COLUMBIA — South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has complained all season about his team’s inability to force turnovers.
Against Mississippi State, he had no reason to quibble. The Gamecocks caused a season-high five turnovers as they defeated the Bulldogs 34-16.
South Carolina had only forced 11 turnovers coming into Saturday’s game, and the Gamecocks had given the ball up 15 times for a minus-4 differential.
They are now on the plus side for the season.
“We were due. We haven’t had a lot of turnovers this year,” defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward said. “I think earlier in the season we didn’t get many because we were tentative.”
The Gamecocks produced 20 points from the turnovers, and it proved to be the difference.
“We didn’t squander the opportunities,” Spurrier said.
Skai Moore, Chaz Elder and T.J. Holloman each came up with interceptions, and Sharrod Golightly and Victor Hampton each recovered fumbles.
RECORD IN SIGHT: Connor Shaw is closing in on the record for most wins for a starting quarterback in South Carolina history.
Shaw is now 23-5 as a starter and needs just two more wins to surpass leader Todd Ellis, who was 24-16-3 during his career.
The Gamecocks have three regular-season games remaining – Florida, Coastal Carolina and Clemson – all at home.
GRAND EFFORT: Sophomore running back Mike Davis eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark in the third quarter. He finished the game with 128 yards on 15 carries, and now has 1,058 yards for the season.
He is just the eighth Gamecock to rush for more than 1,000, and the first since Marcus Lattimore gained 1,197 in 2010.
Davis now has seven 100-yard rushing games and is on pace for the third-best season in school history. Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers holds the top two spots with 1,894 yards (1980) and 1,681 yards (1979).
GOING BOWLING: South Carolina became bowl eligible with its victory at Missouri last week. Now, the Gamecocks are just trying to improve their options.
Scouts from the Capital One Bowl were in attendance Saturday, and some media outlets have projected the Gamecocks could play in the Sugar Bowl.
It’s the 10th consecutive year South Carolina has been eligible for the postseason.
After losing their first eight bowl games, the Gamecocks have won six of their past 10. That includes wins the past two seasons in the Capital One and Outback bowls.