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South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Missouri Tigers Preview and Prediction

Gary Pinkel

Gary Pinkel

Missouri(3-1, 0-1) suffered its first loss after falling 21-13 to Kentucky in Week 4. The Tigers offense was held to just 338 total yards and went 6-of-14 on third down conversion attempts.

Pharoh Cooper

South Carolina(2-2, 0-1) is coming off a 31-14 win against UCF. It included a breakout performance by new starting quarterback Lorenzo Nunez.

Saturday's matchup is a must win for both teams who are looking to gain some ground in an open SEC East division.

South Carolina at Missouri

Kickoff: 12 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: SEC Network
Spread: Missouri -4

Three Things to Watch

1. Next in line

Drew Lock will make his first start for Missouri following Maty Mauk's suspension. He's seen limited time in each game and enters with 225 yards, one touchdown and one interception on 15-of-25 passing.

Lock has an opportunity to nab the starting job long-term should he provide a strong performance facing a struggling South Carolina defense.

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2. Is Lorenzo Nunez's sudden hype validated?

Nunez recorded 123 rushing yards on 30 attempts and threw for 184 yards and two touchdowns on 12-of-22 passing. The true freshman gave South Carolina's offense a much needed jolt after a disappointing 1-2 start and several lackluster performances from the quarterback position.

Nunez was a four-star prospect, so his natural ability shouldn't be much of a surprise. But was Saturday's game a sign of things to come or the product of a matchup against a bad UCF team?

3. Missouri vs. the injury bug

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel listed star linebacker Kentrell Brothers as questionable for Saturday's game. Brothers leads the SEC with 52 total tackles and also has three tackles for loss and two interceptions.

Missouri also needs to overcome injuries to two starting offensive players. Both tight end Sean Culkin and right tackle Nate Crawford were ruled out for Saturday's game.

Final Analysis

This game won't be a shootout by any means. Both Missouri and South Carolina have flaws in several areas, which should be on display Saturday.

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South Carolina's defense seems incapable of stopping opposing teams. Aside from Skai Moore, there's a lack of true SEC defensive talent. Its offense isn't much better with a lack of weapons outside of Pharoh Cooper.

Missouri has managed to capture "ugly wins" in 2015 and that will likely continue on Saturday. Despite Lock's inexperience as a starter, he's still managed to earn enough playing time to assume he'll be prepared for a matchup against one of the SEC's bottom-tier defenses.

Prediction: Missouri 17, South Carolina 7

— Written by Jason Hall, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and works for Fox Sports Florida. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhallFSN.