Still riding high on last week’s upset win over Tennessee, the South Carolina Gamecocks look to carry the momentum into the weekend as they host Missouri. The Tigers, on the other hand, will be bitter after a disappointing division loss, courtesy of the Kentucky Wildcats. Both of these teams, which have both been SEC East powerhouses in very recent history, have been mediocre at best the last couple of seasons. Both teams will be desperate for a win in order to keep their post-season hopes alive. Bowl eligibility is well within striking distance for South Carolina, but not so much for Mizzou, as the Tigers would have to win out to become eligible.
Battle of the Columbias: South Carolina vs Missouri Rivalry
Dwindling bowl hopes will certainly keep this contest heated and interesting, but there that runs much deeper in this game. Although young, a deep rivalry between these two teams, appropriately dubbed “The Battle of the Columbias”, continues to smolder. It goes back 36 months to a chilly autumn night in Columbia, Missouri.
The Tigers hadn’t been expected to accomplish much of anything in 2013. Most predictions picked the newest addition to the Southeastern Conference to finish sixth in their own division. Not surprising, seeing how the Tigers only managed a 5-7 overall record in inaugural season in the SEC the previous year. However, the Tigers ended up knocking off the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens, as well as the Florida Gators at home. The Tigers quickly climbed up the polls from No. 25 to No. 5.
That Epic October Night
That’s when Connor Shaw had seen enough. Hobbled by a left knee in a brace, Shaw suited up. The queasy quarterback took the field midway through the third quarter with his team down by seventeen points, relieving backup junior quarterback Dylan Thompson.
As Shaw took the ball into his hands, the atmosphere on the field completely changed. The entire offense moved the ball almost effortlessly, making Missouri’s defense hardly look like that a top-five contender. Even the Gamecocks’ largely-lethargic defense was hitting with more authority, shutting down Mizzou’s dual-threat quarterback Maty Mauk. With under a minute left to play, Shaw hit receiver Nick Jones for the game-tying touchdown.
Mizzou scored easily in the first overtime. The Gamecocks struggled to match, until fourth and goal from the fifteen yard line, when Shaw hit receiver Bruce Ellington to send the game into a second overtime. The Gamecocks settled for a field goal after star running back, Mike Davis, went down with an injury, taking the lead for the first time in the game. Mizzou was denied a touchdown, and Andrew Baggett was sent out to hopefully send the game into a third overtime. The ball clanked off the left goal post from twenty-four yards out, and the Gamecocks swarmed the field, howling their 27-24 victory.
Eventually, the game proved not to derail Mizzou’s SEC Championship berth hopes. The Tigers won out and faced off against Auburn in the Georgia Dome, but the bruise left by the Gamecocks that October night was slow to heal.
In the End
The most recent match-ups between these two teams were again shootouts, although in favor of the Tigers. The following year, the Tigers took home the victory by one point. Last year, the Gamecocks lost again under interim head coach, Shawn Elliott, 24-10. As they prepare to host the Tigers Saturday at 4PM ET on SECN, the Gamecocks look to have another epic win against their newfound rival.