Roles Reversed From South Carolina and Mizzou’s First Meeting

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By: Aaron Tallent


Saturday’s match-up between South Carolina and Missouri is a street fight for the SEC East. Barring an epic late-season meltdown, a win Saturday will mean a trip to Atlanta for 7-0 Mizzou. Meanwhile, South Carolina began the season as a favorite to win the East, but now has to beat the division’s most formidable opponent to still have a shot. 


This is the fourth meeting between the two schools and a role reversal from their first meeting, the 1979 Hall of Fame Bowl (now the Outback Bowl). South Carolina began the season unranked, but hit a groove with a powerful offense led by junior running back George Rogers, who finished second in the country in rushing, averaging 5.4 yards a carry. The Gamecocks upset Georgia early and then beat 13th-ranked Clemson en route to its first 8-win season since 1903.

Mizzou, the favorite to win the Big 8, was 3-0 and ranked 5th going into a showdown with Texas. The Longhorns beat the Tigers 21-0 and Mizzou proceeded to lose 4 of its next 6 games. The Tigers closed the season with a 55-7 throttling of Kansas and became the first 6-5 team in Big 8 history to go to a bowl game.

While South Carolina was excited to go to Birmingham, Ala. (the game was moved to Tampa, Fla., in 1986), Mizzou was not. Players even discussed boycotting the game because Mizzou would only bring 84 players from its 117-man roster. Since the university had not allotted enough money to cover all expenses, the Mizzou Band did vote to not travel or perform at the game and asked that its funds be allocated to cover the team’s expenses. This was not possible because accommodations had already been booked.

“This is not where we wanted to be,” said Tiger quarterback Phil Bradley. “But a win here would be a moral victory and would give us something to look forward to next year.”

The forecast for the December 29 game warned of a slight chance of rain. It poured. South Carolina scored on its first drive but missed the extra point. The Tigers then kicked a field goal and capitalized on a fumble and a short punt to take a 17-6 halftime lead. By then, the crowd of 62,785 had dealt South Carolina quarterback Garry Harper a huge blow.

“We wanted to use the no-huddle offense more, but Garry’s voice was gone at half-time from hollering signals above the crowd noise,” said Gamecock coach Jim Carlen.

South Carolina cut the lead to 17-14, Mizzou responded with a short touchdown drive off an interception. The final score was 24-14 Mizzou, with its longest touchdown drive being 30 yards.

Both programs have become much stronger in the past 34 years, but the story is similar. One is on the verge of its greatest season ever. The other is on the ropes. This time both bands will be there, but there is a 10 percent chance of rain. Of course, turnovers will always be key.

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.