Earlier this week, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said there would be no trophy going to the winner of what's being dubbed the "Battle of the Columbias" – Saturday's matchup between the Columbia, South Carolina Gamecocks and the Columbia, Missouri Tigers.
That's right. No trophy, even though the idea had Spurrier's approval since the Tigers entered the conference earlier this year.
Instead of exchanging a funny trophy like Paul Bunyan's Axe or the Little Brown Jug or maybe something creative like a plate of golden barbecue -- a nod to both state's BBQ roots -- Saturday's winner will have to settle for a conference win instead. But really, a conference win in a tough SEC East should be better than any trophy.
The No. 7 Gamecocks (3-0, 1-0 SEC) are coming off two lopsided wins at Williams-Brice Stadium against East Carolina and University of Alabama-Birmingham.
But those victories have not been the most-discussed topic among fans for the past week. Instead, fans have discussed Spurrier's decision to start junior quarterback Connor Shaw, who has been suffering from a deep bone bruise in this throwing shoulder since playing Vanderbilt.
"He'll start, he's fine," said Spurrier. "I think he could have played the second half the other night."
Shaw played against UAB last week, but appeared to reinjure his shoulder just before the half when he landed on it awkwardly while being tackled by a defender.
Sophomore backup quarterback Dylan Thompson once again took over for Shaw and lead the team to a 49 - 6 victory.
With Shaw getting the start, Spurrier said there's still an opportunity to bring in Thompson if he is needed.
"Hopefully both of them feel pretty good about each other," said Spurrier. "Maybe our team's more confident because we have two quarterbacks that can play."
Missouri (2-1, 0-1 SEC), meanwhile, is facing quarterback issues of its own. Last week, quarterback James Franklin (no relation to Vandy's coach, also named James Franklin) sat out against Arizona State due to a shoulder injury.
Backup quarterback Corbin Berkstresser played instead and threw for 198 yards and ran in for a touchdown in the 24 – 20 victory.
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel announced earlier in the week that Franklin, a second-year starter, would play against the Gamecocks in his second SEC start.
Two weeks ago, Missouri entered the conference with plenty of fanfare in their game against the Georgia Bulldogs. Despite a 10 – 9 lead at the end of the first half, the Tigers would be unable to capitalize on a slow start from Georgia and the Bulldogs came back to secure a 41 – 10 win over the newly-minted SEC team.
Trophy or no trophy, a conference win for South Carolina will sweeten the race for the East title, which is currently a three-way race between the Gamecocks, the Bulldogs, and the Florida Gators.
As for Missouri, a first victory over an East rival and top 10 team will go a long way to help build a perception among SEC fans that the Tigers belong in the conference.
Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. at Williams-Brice Stadium.
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