USC will have to win one of its final two games at home to go bowling in Shane Beamer’s first season as head coach. Coming off last week’s win over Florida, the Gamecocks were slight favorites to get that sixth win at Missouri Saturday, but a stale third quarter offset a spirited fourth quarter rally and the Gamecocks fell short of bringing the Mayor’s Cup back to Columbia East 31-28 with their third straight loss to the Tigers.
The Gamecocks drop to 5-5 overall and 2-5 in the SEC. They will finish out the regular season the next two weekends at Williams-Brice Stadium against Auburn and Clemson and will be underdogs in both games.
The Gamecocks looked left for dead early in the fourth quarter. They mustered just five yards in the third quarter and a fumble in the end zone by Jason Brown was recovered by Missouri defensive end Trajan Jeffcoat (from Irmo) for a touchdown. That put the Tigers up 24-14, and they padded the lead early in the fourth quarter on a 19-yard run by Tyler Badie.
The Gamecocks did make it interesting with Brown connecting with ZaQuandre White for a 38-yard score with 6:56 to play. After Brad Johnson intercepted Connor Bazelak on Missouri’s next possession at the Tigers’ 14, USC went in for another score, a three-yard run by White. With over five minutes to play, USC trailed 31-28.
The Gamecocks kicked off to Missouri and never got the ball back. Their defense was fed a steady diet of Badie. He carried six times for 62 yards as the Tigers ate up the clock and the USC timeouts. Missouri ended up taking a knee at the Gamecocks’ 20 to end the game.
Badie rushed 34 times for 209 yards, the fourth time this season he has eclipsed 200 yards in a game. Missouri’s defense, which came into the game ranked next to last in the country at 270 yards per game, held USC’s three running backs to 104 yards on 30 carries.