The time has come for the loud cries of doubt to be silenced. By dismantling Georgia, 35-7, the South Carolina Gamecocks have proved that they most certainly deserve their place in the Top 10.
For the Gamecocks, this season's most popular team for the public to doubt, they tasted the sweet nectar of vindication. Not only did they beat the team that stole the SEC East from them a year ago, but they also proved to the world that they belong among college football's best.
Steve Spurrier's ballclub saw everything work for them on this night. The run game was a monster, as Marcus Lattimore and Connor Shaw both did the Garnet and Black proud. Shaw was efficient, and the running game worked well enough that he wasn't forced to throw the ball by the Bulldogs defense.
Special teams got involved in the mix; Ace Sanders' touchdown was an early exclamation point in the first quarter.
And then we get to the defense. The Gamecocks shut the Dawgs down on a goal-line stand. The 'Cocks got after Aaron Murray. They suffocated the run game. They harassed Georgia receivers.
Every single key to the game on the defensive side of the football came to fruition for Lorenzo Ward's unit. Outside of a garbage-time touchdown by Ken Malcome, the Bulldogs were unable to do much of anything right, and that was due to the defensive play of the Gamecocks.
How will South Carolina fare in their next two contests?
South Carolina is for real, despite their early struggles against Vanderbilt and their slow start against Kentucky; we finally have a reason to say that South Carolina is legit.
While the Gamecocks have solidified their place among the nation's elite, they are not out of the woods. Dates with LSU and Florida sit on the horizon in October, and Spurrier's team will again be tested.
South Carolina goes to LSU a week after the Bayou Bengals took their first regular-season loss since 2010. The SEC East road goes through Florida and both teams are looking to be undefeated for that matchup come October 20th.
This is a statement win for South Carolina. No more reason to doubt their residency in the Top 10; they earned it by dismantling the Bulldogs. For this Georgia team, time to go back to Athens and lick their wounds.
They'll need help to win the SEC East, and after last season, odds are the Gamecocks are not going to be the team that provides the wiggle room.