Monday Notebook

The Sports Xchange takes a look at the Gamecocks' victory over Florida.

When Steve Spurrier took over as the University of South Carolina's football coach six years ago, he began his tenure with a motto: "Why not us?"

It was Spurrier's way of saying it was time to set higher goals for the Gamecocks program. One of the first was capturing the squad's first Southeastern Conference Eastern Division title, followed by the league crown.

Although it took longer than Spurrier planned, South Carolina made the first half of that dream a reality on Saturday when the Gamecocks rolled into Gainesville, Fla., and dismantled the Gators 36-14 in front of a sellout crowd of more than 90,000.

The victory earned the Gamecocks their first SEC Eastern Division crown since joining the league in 1992. They will face second-ranked Auburn in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Dec. 4 for the conference championship. Auburn claimed a 35-27 victory at home over South Carolina early in the season.

Even more impressive to Spurrier than watching his team advance to the SEC championship game was the manner in which it was accomplished. South Carolina totally dominated his alma mater and the school he returned to football prominence.

"It was just a tremendous team victory," Spurrier said. "I am really proud of our team. It was a good night for South Carolina, for the Gamecocks. Obviously we had some star players -- (running back) Marcus Lattimore, (wide receiver) Alshon Jeffery -- but I thought it was a team victory.

"We gave everyone on the team a game ball. Lattimore gets one about every week, so he was fine with sharing it with the entire team."

Lattimore was definitely the star of the game, rushing a South Carolina-record 40 times for 212 yards and three touchdowns. He also caught two passes for 31 yards.

Despite Lattimore's Herculean efforts, the victory was more than a one-man show. Quarterback Stephen Garcia efficiently ran the offense, completing 15 of 22 passes for 156 yards, while rushing for 12 times for 28 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

The offensive line played possibly its best game of the season despite being without senior left tackle Jarriel King, who did not make the trip after suffering a concussion.

The defense held Florida to 35 yards rushing and 226 total yards. The Gators had only 68 total yards through three quarters as the Gamecocks held the football for more than 40 minutes.

"This was a huge win for us," Garcia said. "To win on the road against a Florida team that is very tough is big, as is the way we won."

The Gamecocks were dominant on both sides of the line as the defense pressured all three of Florida's quarterbacks.

With the SEC portion of the regular season over, the Gamecocks hope to remain focused as they host Troy on Saturday prior to finishing the regular season a week later with a road game against rival Clemson.


--Senior placekicker Spencer Lanning missed an extra point following South Carolina's initial touchdown against Florida. That was all he missed, however, as he drilled field goals of 49, 47 and 41 yards. He also punted six times for a 43.7-yard average with one downed inside the 20-yard line.

One of the Gamecocks' captains, Lanning was more impressed with the performance of his teammates, however.

"You should see our locker room right now," Lanning said following the game. "It is absolutely insane. I have never seen so many smiles around a locker room. We're not going to have a problem getting up for the rest of our games. We have a very strong unit. We will be ready to play."

--With a 5-3 SEC record, South Carolina ended with a winning mark in the league for the fourth time since joining the conference in 1992. The other times were 2000, 2001 and 2005. The Gamecocks finished 4-1 against SEC Eastern Division opponents, with the lone loss suffered against Kentucky. It is the first time they defeated Florida, Georgia and Tennessee in the same season.

--Marcus Lattimore broke the South Carolina record for season rushing yards by a freshman. Following his 212-yard performance against the Gators, he has 964 yards in nine games to break the mark of 848 yards set by Thomas Dendy in 1982.

His three touchdowns broke a tie with Sidney Rice for most by a freshman. He now has 16, which ties him with Harold Green for most scores by any South Carolina performer in a season.

--South Carolina's 54 rushing attempts were the second most for the Gamecocks under coach Steve Spurrier. The team rushed 58 times in a victory over Clemson last season.

GAME BALL GOES TO: Antonio Allen -- The junior, who has had a breakout season, finished with three solo tackles and four assists, in addition to a team-leading 2.5 tackles for loss. He was also the emotional leader of the unit that limited Florida to 226 total yards, which included just 35 on the ground.

KEEP AN EYE ON: DE Devin Taylor -- Already having an All-SEC type season, the sophomore had two tackles for loss, including one quarterback sack against Florida. He also broke up two passes when dropping back in coverage. He has 7.5 sacks this season.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "If we lost, it wouldn't be (significant) at all. It would just be another loss. But, since we won, it is probably in the top five. We haven't had a whole lot of championships, so this one is pretty good." -- Coach Steve Spurrier, on the importance of Saturday's win over Florida.


LOOKING GOOD: The Gamecocks defense limited Florida to 226 total offensive yards, the least by an opponent this season. It is the third time this season and 24th under Steve Spurrier that a South Carolina defense has limited an opponent to fewer than 300 total yards. South Carolina is 3-0 this season and 20-4 under Spurrier when keeping an opponent below 300 total yards.

STILL NEEDS WORK: The Gamecocks allowed a 99-yard Florida touchdown on the opening kickoff. It was the first time that has happened since Clemson's C.J. Spiller did it against South Carolina in 2009. The Gamecocks won both games.


--LT Jarriel King did not make the trip due to a concussion suffered a week earlier against Arkansas. His availability for this week's game against Troy will be determined later in the week.

--DE Chaz Sutton continues to be held out with a broken bone in his hand. His availability will be determined later in the week.

--CB C.C. Whitlock returned to action as a reserve against Florida. He had two tackles.

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