Both the No. 21 South Carolina Gamecocks and No. 5 Missouri Tigers limp into their SEC showdown on Saturday without their starting quarterbacks.
The Gamecocks sit at 5-2 and most recently suffered an upset at the hands of Tennessee as quarterback Connor Shaw was injured late and the offense faltered.
Missouri was much more fortunate. The Tigers were able to down the No. 22 Florida Gators behind the arm of freshman backup Maty Mauk and his 295 yards, touchdown and interception in place of James Franklin.
The Tigers stand alone atop the SEC East, but the Gamecocks are not far behind and can take a major step forward with a victory. The following is everything fans need to know about the critical contest.
When: Saturday, Oct. 26 at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Faurot Field, Columbia, MO
Television: ESPN 2
Live Stream: ESPN3
Betting Lines (via Vegas Insider)
- Over/Under: 52.5
- Spread: Missouri (-2.5)
Gamecocks Injury Report (via USA Today)
|Gamecocks Injury Report|
|Chaz Elder||S||10/20/2013||is questionable for Saturday's game against Missouri||Questionable||concussion|
|Carlton Heard||WR||10/20/2013||is questionable for Saturday's game against Missouri||Questionable||hamstring|
|James King||LB||10/20/2013||is questionable for Saturday's game against Missouri||Questionable||foot|
|Mike Matulis||T||10/20/2013||is questionable for Saturday's game against Missouri||Questionable||shoulder|
|Kyle Morini||LB||10/20/2013||is questionable for Saturday's game against Missouri||Questionable||elbow|
|Ronald Patrick||G||10/20/2013||is questionable for Saturday's game against Missouri||Questionable||ankle|
|Connor Shaw||QB||10/20/2013||is doubtful for Saturday's game against Missouri||Doubtful||knee|
|Gerald Turner||DE||10/20/2013||is questionable for Saturday's game against Missouri||Questionable||ankle|
|Cody Waldrop||C||10/20/2013||is questionable for Saturday's game against Missouri||Questionable||ankle|
|Devin Washington||DE||09/05/2013||is out indefinitely||Out||concussion|
|Brandon Wilds||RB||09/29/2013||is out indefinitely||Out||elbow|
Tigers Injury Report (via USA Today)
|Tigers Injury Report|
|James Franklin||QB||10/14/2013||is out indefinitely||Out||right shoulder|
|E.J. Gaines||CB||10/20/2013||is questionable for Saturday's game against South Carolina||Questionable||quadriceps|
|Ernest Payton||CB||09/01/2013||is expected to miss the remainder of the season||Out||knee|
Which Team Can Overcome Quarterback Woes?
The lack of a starting quarterback is going to cost one of these teams dearly. South Carolina will surely start junior Dylan Thompson, as illustrated by Josh Kendall of The State:
Thompson has plenty of experience and even attempted 127 passes last year, which he turned into a mediocre 1,027 yards, 10 touchdowns and two interceptions with a concerning 52 percent completion percentage.
South Carolina's offense stalled as soon as Thompson entered the game last week, but that should be mitigated through a week of practice. His best friend is now running back Mike Davis, who averages 6.7 yards per carry and has 879 yards and 10 touchdowns this season.
Meanwhile, the Tigers will assuredly be without Franklin, per Brett McMurphy of ESPN:
Things are more difficult to discern for the Tigers and Mauk. The freshman has just one game under his belt. It was far from the worst performance in the world, and it came against big-time competition, but he'll rely on his ground game and defense just as much as Thompson.
There's no clear advantage in this regard.
It is encouraging that the Missouri offense, which averaged 44.3 points with James Franklin under center, was able to score 36 with Mauk leading the way against a Florida defense that entered only giving up 16 per contest.
One important note that may have a huge impact is the presence of Shaw's versatility. On crafty sneaks and designed runs alike, Shaw has brought an additional 397 yards and three scores to the Gamecocks offense this year.
Take that away and a semblance of predictability settles over the South Carolina unit.
Missouri has been the better team all year and can ride a stable of running backs to victory here at home. Expect the freshman Mauk to notch the second win of his young career.
Tigers win 30-23
Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling