TIGERS REPORT: Missouri hits the road to play No. 7 South Carolina

Friday, September 21, 2012 | 1:03 p.m. CDT; updated 2:27 p.m. CDT, Friday, September 21, 2012

COLUMBIA — Missouri plays its first road game of the season, and its first-ever road game in the SEC on Saturday.

Missouri's opponent, No. 7 South Carolina, is the second top-10 team the Tigers will play in a three-week span. The now-No. 5 Georgia beat Missouri 41-20 on Sept. 8.

South Carolina and Georgia, which compete in the SEC East division and have each won a division title in the past two years, were widely considered the pre-season favorites to win the division this season. Both teams are 3-0 so far this season, as is Florida, which has already won two SEC road games.

Missouri is already a step behind those three for the SEC East title, but would make a big move in the standings with a win Saturday.

Quarterback woes for Tigers and Gamecocks

James Franklin greets fans at Tiger Walk before last week's Arizona State game. (Photo: Marysa Greenawalt/Missourian)

Missouri quarterback James Franklin sat out of last week's win against Arizona State with shoulder soreness, but has dealt with fewer injury problems than South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw.

Shaw was knocked out of the Gamecocks' first game against Vanderbilt with a hairline fracture in his throwing shoulder. He sat out the team's second game against East Carolina, then started last week against the University of Alabama at Birmingham only to be knocked out of that game after re-aggravating the injury.

Nevertheless, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said earlier this week that Shaw will start for the Gamecocks on Saturday.

Franklin is also expected to start Saturday. Franklin, according to reports, made the decision to sit out of last week's game rather than taking a painkiller and attempting to play.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel told reporters after the game that, “It was just too painful for him, and he didn’t want to play. (I) was hoping James could play, but he didn’t feel like he could do it.”

Blair Kerkhoff of The Kansas City Star stirred the pot a bit earlier in the week by writing that Pinkel was suggesting that Franklin lacks toughness.

But Pinkel responded later in the week, "Anybody that questions James Franklin's toughness, they have to have been in a coma the last two years." Franklin dealt with injuries during games against Arizona State and Baylor last season.

Upset of the week?

Every week, ESPN's Mark Schlabach makes an "upset pick of the week," and his selection this week is Missouri to beat South Carolina. This bodes well for the Tigers, as Schlabach is 3-for-3 in his upset picks so far this season.

Other football analysts are less optimistic about Missouri's chances. South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore is off to a strong start, and has been mentioned as a Heisman Trophy candidate. Last week, Lattimore scored his 33rd career touchdown, breaking the Gamecocks' school touchdown record.

The Gamecocks' defense is also off to a very good start. The defense is allowing 10 points per game and hasn't given up a touchdown in the red zone.

Supervising editor is Frank Russell.

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