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Sept. 26, 2014

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The No. 13/15 South Carolina Gamecocks (3-1, 2-1 SEC) and the Missouri Tigers (3-1, 0-0 SEC) meet in an SEC Eastern Division showdown at a sold out Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 27. The 7 p.m. ET game will be televised nationally on ESPN.

Date: Saturday, September 27
Kickoff: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Columbia, S.C.
Stadium: Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)
Series: Series is tied 2-2
RADIO Flagship – 107.5 FM “The Game” & the IMG Network

GAMEDAY RETURNS: ESPN’s College GameDay Built by The Home Depot, featuring Chris Fowler, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and Desmond Howard, will visit the South Carolina campus for the seventh time. The Gamecocks own a 3-3 record when GameDay has been on campus. Here are those dates and opponents:
Nov. 10, 2001: #4 Florida 54, #14 South Carolina 17
Sept. 11, 2004: #3 Georgia 20, South Carolina 16
Aug. 31, 2005: South Carolina 24 , UCF 15
Oct. 28, 2006: #8 Tennessee 31, South Carolina 24
Oct. 9, 2010: #19 South Carolina 31 , #1 Alabama 28
Oct. 6, 2012: #6 South Carolina 35 , #5 Georgia 7

A South Carolina win over Missouri would…
Be its third-straight over the Tigers. Missouri won the first two meetings between the two schools, both in bowl games, but South Carolina is 2-0 against the Tigers as SEC Eastern Division rivals.

Give the Gamecocks a 3-0 record against SEC Eastern Division opponents this season. The Gamecocks have won 20 of their last 24 games against SEC Eastern Division foes.

Give the Gamecocks their 21st victory in their last 22 games at Williams-Brice Stadium.

Keep the Gamecocks in control of their own destiny to win the SEC Eastern Division title halfway through the SEC schedule. Three of the Gamecocks’ final four conference games will be on the road, with trips to Kentucky, Auburn and Florida. Only Tennessee remains on the home docket.

A LITTLE HISTORY: 2014 marks the 121st season of intercollegiate football at the University of South Carolina, dating back to 1892. It is the 108th-consecutive year in which South Carolina has competed on the gridiron. The University did not field a team in either 1893 or 1906. Carolina owns an all-time record of 579-548-44. The Gamecocks were nine games under .500 until head coach Steve Spurrier took the reins in 2005, but are 40 games over since that time.

SEC HISTORY: 2014 marks South Carolina’s 23rd year in the Southeastern Conference. South Carolina and Arkansas joined the league prior to the 1992 campaign. The Gamecocks earned their first SEC Eastern Division title in the 2010 season. Carolina was 37-66-1 (.361) in SEC action from 1992-2004, but is 43-32 (.573) in conference play since Coach Spurrier took the reins, including a 20-7 (.741) mark since 2011.

CAROLINA VS. MIZZOU: The all-time series between these two schools that claim Columbia as its home is deadlocked at two wins apiece. The first two contests were held at bowl sites, with Missouri posting a 24-14 win in the 1979 Hall of Fame Bowl in Birmingham, and a 38-31 come-from-behind win in the 2005 Independence Bowl in Shreveport. South Carolina won the first SEC Eastern Division battle between the two schools with a 31-10 win in Columbia, S.C. in 2012, then pulled out an improbable 27-24 double-overtime win in Columbia, Mo. last season.

SPURRIER VS. THE TIGERS: Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier is 2-1 in his career against Missouri, with Gary Pinkel working on the Tigers’ sidelines in all three contests. Mizzou posted a 38-31 win in Shreveport in the 2005 Independence Bowl, the final game of Coach Spurrier’s first season with the Gamecocks. Carolina returned the favor with a 31-10 win in Columbia, S.C. in 2012, then rallied for a 27-24 double-overtime win at Missouri last season.

THE LAST TIME THEY MET: In one of the more memorable games in recent history of South Carolina football, the No. 20/20 Gamecocks rallied from 17 points down in the fourth quarter to shock No. 5/7 Missouri, 27-24 in double-overtime on October 26, 2013 at Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Mo. Senior quarterback Connor Shaw came off the bench in the third quarter to lead the comeback. Shaw connected on 20-of-29 passes for 201 yards. He hit Nick Jones with a 2-yard scoring pass with 42 seconds left in regulation to send the game into overtime, then found Bruce Ellington in the endzone on 4th-and-15 to force the game into a second overtime. Elliott Fry hit from 40-yards out to put Carolina on top before Andrew Baggett’s attempt from 24-yards away caromed off the left upright, sending the Gamecock sideline into a frenzy.

THE LAST TIME THEY MET HERE No. 7/8 South Carolina scored 21 second-quarter points and never looked back in a convincing 31-10 win over Missouri on Sept. 22, 2012 in Columbia, S.C. Connor Shaw threw for 249 yards and two touchdowns and completed a school-record 20-consecutive passes in the win. He finished the day 20-of-21 passing and added 41 yards on the ground. The Gamecocks tallied 396 yards of total offense, with Marcus Lattimore adding 85 yards on 21 carries with a pair of TD runs. Ace Sanders returned six punts for 106 yards. Mizzou mustered just 255 yards of offense and did not reach the endzone until just 17 seconds remained in the contest.

IN THE TIGERS’ LAIR: Here’s how some of the Gamecocks have fared against Mizzou:
PASSING: Thompson: 16-29-1-225, 0 TD
RUSHING: Davis: 20-57
RECEIVING: Davis 10-99; Byrd 7-102; Anderson 4-51, 1 TD; Adams 3-48; Jones 3-44, 1 TD; Roland 1-4.

STIFF COMPETITION: The Gamecocks are the only FBS school to play three teams ranked in this week’s Top-25 in the first four weeks of the season. The Gamecocks lost to No. 6 Texas A&M, but defeated No. 12 Georgia and No. 23 East Carolina.

THE STREAK LIVES ON: The Gamecocks are tied for the fifth-longest current streak of being ranked in the A.P.’s Top-25. Carolina and Stanford have been ranked for 69-consecutive polls, trailing only Alabama, LSU, Oregon and Oklahoma. Carolina’s streak started with the second week of the 2010 season and is the longest streak in school history.

LIKE A PHOENIX FROM THE ASHES: The Gamecocks have climbed 11 spots in the Associated Press poll and eight spots in the Coaches’ poll over the last two weeks and come into this contest ranked 13th and 15th respectively in the two national polls. After surprisingly nearly falling out of the poll after a double-digit win over a solid East Carolina squad (that is ranked in this week’s Top-25), the Gamecocks are now just four spots from where they started the season in the Associated Press poll.

GOOD HOME COOKIN’: The Gamecocks are 20-1 in their last 21 games at Williams-Brice Stadium and 36-4 (.900) in their last 40 home games. The Gamecocks had their school-record 18-game home winning streak, the longest in the nation, snapped in the season opener. The school’s previous longest home winning streak was 15 games, set from 1978-80. The only home losses since the start of the 2009 season have come to top-ranked Florida in 2009, to 17th-ranked Arkansas in 2010 and to defending national champion Auburn in 2011 before the 2014 loss to Texas A&M.

HOME CROWD ADVANTAGE: The Gamecocks will be playing Mizzou in front of a sold out Williams-Brice Stadium. It will mark the 11th-consecutive home sellout for South Carolina. The Gamecocks rank 14th in the nation in home attendance with an average of 82,659 per game, including a season-high 84,232 against Georgia, the fifth-largest crowd to attend a game in Columbia.

BEATING THE EAST: The Gamecocks are 2-0 against SEC Eastern Division opponents in 2014. They are 20-4 against the SEC East in this decade. In each of the last three seasons, Carolina has defeated the SEC Eastern Division champion (Georgia in 2011 and `12 and Missouri in 2013). Carolina had never won more than three games in the division prior to Coach Spurrier’s arrival, but have done it five times since 2005: 2005 (4-1), 2010 (4-10), 2011 (5-0), 2012 (5-1), 2013 (4-2).

THE LAST TIME OUT: No. 14/16 South Carolina went on the road for the first time this season and came away with a 48-34 win in Nashville against the Vanderbilt Commodores. The Gamecocks overcame a 14-point first-quarter deficit with 17 second-quarter points to take the lead heading into intermission. Carolina clung to its three point advantage through three quarters, then scored 21 fourth-quarter points to rally to victory. Dylan Thompson completed 22-of-34 passes for 237 yards and three scores and ran for another. Pharoh Cooper set career highs with 10 catches for 114 yards. He also carried twice for 74 yards, including a 70-yard burst. Brison Williams returned an intercepted pass for a defensive score, helping to offset Vandy’s NCAA record-tying two kickoff returns for touchdowns. Elliott Fry continued his consistent work, hitting both field goal attempts, from 45 and 43 yards out. The 45-yarder matched his career long.

SET MY PEOPLE FREE: Pharoh Cooper seemed to be running free through the Vandy defense all night. The sophomore logged career highs with 10 receptions for 114 yards, and carried twice for 74 yards, including a 70-yard burst that was a back-breaker for the Commodores and was the second-longest run from scrimmage of his career.

PICK SIX: Brison Williams returned an interception 53 yards for a touchdown late in the first half at Vanderbilt. It was Williams’ fourth career interception and his first career score. It was also the first interception return for a Gamecock since D.J. Swearinger had a “pick six” against Arkansas on November 10, 2012.

BLOCK THAT KICK: J.T. Surratt was credited with a blocked field goal attempt in the win over Vanderbilt. It was the Gamecocks’ second blocked field goal attempt this season. Gerald Dixon Jr. had one in the win against East Carolina.

LONG DRIVE CONTEST: The Gamecocks have put together 24 scoring drives this season, culminating in 17 touchdowns and seven field goals. Thirteen of the 24 drives have been 75 yards or longer. Only three scoring drives have started on the opponents’ half of the field.

FIRST START: Six Gamecocks have made their first career starts this season. Three players, all on defense, made their first career start in the season opener against Texas A&M. Getting the nod for the first time were linebackers Jonathan Walton and Bryson Allen-Williams and cornerback Al Harris Jr. Center Alan Knott and safety Chris Moody both made their first start against East Carolina. Defensive end Mason Harris got the call for the first time at Vanderbilt.

STEPPING UP: Fifth-year senior Dylan Thompson is the starting signal-caller for the Gamecocks in 2014. Thompson has waited patiently for his turn behind Connor Shaw, the winningest quarterback in school history. The 6-3, 218-pounder from Boiling Springs, who proposed marriage to his girlfriend at midfield in August, is 6-1 as a starter in his career. He has thrown for over 300 yards in three of his seven career starts, and has thrown at least three touchdowns in five of those starts. He also threw the game-winning touchdown in the final seconds of the 2013 Outback Bowl win over Michigan. In the 2104 season opener against Texas A&M, Thompson connected on 20-of-40 passes for a career-high 366 yards, the ninth-highest single-game mark in school history, and a career-high four touchdowns. He was more efficient against East Carolina, connecting on 25-of-38 for 266 yards. He was 21-for-30 with three TDs against Georgia. He was 22-for-34 for 237 yards with three more scores at Vanderbilt. After four weeks, he ranks fourth in the SEC averaging 285.0 yards passing per game and is sixth with 285.5 yards of total offense per game. He has thrown 11 touchdowns and three interceptions while completing 62.0 percent of his passes. For his career, he has completed 57.8 percent of his passes (fifth in school history) for 2,967 yards with 25 touchdowns and eight INTs. He needs just 23 passing yards to become the 13th player in South Carolina history to throw for 3,000 yards in a career.

A SPECIAL FRIENDSHIP: Fifth-year seniors quarterback Dylan Thompson and offensive guard A.J. Cann have developed a special bond. Not only are they great friends and roommates, but they also spent a week over the summer together in Israel, where they were able to teach some of the locals about football. The once in a lifetime experience was one they will both remember forever.

BE LIKE MIKE: Junior tailback Mike Davis has earned preseason All-America recognition. The 5-9, 223-pounder from Atlanta, Ga., logged the fourth-most single-season rushing yards in school history last season when he rambled for 1,183 yards with 11 touchdowns. His best game this season was an 18-carry, 101-yard, 2 TD effort against East Carolina. He had 17 carries for 82 yards last week at Vandy. For the season, he has rushed 58 times for 264 yards. In his third season at Carolina, he ranks 22nd in school history with 1,722 rushing yards and owns eight 100-yard rushing games. Davis is the younger brother of former Clemson standout James Davis.

GO THE DISTANCE: Mike Davis logged four rushes of 50 yards or more in his first two seasons. He had a 50-yarder against UAB in 2012. His 75-yard burst against North Carolina in the 2013 season opener and his first career start was the longest by a Gamecock since Bobby Wallace went for 88 against Middle Tennessee in 2006. He matched that with another 75-yard sprint at Georgia. Of the 14 runs in school history of 75 yards or longer, Davis is the only one to do it twice. His fourth-career 50-yard jaunt came at UCF, a 53-yard TD run. Only Derek Watson has more runs of 50-plus yards at Carolina.

AGAIN AND AGAIN: Only 11 players in South Carolina history have eight or more games of 100-yard rushing in their career. That list now includes Mike Davis:

Player 100 Yd Games
George Rogers 27
Brandon Bennett 11
Harold Green 11
Marcus Lattimore 11
Steve Wadiak 10
Duce Staley 9
Derek Watson 9
Thomas Dendy 8
Jay Lynn Hodgin 8
Clarence Williams 8
Mike Davis 8

RUNNING WILDS: Although Mike Davis has received the lion’s share of the publicity, he is not the only capable runner in the Gamecock backfield. Junior Brandon Wilds (6-2, 230) has been very effective. After four games, he has logged 210 yards on 40 attempts, an average of 5.25 yards per carry. For his career, he has 917 yards and seven touchdowns on 190 rushes. As a true freshman in 2011, he started the year as the fifth-team tailback, but as injuries mounted, he climbed the depth chart and posted three 100-yard rushing games, including a career-high 137 against Tennessee. He had a 2014 season-high 93 yards rushing in the win over Georgia. Wilds suffered a sprained shoulder in the win at Vanderbilt and his status is uncertain for the Missouri contest.

NOTHING CATCHY ABOUT THIS: The Gamecocks feature four wide receivers that receive the bulk of the action:

Junior Shaq Roland (6-1, 176), a former “Mr. Football” in the state of South Carolina (following in the footsteps of Stephon Gilmore, Marcus Lattimore and Jadeveon Clowney), is the most gifted of the receiving corps. He came on strong at the end of his sophomore season, posting a career-high 112 receiving yards on six catches in the 2014 Capital One Bowl win over Wisconsin. He had a career-high seven catches for 94 yards against East Carolina. He is third on the squad with 14 catches for 176 yards and two scores.

SSenior Nick “Governor Nicky” Jones (5-7, 168), has been consistent and sometimes overlooked throughout his Carolina career. He just has a knack for getting open and catching the ball. He logged the first 100-yard receiving game of his career against Texas A&M, catching five passes for a career-best 113 yards and two touchdowns, including a 69-yard TD reception. He is second on the squad with 17 catches but leads the team with 259 receiving yards with three touchdowns.

Senior Damiere Byrd (5-9, 170) is the fastest Gamecock and one of the fastest players in the SEC. He has eight career receptions of 40 yards or more, including a 46-yard TD catch against Texas A&M, is a two-time CoSIDA Academic All-District selection and was a captain on the Gamecocks’ track & field squad. He has had just three catches this year, but two have gone for touchdowns and he averages 33.0 yards per catch.

Sophomore Pharoh Cooper (5-11, 201) was an All-SEC Freshman selection last season as both an all-purpose back and return specialist. He is the Gamecocks’ top pass catcher through four games with 21 receptions (5.2/game, 7th in the SEC). He had three catches in the season opener against Texas A&M, matching his career total, and topped that with five receptions against ECU. He had a breakout game at Vanderbilt, catching 10 passes for 114 yards, both career highs. He has also seen some action at the “Wildcat” position, rushing seven times for 89 yards, an average of 12.7 yards per carry.

STELLAR TIGHT ENDS: The Gamecocks are blessed with a pair of standout tight ends. Senior Rory “Busta” Anderson (6-5, 227) is an All-SEC candidate. Anderson has averaged 17.1 yards per catch with nine touchdowns in his career. He suffered a torn triceps muscle late in spring drills but worked his way back and caught three passes for 52 yards in the opener against Texas A&M. He had a big day against Georgia with five catches for 67 yards and a score. Junior Jerell Adams (6-6, 242) has averaged 16.6 yards per catch and had three scores in his first two campaigns. He had two catches for 40 yards against A&M. Senior Cody Gibson (6-7, 278) made the conversion to tight end this fall after spending his career at tackle.

THREE OF THE BEST: The Gamecocks feature what many believe may be the best offensive line in school history, led by three veterans. Senior left guard A.J. Cann (6-4, 311) is the anchor. He has made 42 career starts, the most on the squad, and has been named to five preseason first-team All-America squads. Senior left tackle Corey Robinson (6-8, 344) has made 26 starts and was a second-team preseason All-SEC pick by both the media and coaches. He was the SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week for his performance against Georgia. Redshirt junior right tackle Brandon Shell (6-6, 333) has made 27 career starts and was a preseason third-team All-SEC selection by the league’s 14 coaches.

CANN DO: Senior left guard A.J. Cann made his 42nd career start at Vanderbilt. He is one of only 11 players in school history to make 40 or more starts for the Garnet & Black.

No. Player Starts
1. T.J. Johnson (2009-12) 53
2. Cliff Matthews (2007-10) 47
3. Travelle Wharton (2000-03) 45
Ladi Ajiboye (2007-10) 45
Devin Taylor (2009-12) 45
6. Todd Ellis (1986-89) 43
7. A.J. Cann (2011-14) 42

LIFE WITHOUT CLOWNEY: Senior defensive tackle J.T. Surratt (6-2, 310) is the leader of the defensive line. He is the only returning starter along the front four, as Carolina replaced Jadeveon Clowney, Kelcy Quarles and Chaz Sutton, the first two of whom earned All-America honors. Surratt, Gerald Dixon and Kaiwan Lewis are the Gamecocks’ active leaders in career sack with 2.0.

THE SKAI’S THE LIMIT: The best linebacker in the SEC that no one has heard about may be sophomore Skai Moore. The 6-2, 213-pounder from Cooper City, Fla. led the Gamecocks in both tackles (56) and interceptions (4) as a true freshman in 2013, despite starting just four games. He logged six tackles, all solo stops, in the season opener against Texas A&M, including the Gamecocks’ lone sack, and has led the team in tackles in two of the last three games with seven stops against East Carolina and a career-best 10 vs. Georgia. He had five tackles at Vanderbilt. He is tied for ninth in the SEC, averaging 7.0 tackles per game.

LEADER IN THE SECONDARY: Senior Brison Williams is the unquestioned leader in the secondary. The 5-11, 208-pound senior from Warner Robins, Ga., has played both safety positions during his Gamecock career, and has spent the bulk of the 2014 season at cornerback. He has started 28 times in his career. He is fourth on the team with 15 tackles, including 14 solo stops. He turned the Vandy game with his 53-yard interception return for a touchdown.

THE FRISCO KID: Elliott Fry walked on to the Gamecock squad last summer and earned the starting placekicking chores. The Frisco, Texas product went 15-for-18 in field goal attempts and was successful on 54-of-55 extra point attempts for a team-leading 99 points, earning Freshman All-SEC accolades. His 99 points were the fourth-highest single-season total in school history. He missed his only field goal attempt in the opener against A&M, but that came from 54 yards out and hasn’t missed since. He rebounded against East Carolina, going 4-for-4 in field goals, matching his career-best performance, and accounting for 15 points while earning SEC Special Teams Player of the Week honors. He hit again from 32-yards out against Georgia, and was 2-for-2 at Vanderbilt, giving him a streak of seven in a row. He is eighth in the SEC in points scored by kicking, averaging 9.8 points per game.

HULL OF A PUNTER: Senior Tyler Hull handles the punting chores for Carolina for a third-straight season. He averaged 39.4 yards as a sophomore and 37.8 yards as a junior. He is off to a better start this season, punting 10 times for a 43.1-yard average, which ranks sixth in the SEC.

UP NEXT: South Carolina will head back out on the road next week, traveling to Lexington, Ky. to face the Kentucky Wildcats in another SEC Eastern Division matchup. The Gamecocks lead the all-time series with Kentucky by a 17-7-1 count, and have won three-straight and 13 of the last 14 meetings between the two schools on the gridiron. Caroline is 9-4 all-time at Commonwealth Stadium. Last season, the Gamecocks won by a 35-28 count in Columbia. Head coach Steve Spurrier is 20-1 all-time against the Wildcats, with Kentucky’s lone win coming by a 31-28 score in Lexington in 2010..