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Missouri vs. South Carolina final score: 3 things we learned from Tigers' late 21-20 win

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This was not a fun football game.

Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

It was ugly. It was really ugly, actually, but Missouri will take their 21-20 escape win over South Carolina. The Tigers and Gamecocks were both out of sorts all night, turning in disjointed performances that nobody can really leave feeling entirely good about.

Missouri started the game fast, going up 7-0 less than three minutes into the game, but that would be it for their offense until the fourth quarter. Neither offense did much of anything on the whole, as the defenses held their respective counterparts in check. South Carolina's specifically, put the game in a choke hold, allowing the offense to slowly but surely put up 20 straight points to lead 20-7, capping things off with this outstanding catch by Pharoh Cooper to make it a two score game.

coop

GIF credit: ESPN

Missouri sprang to life in the fourth quarter though, reeling off two touchdowns in the final seven minutes, including a nervy one yard touchdown run on fourth down by Russell Hansbrough, his third of the night, to take a 21-20 lead with 1:36 remaining. The Gamecocks weren't able to do anything with the ball on their final possession, and the Tigers can escape out of enemy territory tonight with a win they absolutely stole.

Three things we learned

1. How on earth did Missouri manage 21 points? The Gamecock defense put in a great shift on Saturday night, holding Missouri down until late. They certainly performed well enough to win, but the offense dropped the ball on that. They harried Maty Mauk all night and forced him into a particularly grotesque stat line (12-34 for 132 yards), but it all came apart late.

2. South Carolina's offense has some explaining to do. Mike Davis broke the 100 yard mark for the second time so far in 2014, but outside of that, the Gamecock offense sputtered all night and wasted a fine effort from the defense. Their stat line isn't that horrible at first glance, but they consistently stalled before they could get into dangerous positions. Regardless of how it happened, the South Carolina offense put the team at a significant disadvantage in the SEC East race tonight.

3. The SEC East is as clear as mud. Speaking of which, the SEC East race is hilarious. Every team has at least one conference loss already except for Missouri, and they are incredibly unlikely to make it through the year unscathed. South Carolina already has two conference losses, but it's probably still too early to write them off yet, too. What a mess.