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Gators Lose Another Player, #5 Missouri vs. # 21 South Carolina

This season, many NCAA teams have been hit by the injury bug but one that has been hit worse than others is Florida (4-3, 3-2).

On Wednesday, the team announced it has lost backup linebacker Jeremi Powell for the rest of the season. In last weekend’s 36-17 loss against Missouri (7-0, 3-0), he tore his left ACL. Powell has mostly been playing on special teams this season and the ACL injury came as he attempted to block a punt.

Will Muschamp

Will Muschamp

His coach Will Muschamp said of the latest player to go down via NBC Sports, “Unfortunate for him. He’s a guy who was really emerging special teams-wise.”

Really, what is Muschamp going to say at this point in the season?  He’s already seen on his offense, quarterback Jeff Driskel, right tackle Chaz Green, running back Matt Jones, wide receiver and kick returner Andre Debosed go down as well as defensive tackle Dominique Easley, linebacker Matt Rolin and defensive back Nick Washington also hit the sidelines.

Fortunately for the Gators, it’s their bye week after losing two in a row. When they return, they’ll play Georgia (4-3, 3-2).

They entered the season with expectations and now sit outside the BCS national championship conversation. Its conference brethren still have hope: Alabama (17/10), LSU (14/1) and Texas A&M (25/1).

#5 Missouri vs. #21 South Carolina

For the Top 25 and the SEC, one of the more interesting games this week is Missouri vs. South Carolina (5-2, 3-2). It will include a battle of the backup quarterbacks.

The Tigers (7-0, 3-0) entered their sophomore SEC season predicted to finish No. 6 in the league. So much for low expectations as they are undefeated with a No. 5 BCS ranking and a two-game advantage in the division.

One of the keys to their success has come from healthy players but recently they have also incurred injuries as quarterback James Franklin and cornerback E.J. Gaines went down in the Oct. 12 41-26 win against Georgia. But this didn’t deter their win streak as they defeated Florida last week, 36-17.

The team’s offense has been a key strength under new offensive coordinator Josh Henson. The team is scoring 44.3 points per game. This has come from 279 yards per game in the air and 234.4 ground yards.

Maty Mauck

Maty Mauck

Without Franklin (separated shoulder), backup quarterback Maty Mauk oversaw eight scoring drives and cornerback Aarion Penton grabbed his first interception in the Florida game.

Look for Mauk to again take over as signal caller this week.

On the defensive side, Missouri has limited its opponents to 22.1 points and 381 yards per game (116.6 rushing yards). The Tigers sit at the top of the conference with 23 sacks, and with his nine sacks, defensive end Michael Sam is tied for the top spot nationally.

For South Carolina, they’ll enter the game hungry for a win after losing to Tennessee (4-3, 1-2) last weekend.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier downplayed the game and said via the Associated Press, “We’re not going to get much attention this week. Like I told the team, we’re on TV but the nation wants to watch Missouri. They don’t want to watch us now after losing a game. Maybe we can go out there and show them something, hopefully, so that’s what we’ll try to do.”

Spurrier added that should the team lose, hopes for a run at the conference title will be gone.

Similar to the Tigers, they’ll have a backup quarterback under center on Saturday with Dylan Thompson as starting quarterback Connor Shaw injured his knee last Saturday. He could be out for a few weeks.

Fortunately Thompson has experience pinch hitting for Shaw. Last season, he led the team to a 27-17 win over Clemson and in the Outback Bowl, where they defeated Michigan 33-28 with a late fourth quarter touchdown.

Should Missouri win their next two games, they’ll clinch their berth for the Dec. 7 conference championship game. They’ll win this first one on Saturday (-3, 52.5 o/u).


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