South Carolina's 2OT win over Missouri has energized the fanbase and been the talk of college football. In fact coverage of last week's win has dwarfed talk of this week's opponent. That may prove to be a mistake. Not to go all Debbie Downer on you, but here are reasons for concern or pessimism and reasons South Carolina could lose to Mississippi State.
It's a let down game
Let down games occur after big wins, and they come after emotional games. Last week's game was both for South Carolina. After pouring so much energy into that game and then to be told how great you are all week, South Carolina may have trouble focusing on this week's team and making sure they prepare as much for the western Bulldogs as any opponent.
The Missouri win was the biggest in a few years for the program. Everybody is talking about where it ranks among the important or great Gamecock wins. Inevitably the 2010 win over Alabama is referenced. That was a big win, mostly for different reasons. However, after that big win, there was a loss to a clearly inferior Kentucky team. Hopefully the latest big win won't be marred by another let down.
This isn't a reason to be pessimistic until you think about the way Mississippi State's offense is supposed to run. Dan Mullen's version of the spread offense is designed to stress the linebackers and put them in difficult positions. Missed tackles lead to big gains as do missed alignments. The linebackers are clearly improving, and they are talented, but mistakes could be costly against an offense of this type.
Connor Shaw was sick the first part of the week, and who knows how his knee responded to the pounding it took on Saturday night. Shon Carson is the only running back who is 100% healthy. The offensive and defensive lines have walking wounded, especially Quarles and Patrick. Who know how hurt or healthy these guys will be on Saturday, but if Shaw, Davis, Quarles or Patrick are limited or very hurt, that's a big blow to the team.
It's a noon-ish (12:21) game. Anecdotaly those games favor road underdogs. The theory is that the home team's crowd isn't as into it as they would be for a night game, and the atmosphere isn't as rowdy or intimidating. I'm not sure the evidence is as cut and dry regarding road dogs and kickoff times, but if Carolina slips up, this will certainly be an aggravating factor in the post-mortem.
The great equalizer. Special teams are playing better lately, but is that true improvement or an aberration. If its not improvement, watch out for the old bug-a-boos to bite again. Turnovers on special teams would costs points, and they could cost the game.
Feeling great about Mississippi State? Don't worry. Check back tomorrow, and we'll have the view from the Half Full side of things.