Missouri faces uphill battle after South Carolina loss

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COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) Missouri led South Carolina by two possessions heading into halftime and the Tigers were about to get the ball back to start the second half on the road.

Nothing went according to plan the rest of the way.

Through a downpour in Columbia, South Carolina, Missouri's talented offense slipped and made mistakes. Tucker McCann drilled a 57-yard field goal with 1:18 remaining in the game, but the Gamecocks countered with a winning field goal to wipe away Missouri's hopes of a fourth win.

Now, sitting 3-2 and winless in two SEC games, Missouri faces an uphill battle. South Carolina was a tone-setter for the Tigers' remainder of the season, which continues this Saturday at top-ranked Alabama, and a sloppy performance was quite discouraging after a weekend off that was supposed to help coach Barry Odom clean up the kind of miscues that dogged them in a loss to Georgia.

"We just have to learn from what we did wrong," offensive lineman Paul Adams said. "When we have a lead like that, we can't let it get away. We have to keep it as long as we can."

Up two points in the third quarter, running back Damarea Crockett ripped off a 59-yard run down to South Carolina's 11-yard line. But after three penalties and an incompletion, Missouri faced fourth-and-33, and punter Corey Fatony dropped the snap as the Tigers turned the ball over on downs.

On Missouri's following drive, quarterback Drew Lock threw a softball into the hands of Gamecocks linebacker Sherrod Greene, who ran the interception back for a score.

"I have four or five or six or seven plays in my head right now that obviously you want back, but that's football," Lock said this week. "It sucks because we're going to watch this game and it's going to be gut-wrenching watching it."

Lock threw two picks without a touchdown pass against the Gamecocks, while Missouri committed 10 penalties for 83 yards.

"I'm really confident that we'll bounce back quickly because we've done it before," Lock said.

Then again, the Heisman Trophy candidate said the same thing after the loss to the second-ranked Bulldogs. And despite Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban calling Missouri "by far the biggest challenge we've had all season long," the Tigers are 28.5-point underdogs as they head to Tuscaloosa.

They also have games ahead against No. 18 Kentucky and No. 14 Florida.

"I'm frustrated with not finding a way to win (at South Carolina), and so is the locker room," Odom said. "We've got to look at the opportunities that are coming up on how can you bounce back, how can you continue to work, how can you do the things you need to in order to put yourself and your team in a position to win a game? We've got a long ways to go and a lot of work to do.

"I also think we can end up being a good football team," Odom added. "The amount of time and the care for each other that they have, they're hurt, there's no doubt about it, but I don't for one second think that we're going to sit back and say 'woe is me' and wave the white flag. That's not where we're at."

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