After an emotional victory last week, No. 14 South Carolina will try to avoid a hangover when it hosts Mississippi State at Williams-Brice Stadium (12:20 p.m., WMMP). Here’s a look at the matchup:
Handling success, again
If this week feels a lot like Tennessee week, there’s a good reason for that. Once again, South Carolina is coming off a big win — albeit with difference circumstances. The Gamecocks failed to handle their success in the wake a blowout win at Arkansas, losing to the Vols one week later. Now, they get a mulligan. USC clearly knows how to deal with adversity. It must show it can handle success.
You know the X-Men character Wolverine. His adaptation was not razor-sharp claws, but the miraculous ability to heal from wounds. Sounds a lot like South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw. Twice this season, Shaw has returned from a sprain (shoulder and knee) to play the next week without missing a game. When Steve Spurrier said earlier this week Shaw was battling the flu — and Dylan Thompson was available if needed — nobody could take it seriously. Linebacker T.J. Holloman said Shaw is superman. In reality, he’s the Wolverine. All he’s missing is a wicked-cool beard. And claws.
The running game
Finally, a defense figured out how to slow Mike Davis on the ground. Missouri contained Davis to inside the tackles, not letting him spring long runs on the edge. It also forced Davis to fumble twice. Of course, Davis still hurt the Tigers in the passing game, but his 51 rushing yards were a season low. USC doesn’t need Davis to reach 100 rushing yards to win Saturday, but it needs to get the running game back on track at some point this month, preferably before playing Florida. This weekend would be a good time to start.
History at home
Steve Spurrier said he’s never seen a schedule like USC had this season, with five of the first eight games on the road. In the past five weeks, the Gamecocks logged 4,500 miles roundtrip going to Orlando, Fayetteville, Knoxville and Missouri. That’s an exhaustive month-plus, but it allows USC to end the season at home throughout the month of November. During that stretch, history could be made. USC will go for its 15th straight home win Saturday, which would tie a program record.
South Carolina 35, Mississippi State 17