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No. 20 South Carolina hosts No. 5 Missouri Saturday
By: Robert Livingston - StatFox
Published: 10/26/2013  at  5:59:00 AM
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Kickoff: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Line: Missouri -2.5, Total: 52

No. 5 Missouri will look to add another signature win to its undefeated record Saturday night as they take on a No. 20 South Carolina team coming off a disappointing loss to Tennessee.

The Tigers have been the surprise of this college football season, now coming off back-to-back wins against Florida and Georgia. Missouri is not only 7-0 SU, but also 6-1 ATS with an offense averaging 44.3 PPG (8th in nation). Last week’s win was important, showing they could beat the Gators even without top QB James Franklin, who’s out indefinitely with an injured shoulder. The Gamecocks, despite a lot of hype entering this season, are now 5-2 SU and just 2-5 ATS. Their loss to Georgia was understandable, but last week’s 23-21 defeat at the hands of the Volunteers was a real setback. In that game, starting QB Connor Shaw left with a knee injury and is doubtful for Saturday’s action. That’s bad news for a Gamecocks team that is just 1-3 ATS on the road in 2013. When these two teams met last year, though, Steve Spurrier’s squad had no problem dispatching the Tigers, winning 31-10 and easily covering a 10-point spread. Missouri has thrived against elite competition for the past three seasons, going 6-0 ATS versus teams with a win pct. between 60% and 75%, but South Carolina has also taken down some high-quality opponents under Spurrier, going 13-5 ATS (72%) versus excellent teams (17+ PPG margin) since becoming the school's head coach.

Which SEC team will come out on top in this clash of top-25 teams? For the answer, connect to College Football Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 regular season and bowl season. The four experts are a combined 58% ATS (82-60-5) in college football Best Bets for the season, led by StatFox Gary who is 72% ATS (13-5-1) in college football Best Bets over the past six weeks and 64% ATS (14-8-1) this year. StatFox Brian is 9-3 ATS in the past two weeks and 61% ATS (20-13-1) in Best Bets this season, while StatFox Dave is 57% ATS (26-20-1) and StatFox Scott is 54% ATS (22-19-2) for yearly CFB Best Bets.

Losing QB Connor Shaw would be a big blow for South Carolina as he has put up solid numbers this season. He has 11 TD passes and only 1 INT while completing 92-of-145 passes (63.4%) for 1,307 yards. His replacement, Dylan Thompson, is just 29-for-51 (56.9%) on passes this year with 2 TD and 2 INT. Even with a weakened pass game though, the offense has hope in star RB Mike Davis, who has already found the end zone 10 times this season while gaining 879 yards on a hefty 6.7 YPC average. He also has 201 receiving yards on 17 catches. WRs Damiere Byrd (19 rec., 384 yards, 3 TD) and Bruce Ellington (21 rec., 332 yards, 3 TD) also have big-play ability. On defense, the unit has high upside with star DE Jadeveon Clowney, and has succeeded on the ground, yielding only 4.0 YPC. Through the air though, foes are completing more than 60% of their passes for 7.0 yards per attempt and a whopping 11.6 yards per completion.

Despite missing QB James Franklin last week, Missouri didn't miss a beat with redshirt freshman Maty Mauk stepping in and completing 18-of-36 passes for 295 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT. The Tigers piled up more than 500 yards in the win against a solid Gators defense. Though the offense has some health issues with RBs Russell Hansbrough (438 rush yards, 6.8 YPC, 3 TD) and Marcus Murphy (357 rush yards, 8.7 YPC, 5 TD) both questionable for action with toe and concussion ailments, respectively, they have a deep stable of backs that can contribute, such as RB Henry Josey (494 rush yards, 6.0 YPC, 8 TD). And in the air, Mauk can regularly count on guys like L’Damian Washington (32 rec., 539 yards, 7 TD) and Dorial Green-Beckham (30 rec., 451 yards, 4 TD) to make plays. Defensively, the Tigers are stingiest on the ground with 3.6 YPC allowed, and aren’t terrible against the pass either, giving up 6.2 yards per attempt and 10.0 yards per completion.

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