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Missouri Vs. South Carolina Preview: Will the Real Team Please Stand Up?

Kevin C. Cox - Getty Images

Missouri Tigers vs. South Carolina Gamecocks, 3:30 p.m. ET, CBS

In a week that will mostly provide confirmation of what we already know about SEC teams, the game between Missouri and South Carolina has the chance to actually helps us figure out how good each of these teams are. Maybe.

Look at the stats of either the Tigers or the Gamecocks, and you'll see a mixture of things they do well and not so well, not always with a lot of rhyme or reason. Look at the schedule, and things don't become clear -- South Carolina struggled against Vanderbilt and destroyed two cupcakes, while Missouri waxed its cupcake, collapsed in the second half against the elite team it faced (Georgia), and won narrowly over a team of uncertain quality (Arizona State).

Making things even less clear is the expected return of Missouri quarterback James Franklin and South Carolina starter Connor Shaw after a week in which their backups shined. Both are mobile quarterbacks that have already proven injury-prone, and, at least in the case of South Carolina, it's not entirely clear that Shaw is the better passer. How long either quarterback's leash will be is an open question.

Of course, the fact that there is some uncertainty on both sides means today's game won't be determinative, either. If South Carolina does well, it either means that the Gamecocks' SEC hopes are legitimate or that Missouri isn't quite as good as the Arizona State win might suggest. If Missouri wins, it could indicate that the Tigers are still going to be a factor in the SEC East race or that South Carolina was massively overvalued in the preseason. An extraordinarily close game could mean any one of those things, or maybe something else entirely.

The last couple of weeks have shown me that you get burned going too far away from your preseason picks based on insufficient evidence. We don't really have enough evidence on either of these teams to change my earlier prediction, but the confidence level here is very low.

South Carolina 24, Missouri 20