The USC football team completed an undefeated run thru the SEC East Saturday with the 17-12 win over Florida. That school first allowed the Gamecocks to finish with a 6-2 league mark, their best ever, and kept alive their hopes of a second straight SEC East title. They need Georgia to lose either later today to Auburn or next week to Kentucky for that to happen.
It was old fashion, rockem-sockem SEC football that won the game for USC. No fancy passing here. The Gamecocks completed only seven on the day, by far the fewest this season and the fewest under Steve Spurrier since the 2005 win over Florida. They did have one 46 yard completion, their longest pass play since the Kentucky game.
No, the Gamecocks turned to their running game and defense to win this game. And they responded in both categories. They rushed for 215 yards. Brandon Wilds, the freshman replacment for the injured Marcus Lattimore, had 120 yards, and Connor Shaw, the replacement for departed quarterback Stephen Garcia, added another 88 yards and two touchdowns. Spurrier’s new fangled option offense was not always a a thing of beauty, but it was enough to grind out this victory.
Gamecock receiver Alshon Jeffery was not a big factor in the game statistically with just two catches for 17 yards. But he surpassed the late Kenny McKinnley to become the school’s alltime leader in reception yardage with 2784 yards. Ironically, the pass was now thrown by true quarterback Shaw but by running back Bruce Ellington in the Wildcat formation.
The Gamecock defense had to come up big on two occassions and did so both times limiting the Gators to field goals. A pass interception set up the Gators at the USC 48. They had it first and goal at the Gamecock two but two runs lost five yards, and on third down DJ Swearinger cut down Deonte Thompson at the three after a pass reception. The other big stop came in the third quarter after the Gators had first and ten at the Gamecock 13. Again, the defense forced a field goal.
Florida did knock in a touchdown early in the fourth quarter but Marty Markett preserved the two point lead by intercepting a conversion pass. After a field goal put USC up by five, Florida had the ball twice more, and the Gamecock defense did not allow the Gators closer than the Gamecock 48. The game ended with a Travian Robertson sack of Jonathan Brantley.
Swearinger led the Gamecock unofficially with 9 tackles. Antonio Allen, back in the lineup after missing last week’s game at Arkansas, had 7 seven tackles including one for loss. In all, the Gamecocks had 11 tackles behind the line for a loss of 47 yards and three sacks.