South Carolina beat Missouri on Saturday in Columbia, 37-35. The game was dramatic, but it’ll primarily be remembered for being weird. The events leading up to the Gamecocks’ last-minute winning field goal offered a big enough serving of weirdness to last a whole year.
For starters, Missouri inexplicably attempted what looked like an onside kick after it scored to take a 7-0 lead early.
The kick didn’t travel the necessary 10 yards for Mizzou to recover it without a Gamecock muffing it first, and South Carolina scored three plays later to tie the game. But apparently, Tigers head coach Barry Odom never called an onside kick:
“That was not — he mis-hit the ball,” Barry Odom told SEC Network reporter Kris Budden. “I know it looked like an onside. We were trying to bloop it down to the right side, mishit it and, obviously, bad situation.”
At halftime, torrential rain moved through Columbia. And then things got really weird.
The rain caused the scoreboard and headsets to not work. For a while, ESPN didn’t even have a clock in the score graphic at the bottom of the screen. And due to ESPN weather policy, certain camera operators had to step away, meaning stationary views from far on high during plays, like this:
In the third quarter, Missouri’s Drew Lock threw a pick six to give South Carolina a lead. It wasn’t just any pick six.
He evidently couldn’t see that his receiver on a screen pass had fallen down. You can’t really blame him, though, because look how heavy this rain was coming down:
The field was all sorts of sloppy after the rain, too:
The game featured a suplex tackle by Mizzou, because sure.
The conditions also created special teams play even stranger than an accidental on-side kick.
- After Damarea Crockett’s 70-yard touchdown run* was called back because the replay official zoomed in to the pixels to determine he had stepped out of bounds at the 11, and after the Tigers committed three penalties to knock them out of field goal range, Mizzou punter Corey Fatony plain dropped a punt snap, and South Carolina recovered it near midfield. That set up a go-ahead field goal for the Gamecocks.
- After the above pick six put the Gamecocks up 31-23, Mizzou drove to the SC 2. But after a sloppy snap resulted in lost yardage, the Tigers had to settle for a 25-yard Tucker McCann field goal attempt. He missed it wide right, though you could hardly see the ball on television.
- On the second play of the fourth quarter, South Carolina began its own series of gaffes. Joseph Charlton’s punt was blocked by MU’s Tre Williams, setting up a Tiger touchdown.
- South Carolina got the ball back and went three-and-out, and Charlton mishandled a punt snap of his own. He tried to run for the first down and came up eight yards short.
- After Lock’s second interception of the second half — Jamyest Williams plucked the ball off of the belly of Mizzou’s Kam Scott while both were on the ground (it looked like Williams’ foot might have been out of bounds when he secured the ball, but replay review upheld the call) — South Carolina elected to attempt a fake field goal instead of asking Parker White to attempt a 51-yarder. Mizzou stopped it short.
* Even weirder: ESPN’s scoreboard originally gave that touchdown to South Carolina.
Two teams had touchdowns called back on the same play.
Then came the lightning. The game was delayed with Mizzou driving and 2:41 remaining. The delay lasted well more than an hour.
South Carolina’s stadium was leaking, with water pouring out of Steve Spurrier’s name on the ring of honor.
Mizzou’s mascot, Truman the Tiger, was not impressed.
Carolina was without its starting QB, and Mizzou was without multiple wide receivers.
And the game still went over the Vegas scoring total anyway, despite the rain and the delay.
After all that ...
...a game addled by special teams miscues ended the only way possible: with McCann making a FIFTY-SEVEN YARDER to give Missouri the lead ... and with White giving Carolina the win with a 33-yarder with two seconds left. Of course. And that wasn’t even all:
The whole thing was so strange, the Gamecocks got the win and tumbled in S&P+ ratings the day after.
South Carolina just did a very Will Muschamp thing, beating a top-30 team in Missouri ... and falling 17 spots. How?
Games aren’t played on paper, which is a good thing for the Gamecocks because on paper, they lost on Saturday. They beat Missouri 37-35 despite the following stats:
Total yards: Mizzou 490, South Carolina 377
Yards per play: Mizzou 6.0, South Carolina 4.6
Success rate: Mizzou 43.9%, South Carolina 30.5%
Scoring opportunities: Mizzou 9, South Carolina 7
Field position: Mizzou 33.7, South Carolina 33.5
My post-game win expectancy measure — in which all the key stats (the ones that almost always decide games) are tossed into the air and produce a “You could have expected to win this game X percent of the time” number — gave South Carolina a four percent chance of winning. Average scoring margin for a game like this: Mizzou by 17. But this thing got really, really strange when a storm blew through Columbia, S.C., and the Gamecocks navigated the rain well enough to break math.
Being that S&P+ is a predictive measure, however, it looks at a game like this and says, “Yeah, that was a fluke,” and adjusts accordingly. The Gamecocks were without their starting quarterback, Jake Browning, so you could say this is too drastic a course correction. But S&P+ isn’t designed to take injuries into account, and Mizzou was without two-thirds of its starting receivers and, at times, one to two starting offensive linemen, too, so it’s probably not too drastic.
This is not the first time a Will Muschamp team has broken math, by the way. Hell, it’s not the first time he’s broken math against Missouri.