Unfortunately, Missouri has been on the short end of the stick since 2015, which if you recall, Missouri knocked off the Gamecocks 24-10 at home, in Drew Lock’s first career start as a Tiger. But Missouri has not seen much success versus the Gamecocks at home in recent years. In 2013, Missouri lost an absolute heartbreaker after kicker Andrew Baggett, hit the upright to tie the game in double-overtime. Missouri went on to go 12-2 that year. In 2017, the Tigers would lose yet again, 31-13, in a beatdown.
Now Missouri has the chance to avenge themselves and to finally beat the team that has had their number in Barry Odom's three seasons at the helm. How can they do that? Here are the three keys to the game that if executed, the Tigers can finally take the cup back to the good Columbia.
1. The first thing that Missouri needs to do is establish the run game. We saw in Week One in Laramie how much of an effect it can be for the offense, if the run game is going nowhere. The offense came to a halt as a unit once the ability to run the ball stopped. We were also able to see how good the offense can be if the run game does indeed dominate. It opens things up for Kelly Bryant in terms of play-action and it takes off a lot of pressure off of him as well. If Missouri can establish themselves at the line, that’s a key piece of the puzzle for the Tigers to get Coach Odom's first win over the Gamecocks.
2. The next big thing Missouri will have to do to win this game, is to contain promising freshman quarterback Ryan Hilinski. Hiliniski started the season as the backup to Jake Bentley, until the first week of the season, after Bentley suffered a foot injury versus North Carolina. Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp stated that Bentley will be out for an “extended period of time”. Hilinkski has gone on to show great potential and has given good reason to be kept as the starter, even if Bentley does make a return. Last week against the Alabama, Hilinski went 36/57 and 324 yards and two touchdowns as well as one interception to go with it. Those numbers are impressive as it is, but once you realize that he did that against the second ranked team in the nation, it makes it all the more impressive. Missouri will have to figure out a way to contain Hilinski and force the Gamecocks to have a one-dimensional offense.
3. The last point of emphasis for the Tigers will be winning the turnover battle. Similar to the ground game, turnovers have proven to be the difference already. Against Wyoming, the Tigers forced no turnovers and had three themselves and it proved to be the deciding factor in the game. Unlike against Wyoming, in Week Two versus West Virginia, Missouri did the exact opposite and won the turnover battle by three and cruised to a victory 38-7. If the Tigers can find a way to win the turnover battle, I don't see a reason why they will not win this game.
Missouri has a great chance to end a three-game losing skid against a tough team. They have the talent and it will all come down to if Odom can assemble a good game plan to get the team ready for their toughest test of the season yet. If Missouri is able to win, it’ll give the team a big boost of confidence going into a stretch of winnable games before eventually heading into Athens.
Missouri will play at 3:00 p.m. CST on SEC Network Alternate. Mizzou is a 9.5 point favorite.