination of Macon and Cook on Saturday.

This could be a battle of stoppable force vs. movable object, as South Carolina’s offense has been moribund and Missouri’s defense has shown little interest in keeping opponents off the scoreboard. What worries you the most going into this game?

I think Kevin Harris has plenty of momentum and confidence after his big game against Florida. Mizzou’s run defense had an improvement against Georgia, but we’ll see if it carries over to Saturday. It could be another long day for Missouri’s defense if it’s the Kevin Harris from last season.

Turning that around, what are some areas you feel Mizzou can exploit against the Gamecocks? Any big names SC fans should know?

I think Missouri can have a big day on the ground because that’s what they’ve been doing consistently all season. Tyler Badie is arguably the best RB in the SEC, but going up against Kingsley Enagbare will be quite the challenge. This also figures to be such a close game, which will make special teams vital, and Missouri boasts one of the best kickers in the country with Harrison Mevis. If Badie and Mevis do their thing, Mizzou can win this one. The Gamecocks have also had their troubles on the road this season, so the Tigers could be able to take advantage of that.

Finally, care to make a prediction?

Oh, this should be a close game. Both teams need a win for their bowl hopes. I think this one will come down to a matter of who wants it more. I’ll play it safe and go with the home team. Mizzou wins a back and forth game 35-31.