Last year Gameday was on campus in Columbia, SC, for what must have a been dreary weekend for college football. After the best defensive performance to that point in the season through 3 quarters, the Gamecocks gave up 2 TDs in the last 7 minutes and lost 21-20, the first of 3 4th Quarter collapses in 2014. The Mayor's Cup was sent to Columbia, MO for the first time.
Just like last year, Missouri enters the game after taking their first loss of the season the week before. Whereas South Carolina has faced North Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, and UCF in the first 4 games, Missouri's slate has featured SE Missouri St., Arkansas St., Connecticut, and Kentucky. You could argue that there's not much difference between SC's 2-2 and Mizzou's 3-1, and the fact is that both of these teams look decidedly mediocre in 2015.
On offense both of these teams are struggling. If you've been watching the Gamecocks this season you may not believe this, but SC is actually performing better than Missouri through 4 games. South Carolina is currently 10th in the SEC in Total Offense, while Missouri is 13th. Against Kentucky, Missouri rolled up 338 yards of offense, compared with South Carolina's 417. Missouri's best RB, Russell Hansbrough, is likely out of this game with an injury, and starting QB Maty Mauk is out due to suspension. Mauk's suspension is interesting in that Mauk is in actuality a terrible QB. Through the first 4 games he's only completing 51.8% of his passes getting 5.95 yards per attempt. Blue chip true freshman Drew Lock will be replacing Mauk as the starter, and the truth is that Missouri is probably better off for it. Still, based on performance so far this year I've got to give a slight edge to South Carolina on offense.
On defense Missouri has the definite edge. The Missouri defensive coaching staff continually takes 2- and 3-star recruits and turns them into all-Americans and high draft picks. Missouri is currently leading the SEC in Total Defense. South Carolina is 13th. Enough said.
Missouri opened as 4 point favorites in this game, but the spread shrank to 3 after Mauk's suspension was announced. The smart money would be on the 2-time defending SEC East champions. Both of these teams have been dreadful on offense in 2015, but I think Lorenzo Nunez's athleticism makes the difference in this one. Prediction: USC 17 - Mizzou 14