On January 6, 2010 the South Carolina men's basketball team shocked the country by beating then-#1 Kentucky 68-62. Devan Downey put on a show, scoring 30 points in the win. On June 22, 2010 the South Carolina baseball team defeated #1 Arizona State, 11-4, in an elimination game at the College World Series in Omaha. Jackie Bradley Jr. went 3-for-4 with a home run and 4 RBI. On October 9th, 2010 the South Carolina football team topped it all by shocking #1 Alabama, 35-21, in front of a raucous crowd in Williams Brice Stadium.
"It was nice to beat the #1 team, there is no question about that," South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier said following the game. "It is nice for the University of South Carolina, for our football program."
As Devan Downey and Jackie Bradley, Jr. put on shows in their respective victories over top-ranked teams, it was Alshon Jeffery that put on a show this time, catching 7 passes for 127 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.
"That is a guy that you have to keep throwing at," Spurrier said. "Alshon is a tremendous player and it's always good to see a guy like Alshon have success. (He) could have gone anywhere in the country and (he) chose to come here and play at (his) home state university."
Jeffery, who entered the game leading the SEC in receiving yards and will likely widen that margin over Arkansas' Joe Adams, wasted little time getting involved in a big way. With the Gamecocks leading 7-3 after a Marcus Lattimore touchdown, Jeffery ran a corner route and quarterback Stephen Garcia hit him on the money between two defenders for a 26-yard touchdown pass to give the Gamecocks a 14-3 lead.
Jeffery certainly wasn't finished there. On the very next Gamecock possession, Garcia lofted a fade towards the end zone. Jeffery appeared to try his best Rod Gardner impersonation, getting a little separation from the defender and hauled in the 15-yard scoring strike. Jeffery ended the half with three receptions for 44 yards and two touchdowns as the Gamecocks took a 21-9 lead into the locker room.
In the second half, Jeffery did all his damage between the goal lines, but was very instrumental in both Gamecock touchdown drives. On South Carolina's 15-play, 82-yard scoring drive Jeffery made two huge conversions. Facing a 3rd-and-8 from their own 20, Garcia found Jeffery for 12 yards and a first down. On the next set of downs, the Gamecocks faced a 3rd-and-10 from their 32. Garcia again found Jeffery, who was hit short of the chains. However, Jeffery used every inch of his 6'4 frame and got the first down by the nose of the football.
"We ran that little under route that he caught for 5 or 6 (yards) and then carried him 4 yards for that first down," Spurrier said. "When you get a guy that can fall forward for three or four yards, you just have to keep getting him the ball."
"In 3rd-and-long I was just trying to make a play," Jeffery said.
The Gamecocks would go on to score on a Lattimore 1-yard run to extend the Gamecock lead to 28-14.
After a quick Bama touchdown to open the 4th quarter to cut the lead to 28-21, it had to feel like deja vu all over again for Jeffery and the Gamecocks. Just as what happened to end the Auburn game, Jeffery went up for a jump ball, had the ball knocked out of his hands, and the ball somehow found the arms of a defender laying out, this time Alabama's Will Lowery.
"The one he just sort of dropped and the guy came in and made a diving interception, that was one that just got away. Alshon was really a little mad at himself because he thought that was one he should have had."
Jeffery immediately made up for what he thought was his miscue. After a 16-yard completion on a 2nd-and-17 to put the Gamecocks in position to extend the possession, Jeffery made perhaps the biggest play of the football game. Facing one-on-one coverage from Alabama's Mark Barron, Garcia threw a fade that Jeffery hauled in with just his right arm and scampered 45 yards to the Alabama 6-yard line. Three plays later, it was Lattimore finding the end zone again to seal the 35-21 victory.
"Fortunately Alshon caught the fade route and took it down to the 6-yard line and we got it in there with Marcus and the offensive line," Spurrier said.
"I had some good catches, but that last one I caught one-handed I don't know how I caught it," Jeffery said with a smile. "I just reached up at the last minute and made a good catch"
"I'm not dwelling on the interception," Garcia said. "The guy knocked it out of his hands as he was coming down. It doesn't matter anymore because he made up for it with that one-handed catch that he took 45 yards down the field. That was the game changer right there. You really can't say enough about that kid."
Spurrier Moving Up the Charts
Steve Spurrier moved up the charts in two categories with the win over Alabama. Spurrier improved to 181-69-2 as a head coach. He is 39-29 at South Carolina, good enough to tie Joe Morrison and Billy Laval for fourth all-time.
Spurrier also won his 107th SEC game on Saturday. That moves him to sole possession of second in SEC history, moving him past Mississippi's John Vaught. He is now behind only Alabama's former coach Paul "Bear" Bryant, who has 159 wins.
"It was sort of neat to get that SEC record," Spurrier said. "To be second to him (Bryant) and to beat #1 Alabama."
Spurrier was so happy with himself he had to give himself a game ball after the game.
"I gave myself a game ball," Spurrier said with a laugh. XXXXXXX
South Carolina's victory over #1 Alabama was the first against a top-ranked team in its football history. It was the third against a top-five team, along with a 1981 31-13 victory against #3 North Carolina, and a 2009 16-10 victory over #4 Mississippi.
"It was nice to beat the #1 team, there is no question about that," Spurrier said. "It is nice for the University of South Carolina, for our football program. We had to play ball today, we played till the end and looked up and we had beaten #1 by a couple of touchdowns.
South Carolina also became the second known school to knock off a #1 ranked team in the three major sports. In 2007, Florida defeated #1 Ohio St in football and basketball, and the baseball team defeated #1 Florida State twice.
"I used a line this week that I've never used in my life," Spurrier said. "But since our basketball team had beat the #1 team and our baseball team had done it, I said ‘Fellas, if fate means for us to win this game Saturday then lets give it a chance.'"
Against the Ranked
The Gamecocks are 9-16 against ranked opponents under Spurrier, 2-1 this season with wins over Georgia and Alabama and a loss to Auburn. As a ranked team, the Gamecocks are 9-10 under Spurrier, 3-1 this season.
Home Field Advantage
Williams-Brice is quickly becoming one of the toughest places to win at in the SEC. The Gamecocks are 12-1 in its last 13 home games dating back to a 27-6 win over Tennessee in 2008. Two victories have come over top five teams and four against ranked teams overall.
The Gamecocks snapped Alabama's 19-game winning streak, and a 29-game regular-season winning streak. The Gamecocks also snapped an impressive streak of Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy. McElroy had not lost a game since middle school prior to the South Carolina loss.
Coming to Our City
The Gamecocks are now 2-3 when GameDay is in town. The Gamecocks defeated UCF in Spurrier's debut in 2005. The losses were to the Beasts of the East; Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee.
South Carolina scored 35 points against the Tide, the most since Nov. 3rd, 2007 when the Tide lost to LSU 41-34. The Gamecocks are 21-4 under Spurrier when scoring 30 or more points.
"We scored five touchdowns out of about eight real possessions," Spurrier said. "That is the best our offense has played ever since I've been here without a doubt. I think it was just meant to be."
The five touchdowns are two more than the Alabama defense has given up through five previous games combined in 2010.
Red-Hot Red Zone
The Gamecocks were a perfect four-for-four in the red zone. That extends their SEC-leading number to 19-20 with 17 touchdowns and two field goals.
Marcus Lattimore continues to impress in his freshman campaign. He caught his first career touchdown pass in the first quarter and threw in two more on the ground. His nine touchdowns currently leads the SEC (non-passing touchdowns).
"We were trying to throw him a few here and there," Spurrier said. "Then we did our basic runs and we were able to pop a few out there. We wanted to mix it up."
Lattimore finished with 95 yards rushing on 23 carries and also caught two passes for 16 yards.
Stephen Garcia finished 17-for-20 (career-best 85% completion percentage) for 201 yards and three touchdowns. The three touchdowns also equaled a career-high. He was sacked only once and threw one interception.
"Stephen Garcia played the best he's ever played," Spurrier said.
Dynamic Duo Nowhere to be Found
The dynamic duo of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson were largely ineffective. The two rushed for only 67 yards and neither found the end zone. The Tide rushed for just 36 yards as a team.
"We really played well," defensive lineman Melvin Ingram said. "People talked about how dominating their offensive line was. We just wanted to accept the challenge and go out and show how dominating we are."
The Gamecocks had seven sacks, tying a season-high. Considering the other was against Furman, the dominance in this game was much more impressive. Ingram and Gilmore each had two sacks.
Red Zone Defense
Just as impressive as the Gamecocks' offense in the red zone has been is the Gamecocks' defense. After Alabama went 2-for-4 in the red zone, opponents are only 12-for-20 in the red zone with just five touchdowns.
Other Defensive Notes
- Stephon Gilmore tied for the team-high with nine tackles, including his career-high two sacks.
- D.J. Swearinger also had 9 tackles and was credited with a QB hurry.
- Antonio Allen had his first-career sack, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Travian Robertson. Allen finished with five tackles as he appears to be 100% following a hamstring injury.
- Rodney Paulk also had a career-high 1.5 sacks and three total tackles.
Culliver Edges Closer
With Chris Culliver's three returns for 70 yards, he continues to inch up towards second in SEC history. He is one return and 22 yards away from second place, both of which should be eclipsed in next week's game at Kentucky.
Spencer Lanning was 5-for-5 on extra points and punted twice for an average of 41 yards, including a 49-yarder
Can't Fool Me
The Gamecock defense snuffed out a fake field goal attempt in the fourth quarter.
"We probably didn't make a good call on the fake," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "It gave them the momentum of the game back. We could have gotten some points there. It may not have affected the outcome of the game though because we couldn't stop them."
The Gamecocks also pressured the Tide into a missed field goal, a missed extra point, and a muffed punt of 15 yards.
- Alabama is now 3-6 under Saban when trailing at halftime. South Carolina led 21-9 at halftime today
- Alabama trailed by double-digits at the half, the first since the Tide's last loss in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.
- This was the second-highest halftime deficit for the Tide under Saban. The Tide trailed 21-0 at halftime of the 2009 Sugar Bowl
- Saban is now 3-1 against South Carolina. As LSU coach, Saban defeated the Gamecocks 38-14 in 2002 and 33-7 in 2003. Saban's Tide defeated the Gamecocks 20-6 last season
- Saban is now 1-3 against Spurrier. Spurrier's Gators defeated Saban's Tigers 41-9 in 2000 and 44-15 in 2001. He is 1-1 agianst Spurrier with the Tide against the Gamecocks
- Alabama is now 12-3 against the AP Top 25 in the past three seasons. This was the first loss against a team not ranked in the Top 10 (8-2 against Top 10 teams)
Marcus Lattimore dinged his arm attempting to dive for a pass, but didn't come out of the game and is fine. There were no other injuries for the Gamecocks, which is surprising in-and-of itself against a physical Alabama team.
The Gamecocks hit the road for the second time this season, heading to Lexington to take on the Kentucky Wildcats. Game time has yet to be determined.
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