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Mississippi State vs. South Carolina: The Big Preview

Woooo! State's on a winning streak! That's the good news. The bad news? A tough, tough final five games awaits, starting Saturday in Columbia against South Carolina. Can the Bulldogs go on the road in a hostile environment and grab a rare road win? Will Connor Shaw play? What about SC star Mike Davis? Questions abound for Saturday's big early game matchup, so let us help you get prepared with this week's The Big Preview.

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MSU VS. South Carolina

It's time for week eight of The Big Preview, as we try to get a winning streak going! The good news is that the Bulldogs remain mostly healthy and could match up well with South Carolina. The bad news is that the Gamecocks just went on the road and defeated #5 Missouri, and are in fact a very good team. The Bulldogs are a nearly two touchdown underdog going on the road Saturday, but can they pull off the unimaginable?

With just three days until kickoff, make sure get all previewed up and ready for this weekend's matchup. Let us help you get prepped with our Matchups Preview (Clowney versus the MSU O-Line), our Game Preview, a question and answer session with our friends at Garnet and Black Attack, and finally our Totally Serious Opponent Report.

Click any of the four links below to scroll directly to the section that you're looking for (each section also features a button at the end to take you back to the top of the page):

Matchup Preview - South Carolina by Metal Building Dawg
By the Numbers -- Mississippi State vs. South Carolina by cristilmethod
Q&A with SBNation site Garnet and Black Attack with Gamecock Man
Totally Serious Opponent Report - South Carolina by cristilmethod

Matchups Preview -- South Carolina

by Metal Building Dawg

I'm just going to focus on one matchup: Clowney vs. MSU offense.

We all know what Jadeveon Clowney is capable of. He's a monster, and when properly motivated he can totally disrupt an offense. So far this year he has 24 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 pass break up and 7 QB hurries. But the stats don't always measure his impact on the game. He gets double and triple teamed at times. The South Carolina defensive line has been one of the best in the SEC the last three years with him on one end.

MSU vs. South Carolina - Sidebar

Blaine Clausell gets the unenviable task of going against Clowney in any 1-on-1 situations. Clausell is serviceable, but I really don't like our chances in that matchup. Will we have to use Brandon Hill or Malcolm Johnson to help Blaine with Clowney? Will Gabe Jackson make up the double team? I don't really know about trying to block him, that's a tough call. You can provide additional manpower but the Gamecocks have other talented D-lineman who can burn you if you do that. We may just have to get creative in play-calling.

Here's one thing we can't see: Perkins trying to run horizontal to gain yards between the hash mark and the sideline. In fact, scratch this terrible play out of the playbook. Has it gained more than three yards this year? Half the time Perk is tackled behind the line of scrimmage. We need to be running vertically. USC is middle of the pack in run defense - basically the same as MSU's rush D. We can move the ball on the ground, but we won't do it trying to gain off the edge.

Here's one thing we need to see: the screen pass. Where is it? We hardly ever use it. Against Kentucky Prescott was sacked three times on 3rd down - not a single time did we have a back in the flat for him to check down to. We don't even have a tailback blocking in those obvious throwing situations half the time, but if we aren't at least give Dak the option to dump it off when pressure comes. This is pretty elementary stuff, right? If Clowney breaks free, on 3rd down or not, we need a check down to get rid of the ball so we don't take a sack.

The read option: The good thing about the read option is you can double team Clowney and leave one of the other lineman unblocked. Then read how that lineman reacts to determine if Dak should keep the ball or hand it off. This basically nullifies the loss of the additional blocker whether it be a TE or G. South Carolina has not seen anything the likes of Dak Prescott's read option this year.

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By the Numbers - South Carolina

by cristilmethod

MSU vs. South Carolina - Sidebar

1 -- Number of turnovers for Mississippi State in its last two games. The Bulldogs rank third in the SEC in turnover margin, while the Gamecocks rank 12th out of 14 teams. If there is an area where MSU might be able to gain an advantage on the road Saturday, it's in the turnover department.

1 -- The strength of schedule ranking for MSU's final five games. The road to bowl eligibility for MSU won't be an easy one, and Saturday's game against the 14th ranked Gamecocks is a big part of why State holds the nation's most difficult remaining schedule in 2013.

1 -- also the number where South Carolina RB Mike Davis ranks in the conference in rushing yards per game. With as much as we talk about T.J. Yeldon and Jeremy Hill, I think it's time we really start paying more attention to just how good Davis is. Sure, he's got some fumble issues, but he's just 70 yards away from 1,000 on the season, and you don't just accumulate numbers that good by accident.

3 -- the number of ways that Jameon Lewis scored for Mississippi State against Kentucky last week. It wasn't Jameon's first time either to pass, run, and receive a touchdown in a game, and who knows, it may not be his last either. For MSU to have a fighting chance on Saturday, we'll need a big game from #4, and I wouldn't be sad if he decided that he wanted to add another three-way scoring game to his resume in Columbia on Saturday.

7 -- sacks for South Carolina defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles. We talk so much about Jadeveon Clowney, and while we do, Kelcy has been quietly racking up a very nice season. While defenses continue to focus -- and rightfully so -- on Clowney, Quarles keeps finding his way into the backfield. He ranks second in the league behind only Michael Sam of Missouri.

17 -- the total number of points that MSU has scored this season in the fourth quarter. Even if you take out the two blowout wins over Alcorn St. and Troy, that's an alarming number. We've all been aware of the struggles as of late for MSU in the second half of games, and that number just goes to show how bad it really is in the game's final quarter. If things go right for State on Saturday, they could be in another close game like they were at Auburn. Dak Prescott and company are going to have to find a way to improve upon those fourth quarter scoring numbers if they want a chance to win against a very good South Carolina team. In comparison, the Gamecocks have scored 59 points in the final quarter of games so far this season.

48.6 -- rushing yards per game average for South Carolina QB Connor Shaw. Shaw looks to be a game time decision for Saturday, and if he can't go, that would be a lost dimension to the USC offense. Shaw's gutsy performance last week led his team to a huge road win at #5 Missouri, so not having him Saturday would be a huge loss for the garnet and black. Our friends at Garnet and Black Attack say they expect him to play though, so it looks like we will see Shaw after all.

205.43 -- rushing yards per game for Mississippi State this season. That number will be important Saturday, because the Bulldogs will need a strong ground game to have a chance to win. South Carolina has a surprisingly stingy passing defense (4th in the conference), so the focus will be on establishing the ground game and hoping to find a way to run past Clowney and Quarles up front.

0 -- wins versus top 15 opponent for Dan Mullen, wins against South Carolina for MSU since Y2K. The proverbial no big wins monkey continues to hang on Mullen's back, but Saturday could be a chance to finally shake it. South Carolina is BY NO MEANS considered by anyone to be an easy win, but of the remaining games against ranked opponents in 2013, State fans do seem to feel the best about Saturday's game. Mullen could shake that label off Saturday all while helping MSU win its first game against the Gamecocks since 1999. The Bulldogs have had some success in Columbia (4-3 all time), but they'll need to channel some late 90s magic if they want a chance to grab a road win come Saturday around lunch.

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Injury Report - Auburn

Mississippi State Injury Report


Torrey Dale, Brandon Hill, Jordan Washington


Jeremey Chappelle, Brandon Holloway, Tyler Russell

Out for Season

Jay Hughes, Justin Malone

Q&A with Garnet and Black Attack

with Gamecock Man

1) How has the 2013 season been as a South Carolina football fan? Has it been as much of a roller coaster ride as it has seemed from the outside?

It's definitely been a roller-coaster ride. South Carolina has had its highs and lows. In the past two weeks, we lost at a mediocre Tennessee team and followed that loss up with a stirring comeback to beat top-five Mizzou at their place. We were ten down at the half to a good Central Florida team and dominated most of the second half to win the game. We've raced to big leads in games against Vandy and Kentucky only to bleed those leads late in the game. Almost every game has been an adventure. And then, of course, you have the whirlwind of drama surrounding Jadeveon Clowney, which I'm sure you're all familiar with.

That said, honest Carolina fans knew that this was all a possibility. Carolina is a very young team with only four scholarship seniors. There's massive amounts of youth on this team on both offense and defense, including a linebacking corps that literally had no major experience coming into the season on the entire two-deep. There's talent at every position, and we're hoping that the Mizzou game was a step forward, but with a talented but very young team, uneven play had to be expected.

2) Everyone knows that much of Jadeveon Clowney's impact has not been measurable through his statistics. Who have been some of the players to step up and take advantage of teams scheming away from Clowney?

DT Kelcy Quarles has stepped up to have a big season. Quarles leads the team in TFL with 10 and sacks with 7. He's been coming on particularly strong in recent weeks and had a huge game in the upset win at Mizzou. He's a very versatile player with the power to beat blocks and plug gaps against the run, as well as the explosiveness and speed to get to the QB against the pass. He also seems to be emerging as the kind of emotional leader we've needed on the defensive side of the ball.

3) From the wide receiver group to the tight ends to Connor Shaw to Mike Davis, this South Carolina offense has a ton of weapons. Who has impressed you the most offensively?

Mike Davis is South Carolina's best weapon offensively; other than some persistent problems with fumbles, he's a complete back who runs with both power and speed, catches the ball well (he had 10 catches for 99 yards against Mizzou), and pass-blocks well (he laid out Michael Sam on Connor Shaw's fourth-down TD to Bruce Ellington to force the second overtime). However, I have to give my biggest shoutout to Connor Shaw. Outside of an uneven performance against Tennessee, Shaw has been astoundingly good this year, silencing all the doubters who have said he's a one-dimensional running QB. He beats teams with both his arms and his legs, and he doesn't turn the ball over, to boot. He's having a fantastic year, and I hope I don't sound like a homer in suggesting that he deserves All-SEC consideration despite a deep group of SEC quarterbacks.

4) Many Mississippi State fans have circled this game from the beginning of the year as a potential upset for the Bulldogs. How have South Carolina fans felt about this?

Speaking for myself, I can't blame Miss. St. fans for being excited for the possibility for an upset. Carolina is a good, talented team, and I feel that we *should* beat Miss. St., especially at home. However, I definitely view Miss. St. as a team with talent and a smart coaching staff, a team that will beat us if it plays its best game and we don't play ours. Obviously, recent games between the two programs have generally been fairly close, even if we've been winning them. This year's Carolina team, while capable of playing as well as any team in the country for stretches, has also had its rough spots, and if we revert to making mistakes this weekend, we'll definitely be in trouble. Any reasonable person would believe that MSU *could* beat such a team. Will they? I don't think so, but they can.

5) How do you see this game playing out? What is the one thing South Carolina has to do to win this football game?

While it's certainly possible that MSU will come out, play its best game, and give Carolina a huge test each and every play, I expect that Carolina will show that it's the more talented team and will win most of the offensive-defensive battles. However, one place where Miss. St. can create turnovers that will give it a chance will be special teams, where Carolina has struggled. If that is the case again this week, it may make a huge difference. If special teams plays as well as it did against Mizzou, though, I think Carolina should be able to win this game by a relatively comfortable margin of 10-17 points.

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Totally Serious Opponent Report

by cristilmethod

Last week was easy -- mostly because it's easy to hate on Kentucky. But what about South Carolina? I've never really minded them, nor do I know of much there to make fun of. Anyways, as I fill in again for James this week, I WILL find a way to press forward; I will give 100% in giving you the Totally Serious Opponent Report1 that you deserve.

  • So one of the easiest places to start out when we're doing a TSO-Report is to check out the list of alumni for the school we're getting ready to play. For South Carolina, the first name that caught my eye was that of noted 90s and current #dadrock artist Darius Rucker. Darius, as the lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish helped give this country some great summer anthem's such as Time, Only Wanna Be With You, Let Her Cry, and Hold My Hand. Since that time, Rucker has returned to the music scene recently as a solo country artist, producing one of the greatest covers of all time in his own rendition of the Old Crow Medicine Show song Wagon Wheel.2
  • Another alumnus that I did not know about until I started putting together the report last night was Amos Lee. All sarcasm aside, Amos is awesome. You get like, a billion cool points for him, Sakerlina.
  • This would be a good time to note that the proper pronunciation, at least so long as Steve Spurrier is coach there, is Sa-ker-line-a. Saying South Carolina is just some yankee ish, y'all.
  • So let's just continue down this list to look at famous alumns and OH MY GOD OH NO WHAT HAVE YOU DONE SOUTH CAROLINA:
  • Charlie Weis USC

  • You gave a masters degree to the man who is currently the second leading cause for depression in Kansas, behind only "living in Kansas". How could you. How could you do this to the world. Don't worry, your day will come. Because if he's been with you, USC, then that means that the losing virus is inside you too.
  • South Carolina's baseball program is really untouchable in the fact that they're awesome, and unless you're into making fun of national championships then there's not much there.
  • South Carolina basketball, on the other hand, is not quite as successful in its history. To save you time, I've displayed below the most important thing to happen in USC basketball history:3
  • Frank Martin Wrasslin'

  • And lastly, how could I go without talking about the legendary "Ole Ball Coach" -- South Carolina's head football coach Steve Spurrier. The man has been around seemingly forever, he's won national championships (elsewhere, mind you), Heisman trophys, and I assume he's loved many ladies and even more golf courses. But what is Spurrier the best at? Quite possibly snark. Yes, Spurrier, a highly successful football coach, is better at the only thing that separates some of us average joe bloggers from the rest of the faceless masses. Ever since I can remember him being on the national scene, Spurrier has been a quote machine, giving beat writers and fans alike plenty to laugh about. How is it fair that Spurrier can be a hall of fame coach AND funnier than all of us? It's not, but Hatin' A** Spurrier would probably tell you to deal with it, sucka. Also, MAD FAST FOOD GAME, SON.



South Carolina -- Missouri

Denny Medley-USA Today Sports

  • Jadeveon Clowney photograph in Matchups Preview courtesy Beth Hall-USA TODAY Sports
  • 1South Carolina fans, there's no need to get all up in arms about what you read in the Totally Serious Opponent Report. We do this every week. It's just for fun. If you're stumbling across this for the first time and now you're all huffy, I'm sorry.
  • 2Okay, I feel I need to say this here. I LOVED Hootie and the Blowfish back in the day. I still love their music, but I'm not a fan of Darius' new work. Also, THE WAGON WHEEL COVER SHOULD DIE A FIERY DEATH.
  • 3This is a picture of South Carolina basketball coach Frank Martin's head photoshopped on the body of a wrestler. I think it's a promotion for WWE coming to Columbia. Picture via Colonial Life Arena Instagram.
  • CLOWNey picture in the Totally Serious Opponent Report via Strange Brew Coffeehouse's Instagram.