Last year, there was a pretty clear way to stop the South Carolina Gamecocks. Knock Marcus Lattimore out of the game, and bam, the game is yours. Ask Kentucky or Florida State.
Or, ask Auburn, whose defense loaded up on Marcus Lattimore and dared the Gamecocks to beat them without him.
So, obviously, when the Gamecocks lost their star player, most people thought it was the end of the Gamecocks.
Well, after a game and a half of Lattimore-less play, the Gamecocks are two and zero, and continuing to learn.
How have they done it? Ball control offense, and a stifling defense. It isn't pretty, and it isn't fun to watch.
Guess what? It works.
The Gamecocks are 7-1. They beat Tennessee by more than the spread. The outcome of that game was never in doubt. For whatever reason, people only call a victory a victory if it's by more that 11 points, apparently.
The offense wasn't asked to do much. They didn't take any true chances downfield. They utilized Brandon Wilds and Connor Shaw's legs for over 200 yards rushing, and a whole lot of time off the clock.
How will the Gamecocks finish?
The defense sealed it with another dominant performance from the fifth ranked defense in the country. They held Tennessee to comparable points and yards to Alabama and LSU.
South Carolina could absolutely finish the season 11-1. You may not like it, fans may not like it, and experts may continue to doubt, but stingy D and ball control offense is a recipe for W's every week.
... and the Gamecocks are continuing to learn how to live post Lattimore. It only goes up from here.
It's great to be a Gamecock.