The South Carolina Gamecocks earned a huge statement victory by beating the Georgia Bulldogs, 35-7.
Perhaps the most anticipated matchup of the week, experts and fans alike figured that this would be a much closer game to determine the favorite in the SEC East. After Saturday night's game, it's clear that South Carolina is in the driver's seat.
The Gamecocks set the tone early with a pair of touchdown tosses in the first quarter from Connor Shaw and put the Bulldogs in an even bigger hole with a 70-yard punt return from junior wide receiver Ace Sanders to go up 21-0 in the first quarter.
Georgia struggled to get anything going offensively against a monstrous South Carolina defensive front led by defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. It was clear that Georgia's offense wasn't built to come from behind as Murray struggled all game, going 11-of-31 for 109 yards.
The second half didn't offer much hope for the Bulldog faithful as the game continued to be all about Steve Spurrier's squad.
Star running back Marcus Lattimore added a rushing touchdown in the third quarter to take the lead to 28-0.
Connor Shaw added to his impressive night as the dual-threat quarterback ran in another score to widen to take the Gamecocks to 35-0.
Georgia running back Ken Malcome punched in a touchdown in the waning moments of the final quarter to prevent the shutout. Overall, this was as dominant a performance as you'll see in an SEC matchup of this caliber, and South Carolina ruled the night.
Tweets of the Night
Mr. SEC reminded fans that Georgia's offense looked potent coming into this game. The Gamecocks defense is for real.
Quick reminder: Georgia was averaging 48 points per game going into Columbia.South Carolina's defense looks Alabama good.— MrSEC (@MrSEC) October 7, 2012
ESPN analyst and former Georgia defensive end David Pollack heaped some praise on the Gamecocks defensive front. Pointing out the Gamecocks could have just ran the ball the entire second half.
South Carolina's Dline is abusing Georgia up front. No room to run, no time to throw, SC might not have 2 throw the ball again.— David Pollack(@davidpollack47) October 7, 2012
Chris Brown of Smart Football and Grantland summed up the feelings of just about everyone that felt this would be a slugfest.
I'm totally shocked by the Georgia/South Carolina game. I was one of those impressed w/ UGA's O this year.— Smart Football (@smartfootball) October 7, 2012
Grades for Key Georgia Players
QB Aaron Murray: C-
Murray came into the season as a quarterback who was touted as one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC and a possible first-round pick in next year's NFL draft.
His performance against the Gamecocks should put a damper on all of that talk. Murray was constantly on the run and was highly ineffective against a defense that really got after the quarterback.
With his team way behind in the early going, Murray could have really made a statement by shaking off the bad start and throwing his team back into it, but that simply never happened. He didn't get a whole lot of help from his offensive line or supporting skill players, but his performance left a lot to be desired.
RB Todd Gurley: C-
Much like Murray, Gurley was severely hindered by his offensive line. However, as a playmaker his team needed him to make the best out of a bad situation, and Gurley failed to do that.
The usually dynamic runner was completely bottled up by South Carolina. Gurley was held to a mere 39 yards on 13 carries.
Obviously, he was not in a position to get a ton of carries because of the early deficit, but the Bulldogs needed a little more from their back. He didn't deliver.
Grades for Key South Carolina Players
DE Jadeveon Clowney: A+
The real story of this game was the South Carolina defense.
The Gamecocks completely suffocated Georgia, and it all started up front with super sophomore defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
Clowney was seemingly everywhere on the field, and his combination of quickness, size and strength was a big reason for Georgia's frustration on offense. Whether stuffing the run or disrupting the passing game, Bulldogs offensive players likely have a big No. 7 permanently burned into their retinas.
In a game that featured Georgia's Jarvis Jones, Clowney was the best defensive player on the field—that's a pretty big statement considering Jones' ability.
RB Marcus Lattimore: B+
Marcus Lattimore is considered by many to be the best running back in the country, and he didn't disappoint in this game.
Lattimore was a steady contributor to the South Carolina attack as the Gamecocks outrushed the Gamecocks, 231 to 115.
Lattimore was tough between the tackles and got stronger as the game wore on, racking up 109 yards on 24 carries. Lattimore was rewarded with a touchdown from the 1-yard line in the third quarter. Definitely another strong outing for the South Carolina back.