South Carolina Gamecocks at Missouri Tigers (-2.5, 53.5)
Missouri has made a surprising rise to the top of the SEC East but faces one of its biggest challenges yet when the seventh-ranked Tigers host No. 20 South Carolina on Saturday night. Missouri has knocked off division powers Georgia and Florida the past two weeks to establish itself as the front-runner to reach the SEC championship game and checked in at No. 5 in the first BCS standings. "It's obvious that our team has to deal with that distraction," Missouri coach Gary Pinkel told reporters. "They went from two weeks ago not dealing with anything to now being a lot of things out there. The more they look at those things the less focus they will have as a player."
The Gamecocks have gone the other way, falling from lofty preseason expectations with two early losses, including a 23-21 defeat at Tennessee last week that dropped them two games behind the Tigers in the loss column. "It's possible," Spurrier said of his team's SEC East title hopes. "We know we have to win every game from here. We put ourselves in that situation, and we've just got to make the best of it." South Carolina will have its hands full with Missouri, which is the only team besides Oregon to have won each of its games by 15 or more points.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, ESPN2.
LINE: Missouri opened a 3-point favorite and has come down to -2.5. The total has moved from 53 to 53.5.
WEATHER: Temperatures in the low 50s with clear skies and winds blowing SW at 2 mph.
ABOUT SOUTH CAROLINA (5-2, 3-2 SEC, 2-5 ATS): The Gamecocks began the season ranked seventh but have underperformed and are in danger of falling out of the Top 25 if they can't right the ship this week. Backup quarterback Dylan Thompson will get the start in place of Connor Shaw (knee), meaning they're likely to lean on running back Mike Davis, who has recorded six 100-yard rushing games. South Carolina ranks 21st in the nation in total defense (342.6 yards per game) but will need a big game from star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney and company against a Missouri offense that averages 513.4 yards and 44.3 points per contest.
ABOUT MISSOURI (7-0, 3-0, 6-0-1 ATS): The Tigers' first season in the SEC was derailed by injuries, but Missouri didn't miss a beat with redshirt freshman Maty Mauk under center in last week's 36-17 win over Florida. Mauk stepped in for injured senior James Franklin and passed for 295 yards and a touchdown while adding a rushing score to earn SEC Freshman of the Week honors. Missouri's defense has been the biggest surprise, though, thanks to an outstanding defensive line led by Michael Sam, who leads the SEC in sacks (9) and tackles for loss (13).
* Gamecocks are 1-5 ATS in their last six games overall.
* Tigers are 6-1 ATS in their last seven conference games.
* Over is 8-1 in Gamecocks' last nine conference games.
1. Missouri has forced a turnover in 37 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the FBS. The Tigers' 14 interceptions are tied for the most in the nation.
2. Thompson is 2-0 as a starter with wins over East Carolina and Clemson. He has completed 53.9 percent of his passes in his career for 1,465 yards and 12 touchdowns with four interceptions.
3. The Tigers have not started 8-0 since going 11-0 in 1960 under legendary coach Dan Devine.