WHEN: Saturday, October 26, 6:00pm CT
WHERE: The ZOU (67,124) Columbia, Mo.
TV: ESPN2 (national) Joe Tessitore – play-by-play, Matt Millan – color, Maria Taylor – sideline
SERIES: Missouri leads 2-1
COACHES: Steve Spurrier, South Carolina 71-39 (9th year) overall 213-79-2 (24th year); Gary Pinkel, Missouri 97-61 (13th year) overall 170-98-3 (23rd year)
The University of Missouri in Columbia is preparing for its 102nd annual Homecoming game this Saturday at The ZOU against SEC East foe South Carolina. The Gamecocks are ranked No. 21 in the most current BCS standings, while Mizzou comes in at No. 5.
The Tigers are coming off back-to-back victories over ranked opponents for the first time since 1976. The team will now face the third consecutive ranked team in as many weeks. South Carolina is coming off the heals of tough loss to Tennessee after a last second field goal won it for the Volunteers.
Missouri puts itself in great position going into November with a win on Saturday. Head football Coach Gary Pinkel is also moving up the list of all time wins with the school. He now trails the great Don Faurot by only four games.
Offensively the Tigers are having their way right now, most recently with the first career start of freshman quarterback Maty Mauk. Mauk threw for 295 yards last week and had a balanced running attack that allowed the Tiger offense to put more than 500 yards of total offense on Florida. Position players are all excelling, being led by senior wide receiver and captain L’Damian Washington. Washington leads the highly talented group of tall receivers with 539 yards receiving through seven games.
The running game has been amazing as well, as the system of three running backs is still allowing all to thrive. Russell Hansbrough leads the pack with 391 yards and a 65.2 yards per game average. Both Henry Josey and Marcus Murphy are averaging more than 50 yards per game. If Missouri’s “three-headed monster” was only one player getting all the running touches like most teams, they’d be averaging more than 150 yards per game.
The offensive line has also been able to do what they couldn’t last season with the host of injuries. The left side senior duo of Justin Britt at tackle and Max Copeland at guard has led the way on the backside of the quarterback. They allowed Mauk to do well in his debut, and they are the anchor for the top-rushing numbers.
Defensively, Mizzou has stepped up in key areas. Defensive end Michael Sam has lead the way, tallying three sacks against Florida in what has now become an All-American season for him. Shane Ray caused a quarterback fumble that the Tigers recovered twice in as many weeks. What was a possibly worrisome injury for Lucas Vincent has turned out to be okay, and he will be ready to go against South Carolina.
Linebacking has been an intense position this year that has lived up to the level of intensity that an SEC winner needs. The emergence of Kentrell Brothers has been a big part of defensive success. Senior Andrew Wilson has led the group and is always finding a way to the ball.
With the loss of E.J. Gaines, Randy Ponder has really stepped up and shown that there is depth in the secondary. Freshman Aarion Penton filled in for the injured Gaines and let the Gators know early that they weren’t going to be able to pick on him. At every position across the board, Missouri is playing well.
If Missouri can get the win over South Carolina on Saturday, they will have started 8-0 for only the second time ever. The first was the undefeated team of 1960 that won the Big 8 Conference and the Orange Bowl, which was led by Dan Devine. There’s no doubt that Missouri can come away with the win with the incredible support it will have at a sold-out crowd at The ZOU this Saturday.