The Gamecocks' season would have been over if they lost to the Knights on Saturday afternoon. Heading into halftime with a 0-10 deficit, it really looked like South Carolina could fall to 2-2 on the season and watch its national championship hopes disappear in an instant.
Just when fans were thinking that, running back Mike Davis put the team on his back and carried South Carolina to victory. With quarterback Connor Shaw injured, wide receiver Shaq Roland inactive and the defense struggling, the sophomore rushed for 167 yards and scored three touchdowns.
South Carolina won the game 28-25.
Steve Spurrier: "I like winning in Florida. That would have been disappointing."— Josh Kendall (@JoshatTheState) September 28, 2013
Well, he has Davis to thank.
He scored a 53-yard touchdown on the first possession of the third quarter to rejuvenate the team, and his two touchdowns in the fourth quarter put the game away. Davis was on a mission in the second half, and the Knights had absolutely no answer for the talented runner.
Has Mike Davis established himself as elite?
His performance helps South Carolina improve to 3-1 on the season and keeps the Gamecocks in the SEC and national championship picture. With a bunch of cupcakes on the schedule until November, this is the chance for South Carolina to continue to climb in the polls.
But never mind the team's success for a second. One of the main questions with South Carolina entering the season was who was going to replace Marcus Lattimore. Davis was the favorite to fill those big shoes, but many remained hesitant given the limited playing time he saw his freshman season.
Davis now has 508 rushing yards on the season and six touchdowns. He's also displayed great hands, as he now has nine receptions in the last three games. He's proved his worth and has already gained the attention of draft scouts:
Mike Davis - Frank Gore 2.0— Luke Inman (@Luke_Spinman) September 28, 2013
Todd Gurley is the best running back in the SEC. But Jeremy Hill and Mike Davis are damn good too.— Scott Carasik (@ScottCarasik) September 28, 2013
I haven't studied him much, but everything I've seen of South Carolina RB Mike Davis suggests he's really good. Good power/speed/quick combo— Dan Hope (@Dan_Hope) September 28, 2013
He's a bulky runner at 5'9", 215 pounds who rarely goes down on initial contact and always keeps his legs turning. While his power and durability is impressive, he also has deceptive quickness and is capable of hitting a second gear once he gets into the open field. With more performances like this, there's no question more and more scouts will begin to take notice.
Davis has a bright future and has given South Carolina an elite offensive playmaker to build around. But for now, he saved South Carolina's season for another week.