The 13-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks were dealt a devastating blow in Saturday's contest against the Tennessee Volunteers, when star running back Marcus Lattimore suffered what can only be deemed one of the more gruesome injuries in football history.
Ahead 21-14 late in the second quarter, Lattimore took a handoff and looked to stretch the play outside. As he was being dragged down from behind, a Tennessee defender went low and, well, just take a look for yourself to see what transpired.
(Warning: Do not watch this video if you are in the least bit squeamish.)
Obviously, everyone's concern first and foremost remains with Lattimore. By all accounts, he is a great kid, a fantastic football player and has worked incredibly hard to come back from an almost equally devastating injury last season.
For the Gamecocks, though, this injury will almost certainly end any hopes of them making a BCS bowl. After looking like a national championship contender, Steve Spurrier's bunch lost two straight contests and still has a season-ending tilt with the No. 18 Clemson Tigers remaining.
Granted, relative cupcakes stand before South Carolina before that game. Nonetheless, there is no change in scheme or player currently on the roster that can replace Lattimore's production.
Coming into Saturday, the junior back had 597 rushing yards and was by far the team's most consistent offensive weapon.
In fact, despite missing the last six games of last season and parts of games earlier in 2012, the junior running back is still third among current FBS players with 41 career touchdowns, according to ESPN Stats & Information:
Big loss for Gamecocks. Lattimore is tied for 3rd among active FBS players with 41 career TD #TENNvsSCAR— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) October 27, 2012
What's more, Lattimore was seemingly the team's only effective runner.
Kenny Miles, who stands to get the bulk of the carries in Lattimore's stead, has not averaged more than four yards per carry since the 2009 season.
To say that his effectiveness draws some concerns is a massive understatement.
That essentially leaves quarterback Connor Shaw to become a one-man wrecking crew on the offense. The junior dual-threat actually came into Week 9 completing 65.6 percent of his passes on the season and was the Gamecocks' second-leading rusher behind Lattimore
Playing through injury, Shaw's play has still been been up and down. After looking like one of the SEC's best quarterbacks early in the season, Shaw struggled in South Carolina's losses to Florida and LSU.
Without a running game to serve as a security blanket, it remains to be seen whether Shaw will be able to ascend to stardom.
If Shaw performs well without Lattimore, the Gamecocks could beat Clemson on Nov. 24 and sneak into a BCS bowl.
However, with the heart and soul of the South Carolina offense gone, it seems far more likely that Lattimore's injury will serve as an unfortunate death knell to the Gamecocks' 2012 season.
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