Preview: Mizzou vs. South Carolina

Mizzou Football begins its SEC schedule in the Battle of Columbia on Saturday, as they head to Columbia, S.C., to take on the Gamecocks of South Carolina.

Columbia, S.C., like Columbia, Mo., is located smack-dab in the middle of the state. There are seven cities named Columbia in the United States, but the two facing off Saturday are the only ones with Division I football programs.

Mizzou and South Carolina are similar in more than just name: Mizzou Head Coach Gary Pinkel and South Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier are the only two coaches in the country to hold the all-time wins record at two separate universities (Pinkel at Toledo and Mizzou, Spurrier at Florida and South Carolina).

Accentuating the significance of Saturday’s showdown, ESPN’s popular Saturday morning preview show “College GameDay” will be on the campus of the University of South Carolina. The show airs from 8-11 a.m. CT, and Saturday will mark the sixth time GameDay has been on location for a Mizzou game. The most recent was in 2010, when Mizzou defeated then-No. 1 Oklahoma. Mizzou brought 18,000 fans out to Francis Quadrangle that Saturday morning, setting a College Gameday attendance record that still stands.

The all-time series between Mizzou and South Carolina stands deadlocked at two wins apiece. Mizzou has won six consecutive games away from home dating back to last season and hasn’t lost on the road since 2012. The Tigers went a sterling 5-0 on the road in 2013, and are 1-0 away from The ZOU this season with a 49-24 win at Toledo in week two. The streak of six straight road victories is currently tied for the third-longest streak in school history.

Difference Makers

Mizzou currently ranks second in the SEC with 14.0 sacks and leads the conference with a total of 101 yards lost on those sacks. The Tigers are also top in the SEC in defensive takeaways with nine (five interceptions, four fumbles).

Missouri Football vs UCF - September 13, 2014 (Photo by Ben Walton)Individually, Shane Ray leads the conference in sacks with 6.0, and Markus Golden, who missed last week with a hamstring injury, comes in at No. 3 with his 4.0 QB takedowns. Each defensive end has recorded at least one sack in each game they have played in so far this season.

In the takeaway department, defensive back Aarion Penton’s two interceptions are the second-highest total in the SEC.

On the offensive side of the ball, Maty Mauk leads the conference with 15 total touchdowns, and Bud Sasser ranks second among receivers with four TD catches on the year. Sasser is also third in the conference in receiving yards with 338.

Despite last week’s loss to Indiana, Mizzou has moved on and is primed and ready.

Running back Marcus Murphy reiterated the team’s positive outlook at Media Day on Monday, September 22

“It was different than I expected. I expected some guys to be down about the loss, but everyone was enthusiastic in practice,” Murphy said. “The guys were ready to just let it go and focus on South Carolina. I can see the urgency to come out, compete, and get back on track.”

Kickoff for the Mizzou-South Carolina game is set for 6 p.m. CT, on ESPNMizzou Football will post live updates on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook throughout the game, and fans can also listen in via Tiger Network radio affiliates.