Missouri hits the road in the SEC

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Missouri gets its first taste of life on the road in the SEC on Saturday.

Consider it the battle of the Columbias.

The Tigers traveled 870 miles from their version of Columbia to take on No. 7 South Carolina, which is a fitting locale for Missouri’s SEC road debut.

This place is one of the more underrated in the country when it comes to game-day atmospheres. The Cockabooses just outside Williams-Brice Stadium remain one of the more unique tailgating experiences in all of college football.

They’re old cockabooses that have been renovated and turned into game-day party sites.

I’ve already seen a lot of black and gold in town, both Friday night and Saturday just outside the stadium.

It still seems weird to call this a conference game. But it is, and Missouri can vault right back into the Eastern Division race with an upset of the Gamecocks.

The big news of the day is that Missouri quarterback James Franklin is expected to start for the Tigers. He missed last week’s game against Arizona State with an inflamed bursa sac in his right throwing shoulder.

South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw has also been fighting a right shoulder injury, a hairline fracture, but was out throwing several minutes ago with teammates and seemed to have really good zip on the ball.

Both guys like to run, and that's a big part of the two offenses, so it remains to be seen how much more wear and tear they can absorb and still be effective.

It's a long season.