Spurrier: Thompson to start against Missouri

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Dylan Thompson is slated to start Saturday in what is easily the most important game of the season thus far for the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Steve Spurrier said Tuesday that Connor Shaw will likely be back to 100% in "two to three weeks." Until then, Thompson is the starting quarterback.

Shaw was knocked out of the Tennessee game in the 4th quarter with what team officials are calling a sprained knee.

"He may be able to dress and be a backup, we don't know," said Spurrier on Shaw's chances of being on the sidelines against the Tigers. "Dylan is definitely going to start the game and it'll be his game to go with."

There was one encouraging sign today at practice. Shaw was not wearing the yellow jersey that injured players wear. He wore his normal jersey, but he didn't have on shoulder pads.

"Thompson's game" is a do-or-die game for the Gamecocks if there is any hope left to win the SEC East.

No. 5 Missouri sits at 7-0 coming off huge wins over Georgia and Florida. With a win against South Carolina, the Tigers will likely be division champions.

If the Gamecocks come out on top, there's still a chance for a USC trip to Atlanta for the Southeastern Conference Championship Game.

For that to happen, the Gamecocks will have to beat Missouri and win their remaining conference games against Mississippi State and Florida. In addition, Missouri will have to lose one game against one of its final four opponents: Tennessee, Kentucky, Ole Miss, or Texas A&M.

"It's a huge game for us," said Spurrier. "It's a game that's gonna decide whether or not we're in the division hunt or not. Simple as that."

"Hopefully we can regroup and go out to Missouri and play our best game of the year," said the Head Ball Coach, who is hoping to put his team's stunning loss against Tennessee behind him. "That one's history and to beat Missouri we've got to take care of the ball better and we've got to stop them."

Saturday will mark Thompson's first start of the season.

"I think Dylan is ready to go," said Spurrier. "He'll prepare as hard as he can this week. He will be ready to go and he'll give it his best shot, we know that. This is his time this year. It's coming up."

The junior's 'time of year' last year was the latter part of the season. Thompson led the 2012 team to a win over Clemson to close out the season. He also tossed the winning pass late in the Outback Bowl to lift the Gamecocks over Michigan.

Saturday's game in Columbia, Missouri kicks off at 7 p.m. and can be seen on ESPN 2.

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