South Carolina Football: Gamecocks' Top 10 Moments of the 2011 Season

Alex Roberts@@alexCoAbassCorrespondent IJanuary 3, 2012

South Carolina Football: Gamecocks' Top 10 Moments of the 2011 Season

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    The Gamecocks have plenty to crow about after the 2011 football season.  For a team and a program that has been a historically five- to seven-win-a-year group, the jump has been tremendous.  It now isn't out of the question to expect a seven- to 10-win season year in and year out, and it isn't difficult to see an 11- or 12-win season for this team and program. 

    The Gamecocks, ladies and gentlemen, have arrived. 

    Here were my personal favorite moments of 2011's magical season. 

10. Stephen Garcia's Comeback Against ECU

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    Yes, I know that he ended his career as an afterthought, but a great deal can be said about his gritty performance against East Carolina, leading the team to victory with his fullback-like runs. 

    I want to personally remember Garcia for the positives he did for this program, not the negatives.  This will be my final memory of him. 

9. Alshon Jeffery's Game-Winning Catch Against Mississippi State

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    In what was a pretty poorly played Gamecock game, Alshon Jeffery made up for it with an astounding catch in the end zone that guaranteed victory.  If anything, Alshon was underrated this year.  His numbers were down,  but he wasn't targeted as much.  He finished with 762 yards and eight touchdowns. 

    Please, Jeffery, one more year. 

8. Marcus Lattimore's One-Man Show Against Navy

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    In a game that shouldn't have been close, Marcus Lattimore single-handedly delivered the Gamecocks a victory, rushing for 246 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 6.6 yards per carry.  He also added 25 yards receiving. 

7. Jadeveon Clowney's First Big Game Against Georgia

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    With two sacks and a strip, Jadeveon Clowney announced that he was here and he was for real.  He would go on to have a tremendous season, with six forced fumbles and nine sacks.  He proved the hype to be real, and was named to numerous All-SEC and All-Freshman lists. 

6. The Alshon Jeffery 'Teabag' of a Clemson Defensive Back

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    While admittedly not one of Jeffery's classier moments or biggest games, this important touchdown catch nonetheless provided potentially the image of the year, and a great "who's your daddy" moment in the rivalry. 

    Obviously, I loved it. 

5. Welcome to the Connor Shaw Show Against Kentucky

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    There are literally no words to describe the insane performance that Connor Shaw had against Kentucky in his first start.  He threw for 311 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions and ran for 42 as well.  Shaw will be a brilliant starting quarterback for the Gamecocks for the next two years. 

    However, this singular performance ranks as one of the greatest quarterback displays in Carolina history. 

4. South Carolina's Mr. Football Shaq Roland Committing to South Carolina

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    This is way more important than it seems.  The 4- and 5-star player Shaq Roland out of Lexington, South Carolina becomes the fourth South Carolina Mr. Football to stay in-state and in Garnet and Black. 

    This do-it-all receiver, return man and defensive back will play a huge roll in the potentially big 2012 year. 

3. Beating the Clemson Tigers for the Third Straight Year

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    As Steve Spurrier put it, “It’s neat to beat Clemson because, historically, they’ve owned South Carolina,” Spurrier said following the 34-13 victory, “but they don’t own us right now, that’s for sure.”

    It really is neat to beat Clemson, and even neater when their "coach of the year" goes off on a rant that makes him look like a fool nationally. 

    The Gamecocks are in Dabo Swinny's head, and it is hilarious. 

2. Melvin Ingram's Game Against Georgia, and His Meteoric Rise to the Top

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    Melvin Ingram is another great example of what a player who stays on for four years can do.  Not only did he go from a second-day pick to a potential top-10 wonder, he graduated and experienced things that he could never have if he left. 

    Do you think he regrets coming back for his senior year? 

    Alshon Jeffery, Stephon Gilmore and Devin Taylor should take note. 

    It all started with his game against Georgia, which was one of the finest performances of all time for a Gamecock defensive end. 

1. Winning the 11th Game of the Season by Beating Nebraska in the Bowl

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    Outsiders laugh at the idea that the Gamecocks are getting rings for winning 11 games in 2011. 

    Laugh all you want...for this program, it is a gigantic and momentous occasion, that should be celebrated and honored.  This team should be rewarded for its effort. 

    They won the elusive 11th game by beating Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl. 

    Bo Pelini still said postgame that he still felt as though Nebraska was a better team.  Think again, Bo.  Not now, not then and certainly not in the near future. 

    The Gamecocks are here to stay. 

    It's great to be a Gamecock!