Gamecocks prove point against Mizzou

South Carolina Gamecocks defensive tackle Byron Jerideau (70) brings down Missouri Tigers running back Kendial Lawrence (4) in the second half at Williams-Brice Stadium. (Jeff Blake-US PRESSWIRE)

During the week leading up to South Carolina’s game against Missouri, “experts” around the nation were picking the Tigers to upset the Gamecocks.

However, at no time during USC’s 31-10 thumping of Mizzou did the Gamecocks come close to being upset. If not for the last-minute touchdown by Mizzou against Spurrier’s third-stringers, the Gamecocks would have held Mizzou to under 100 yards rushing and passing.

The Tigers quickly found out that the Gamecocks were there to prove a point. What point, you ask? That USC has one of the premier defenses in the nation.

[Related: Gamecocks Ace Sanders electrifying punt return vs Mizzou]

Even without senior safety DJ Swearinger, who was serving a one-game suspension for an illegal hit the week before, USC dominated the Mizzou hurry-up offense. In their first three games, the Tigers were running an average of 77 plays per contest. In the loss to USC, Mizzou ran just 58 plays.

With the performance, the Gamecocks are now eighth in the nation at stopping the run and fifth in points allowed, trailing only LSU and Alabama in the SEC.

The Gamecocks’ defensive line had its way with the Tigers, controlling the Mizzou offense. Sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney noted how the defense was able to be so dominant.

“A fast tempo game wasn’t working for us,” Clowney said. “It will really wear their players out and ours, but if we keep up with them we can slow them down. So that’s what we ended up doing, and they played where we wanted them to play.”

In addition, junior quarterback Connor Shaw completed his last 20 passes of the game, which is the second best streak in SEC history (Tennessee’s Tee Martin, 24 consecutive passes).

Both the USC defense and Shaw will look to continue their hot streak this Saturday against lowly Kentucky. The Wildcats were blasted by Florida, 38-0, this past Saturday.

Good news for the Gamecocks, UK may be relegated to a third-string freshman quarterback due to injuries.

Kentucky knocked off No. 10 South Carolina two years ago in Lexington. With that said, this is a much better USC team and a much worse Wildcat team.

Game time is set for 7:00 PM ET on Saturday.

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