COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina did what it had to do to stay in the SEC East race by beating Florida 19-14 Saturday night, and pardon Gamecock coach Steve Spurrier if he's unconcerned about the lack of style points.
Actual points were hard enough to come by.
"We weren't very good on offense again," Spurrier said. "Somehow, it worked out. We're 6-2 in the conference three years in a row now and that's pretty good for us."
The 10th-ranked Gamecocks (8-2, 6-2 SEC) finish out the season with non-conference home games with Coastal Carolina and Clemson.
Meanwhile, South Carolina needs help elsewhere. Missouri needs to lose one of its remaining games against Ole Miss or Texas A&M to give the Gamecocks their second SEC East title in 21 years in the league.
Ward: "We talk to the players before the game about not getting involved in a lot of trash talking and bickering." #Gamecocks— Willie Smith (@willie_t_smith) November 17, 2013
South Carolina began the evening needing help from Auburn also. The Tigers knocked Georgia out of the SEC East race with a 43-38 victory that ended early in the first quarter of the South Carolina-Florida game.
Auburn scored the game-winning pass on an improbable Hail Mary pass.
The last play was flashed on South Carolina's video board during a Gamecock timeout.
"It was there on the screen and that's when our people started yelling" Spurrier said. "We haven't even talked about it. Well, after the game, I said by the way, Auburn beat Georgia today."
Maybe Spurrier knew that that meant it was going to be South Carolina's day.
There were fireworks in Auburn, but in Columbia, South Carolina's offense sputtered all game, and the Gamecocks' only touchdown came on a 32-yard touchdown pass from Connor Shaw to Bruce Ellington on a 4th-and-3 play.
The Gamecocks had to settle for four field goals by freshman Elliott Fry.
The injury-riddled Gators, with a redshirt freshman making his first career start at quarterback, led the Gamecocks 14-12 in the fourth quarter before Fry's 22-yard field goal put South Carolina ahead 16-14.
"When you have to kick a bunch of field goals, that's usually the kind of game you lose," Spurrier said. "We managed to win."
In fact, despite a subpar effort, everything seemed to go South Carolina's way Saturday and Spurrier couldn't help but notice.
"I'm proud of our players," Spurrier said. "Our players play like winners. At halftime, there wasn't a lot of laughter or much joy in the locker room at halftime, but afterward, we had a happy bunch of Gamecocks. Maybe something bigger is going to happen for us down the road, I don't know."
It could have been a nightmare. Instead, the Gamecocks can now exhale and smile.
Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes obtained first hand.