Say hello to your new SEC East overlords ... the Missouri Tigers? Missouri has a solid grip on first place in the division, but that could easily begin to change with its game against South Carolina on Saturday night. The Tigers have persevered without injured starting quarterback James Franklin, who is expected to be out until November, but will they be able to avoid a misstep while he's gone?
If the Gamecocks hadn't lost to Tennessee last weekend, we'd be talking about a showdown with first place on the line. Instead, South Carolina is fighting to stay in contention.
Rankings and records: Missouri is 7-0 (3-0), ranked fifth in the AP Poll, seventh in the Coaches' Poll and fifth in the BCS standings. South Carolina comes in at 5-2 (3-2) and ranked 20th in both major polls. The Gamecocks are also No. 21 in the BCS standings. The Tigers are 2-1 all-time against South Carolina.
Vegas: Missouri opened as a 2.5-point favorite.
Weather: The high is expected to reach 54, and there is no rain in the forecast.
Three names to know
Maty Mauk -- So far so good for Mauk, who is tasked with holding down the fort until Franklin is healthy. His performance against Florida last week wasn't spectacular, but it was good enough to propel the Tigers to a victory.
Jadeveon Clowney -- Against Tennessee, Clowney looked much closer to the monster everyone thought he'd be prior to the season. He finished that game with a season-high 2.5 tackles for loss, and five tackles overall. If he causes that sort of trouble again this week, the Gamecocks can force Missouri's offense into some mistakes.
Dylan Thompson -- The Gamecocks are without their starting quarterback as well, and have been forced to make it Thompson's job at a crucial point in the season. Thompson has appeared in six games this year, and he is averaging a solid 8.3 yards per attempt. He also helped South Carolina escape a tough game at UCF in September.
Two things at stake
South Carolina cannot afford to lose this game if it is going to entertain any hopes of pulling off a division title. The odds may not be good in any case, especially considering that the Gamecocks have dropped a game to Georgia, but they would effectively be toast with a loss here. A victory would also make South Carolina bowl eligible.
As one of two undefeated SEC teams, Missouri is not only playing for a shot at a league title, it's playing for a potential national title berth. The Tigers will need some help in order to get there, though, and they certainly will need more quality wins to bolster their resume, beginning with South Carolina.
How to witness
TV: ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET