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Mizzou hosts South Carolina with Mayor’s Cup on the line

The Battle of the Columbias rages on.

NCAA Football: UCLA at Texas A&M Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

The Missouri Tigers (2-1) open conference play Saturday afternoon as they welcome the South Carolina Gamecocks (1-2, 0-1 SEC) to Faurot Field.

How to watch or stream

Time: 4 p.m. ET/3 p.m. CT

TV: SEC Network Alternate (Check local listings)

Stream: WatchESPN (Where available)


Preview

After an inexplicable loss to Wyoming to begin their season, Kelly Bryant and the Missouri Tigers have gotten back on track, picking up victories over West Virginia and Southeast Missouri State in the past two weeks. Bryant has looked every bit of the quarterback Mizzou thought it was getting, completing an efficient 66% of his passes this season and having six touchdowns to just two interceptions. Bryant was a bright spot in that aforementioned Wyoming game, passing for over 400 yards as he nearly led Mizzou to a comeback victory. The Tigers haven’t needed to throw the ball much in the two wins this year, but Bryant has done an excellent job taking care of the ball and making smart throws. He also has experience against South Carolina, going 23-34 with 272 yards and two touchdowns in Clemson’s 34-10 victory over the Gamecocks in 2017.

Much like Bryant, Mizzou’s skill players have also done their jobs very well this season. Through the first three games, seven different receivers have at least five catches with Jonathon Johnson leading the way with 12. Jalen Knox leads in receiving yards, though, with 192 on nine catches.

Mizzou’s pass defense has been very good after the first week, as well. They gave up just one play of 20+ yards in the past two games, and held SEMO to just 54 passing yards in the 50-0 victory. Ryan Hilinski and the Gamecocks will have their work cut out for them.

Speaking of Hilinski, he comes into this game as the SEC Freshman of the Week after passing for 324 yards and two touchdowns in South Carolina’s loss to Alabama last week. If Mizzou’s defense has started resting or getting comfortable after the past two weeks, Hilinski will snap them back to reality in a major way.

Rico Dowdle also looked good against Alabama, rushing for 102 yards on 12 carries. On paper, a South Carolina team starting a true freshman quarterback would be in some trouble as conference play begins, but it seems like last week’s game against Alabama, despite the loss, has brought back some confidence among the fanbase.

Will Muschamp has never lost to Mizzou at South Carolina, and Barry Odom has never beaten the Gamecocks. This also may be worth keeping in mind as the game develops.