It's Homecoming, and your Missouri Tigers are ranked fifth overall in the BCS. If that's not motivation enough to get outlandishly excited about this game then you're doing it wrong. We've spent a great deal of time this week discussing how awesome this season has been and all of the possible ways it could end, but now it's time to focus in on South Carolina. Coming to Columbia on Saturday will be one of the best running backs in the SEC, one of the best defensive players this decade, and one of the biggest trolls college football has had the pleasure of knowing. We'll take one last look at how the masterpiece of a game we played against Florida worked out with last week's formula, and then set our sights on the Gamecocks.
r(c+d) > r(q-dB)
Distance (d) - Mizzou gashed the vaunted Florida defense, running for 205 yards at 5.5 yards per clip. Henry Josey in particular had a fantastic day with 136 yards on the ground. You go, guy.
Completions (c) - Maty Mauk exceeded everyone's expectations while completing 18 of his 36 passes. He did throw one interception though, so the final tally for this variable falls to 13.
Remainders (r) - Neither team was able to take a turnover to the house. Florida came the closest by returning the opening kickoff of the second half, but that didn't make the cut.
Tyler Murphy (q) - The Missouri defense absolutely stuffed every aspect of Florida's offense. Murphy was only able to muster 92 passing yards, and, thanks in large part to Michael Sam and his three sacks, he rushed for a whopping -45 yards. 47 total yards does not a solid game make.
Decibels (dB) - Faurot was rocking, as was evident by this fantastic GIF:
Awesome. I'll set the decibel rating at a sweet 95.
With all of our variables defined, here's what the equation looks like:
13+205 > 47-95
-- chomp chomp --
218 > -48
NEGATIVE NUMBERS! As Bill C. has already discussed, we dominated Florida. We utterly, thoroughly, completely demolished them. Man, that was fun to watch.
As fun as it has been to reminisce about last week, we have to push forward. The Gamecocks are good, and they're the healthiest team we've played in two weeks (FARRRRRRTTTTTTT). Also, Steve Spurrier would love nothing more than to roll into Faurot and crush our souls after the national media spent the week talking about how the SEC East runs through the real Columbia. It's going to take another solid game for the Tigers to avoid the upset this Saturday. Man, it felt weird typing that last sentence. Anyway, on the Points Scored side of the equation Mizzou needs to capitalize on Opacity, Swings, and Air Temperature.
Yeah, yeah, this is probably the easiest factor I can highlight, but that's because it's the most important. If Missouri wants to have any shot at running the offense like they have been, they have to minimize the impact of one Jadeveon Clowney. Even though our offensive line has played very very well so far this year, they haven't faced anyone quite like Clowney. Justin Britt will most likely be saddled with Clowney-control responsibilities most of the day, so it will be on him to keep Mauk's jersey clean. A solid rating here also means that our running backs have holes to utilize, which will be huge for our balanced offense. As always, Opacity will be a score out of 100.
This throwback goes all the way back to my Arkansas State Anthrascience. A quick refresher, swings are big, momentum-shifting plays that can change the landscape of a game. This is our third biggest game of the year of the century in a row, it's Homecoming, and Memorial Stadium will be rocking. Three or four of these babies and Spurrier won't be able to hear his assistants through his headset. Because Swings are such a big deal, we'll represent them as a multiplier.
Air Temperature (h)
It's Mauktoberfest, let us rejoice. Mizzou's backup QB passed his first test with flying colors, and the Tigers are going to need to him be just as good against the Gamecocks. He doesn't need to throw for 400 yards, but our passing attack cannot afford to go cold. The one-two punch of Dorial Green-Beckham and L'Damian Washington should theoretically be too much for South Carolina's DBs to handle, and Mauk has to take advantage of this fact if he wants to stay unbeaten as a starter. If he can heat up the cold night air, our chances of winning skyrocket.
Now that we have the PS side of the formula defined, let's check out what it looks like:
s(Ω+h) > PA
Never count out an offense commanded by the Old Ball Coach. It's possible to stop him, but very difficult. If Mizzou's defense wants to slow South Carolina down, they'll need to make sure they take minimize the Gamecocks' Distance, Swings, and Area.
This is the first time this variable has reared it's head on the PA side of the equation, and it's for good reason. That little bowling ball of a running back they call Mike Davis scares the crap out of me. He leads the SEC in rushing with 879 yards on 132 attempts, good for 6.7 ypc. Fortunately, he has to go up against the second best rushing defense in the conference. Our defensive line has been getting most of the press coverage, but this is Andrew Wilson's defense and he needs to continue to play like a grown-ass man if we want to contain Davis. The Wilson/Davis matchup is probably the most important one of the game, and if we don't win it we'll have a deep hole to climb out of.
Swings work both ways, it's sort of the nature of the word. If South Carolina can match us big play for big play, we won't be able to pull away from them. Gamecock swings will also help them take the Missouri crowd out of the game, which we can't afford. Again, these are of the utmost importance and will be represented as a multiplier.
As good as Connor Shaw is, Dylan Thompson is a better passer. With Thompson in the game, South Carolina's deep passing game gets a significant boost. Our secondary remains the weak-spot of our defense, so in order to corral the Gamecock air attack our defensive line will need to give Thompson little room to move around. The thing about long pass plays is that they take a while to develop, meaning Michael Sam and company should have plenty of time to wreak havoc in the backfield. In order to keep the numbers balanced, we'll represent this variable as a score out of 100.
With everything defined, our completed formula looks like this:
s(Ω+h) > s(d+A)
In the words of the great Han Solo, I have a bad feeling about this. Missouri isn't the underdog anymore, and we've been a media darling all week. I do have confidence in this team's ability to ignore the narratives placed on them, they've been doing a fine job of that all season, but what worries me is Spurrier. I can just see him smirking amidst the debris of Memorial Stadium, basking in the glow of a ruined Homecoming. Fortunately for the Tigers, I've been worried for three weeks now. Maybe if I stay worried we'll just keep winning!
I'm going to go knock on all the wood in a 20 mile radius now.