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South Carolina and the Game that Made Missouri an SEC Team // SEC 2012: The New SEC

Blake Mitchell got a few of these looks in the 2005 Independence Bowl.
Blake Mitchell got a few of these looks in the 2005 Independence Bowl.

Looking at how well each team knows the conference's newest members

South Carolina History vs. New SEC Teams

First Meeting Last Meeting Record vs.
Missouri 1979 2005 0-2
Texas A&M 2013 (proj)
NA --

If you're looking for a player that might very well have made Missouri a viable candidate for the SEC, you might as well look to Marcus King. For the game, take a look at the 2005 Independence Bowl.

For a South Carolina fan, it was the 2005 season reduced to a game. All season, we had been treated either to Good Blake Mitchell (during a five-game winning streak) or Bad Blake Mitchell (three interceptions in the loss to Clemson). And in the Independence Bowl, we were treated to Good Blake Mitchell (23- and 20-yard touchdown passes in the first quarter) and Bad Blake Mitchell (three interceptions, one of which sealed the game for the Tigers).

In between, South Carolina blew a 28-7 lead with less than five minutes left in the second quarter and squandered one of Sidney Rice's best performances, when he caught 12 passes for 191 yards and a touchdown. But it wasn't all a story of what went wrong on South Carolina's side.

It started with Mitchell's first pick, which King took 99 yards for a touchdown that finally got Missouri on the board and narrowed the lead to 21-7. The Gamecocks scored almost immediately after that, and from there on out would manage only a field goal.

Brad Smith, meanwhile, was about to go off. There's no other way to explain what happened afterward. In all, Smith would account for 432 yards of total offense and four touchdowns (three rushing, one passing) to beat South Carolina almost on his own. After the Gamecocks pushed the lead back to 28-7, Smith hit passes of 23, 31, 20 and 30 yards and had rushes of 32 yards (touchdown) and 59 yards in the Missouri rally. Smith's rushing average for the day was 7.1 yards a carry.

For South Carolina, the win proved to be little more than another speed bump in the rocky beginning of Steve Spurrier's tenure. But some Missouri fans make a convincing case that the game was a turning point of sorts for the program, and Rock M Nation named it the seventh-best Missouri moment of the 2000s. It definitely seems to mark the beginning of an upward trend that paved the way for the idea of the Tigers entering the SEC.

It was also not the first time that South Carolina had its heart broken by Missouri after a successful season, at least by Gamecock standards. In 1979, the Gamecocks were ranked 16th heading into the Hall of Fame Bowl before Missouri defeated them 24-14. South Carolina fell out of the Top 20 rankings, which is as far as the AP poll went in 1979.

So there's the upside for South Carolina: Missouri can never again ruin a season in the bowl. But they'll still be more than capable of doing it in the middle of the season. The Gamecocks are the last team who would be able to claim it came as a surprise.