In what many said may be an upset, an upset is what happened.
Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide came to Columbia prepared for a fight, but the Gamecocks were ready. So ready in fact, the eight point underdogs silenced their critics with a 14 point win. The Gamecocks have long been criticized for never getting over the hump. If they didn't get over it today, they can at least let forward momentum carry them over.
Steve Spurrier moved into second place on the SEC wins list behind only Paul "Bear" Bryant. Spurrier commented after the game, "I gave myself a game ball."
Much maligned starting quarterback Stephen Garcia did exactly what he had to do to give his team the advantage; Hit his big time targets, protect the football, and hand it to Marcus Lattimore and Brian Maddox. He did just that.
Marcus Lattimore, the true freshman from Duncan, South Carolina didn't run for triple digits, but he had triple scores. Two on the ground and one through the air. With the ESPN College Gameday crew in Columbia, and the other media attention the entire team, but the true freshman workhorse kept his composure and battled through an apparent injury to make his impact in the SEC, and on the country.
Many will mention Stephen Garcia's mistake to give Alabama a safety on the first offensive snap of the second half, or Chris Culliver's muff of the initial kickoff of the second half. Culliver scooped the ball and gained positive yardage, while Garcia gave Alabama two points, but didn't give up six. Both sides of the ball played their game.
The offense put more points on the board than anyone has against Alabama since their Sugar Bowl loss when they gave 31 to Utah.
There was talk earlier this year, before the season started, and still is, that this team is Steve Spurrier's best team at South Carolina. That talk is correct, but more appropriately, this team is the best team the University of South Carolina has ever had.
There are complete football players in different positions to make up a team. Not one above average player, or one superstar. This is a unit. One that works together. One that shows that it is determined to win.
This was the first time in the history of the University of South Carolina that they defeated the #1 ranked team in the nation. Gamecock teams of old have folded in similar situations. Especially when the gap closed to seven points.
When the Gamecocks needed a play, they made one.
They did things to the Alabama defense, and offense that hadn't been done to the tide since before 2008. The quick points in the first half gave Alabama the advantage in time of possession.
The second half though, the Gamecocks showed they knew what to do, and how to do it to bring home the biggest win in program history.
Alshon Jeffery is one of the best receivers in college football right now. He had yet another 100 yard receiving performance, and two more touchdowns. Both touchdowns were sensational grabs, and his final catch that got the Gamecocks within striking distance was a one handed grab, coupled with a broken tackle and a forty plus yard scamper.
The defense gave McElroy room, and left him open receivers, but Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson didn't break free. McElroy also fell victim to blitzes. Giving up a fumble, and taking multiple sacks. Two weeks after giving Cam Newton a highlight reel game, the Gamecocks defense stepped up and played the game of their lives.
The philosophy of bend don't break paid off again for Ellis Johnson's defense.
There were a few instances of blown coverages, allowing a 51 yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, and allowing a touchdown before the half on a mismatch pairing the smaller C.C. Whitlock with the bigger, more physical Jones.
When it came to crunch time, Ellis Johnson called for, and his defense executed blitzes and crowded the box nearly to perfection.
The Gamecock fans can enjoy this victory for a while, but the Gamecocks can enjoy until tomorrow or Monday, because Kentucky is only a week away. Can the head ball coach keep his teams momentum going? Or do the Gamecocks now become candidates for the letdown?
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