COLUMBIA — No last-second field goals. No overtime needed.
Back home at Williams-Brice Stadium after a three-week road trip, No. 14 South Carolina didn’t produce any dramatics in a 34-16 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday.
Connor Shaw threw four touchdown passes, Mike Davis surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season and the Gamecocks’ defense created five turnovers on a homecoming game day.
It all added up to the 15th consecutive home victory for the Gamecocks, matching the school record set from 1978-80. That keeps South Carolina tied for the second-longest home streak in the nation with Ohio State; both trail Michigan’s 19.
“Obviously our offense sputtered, it wasn’t a very good day for our offense,” South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. “Fortunately our defense was there and got some turnovers and we were able to capitalize.”
South Carolina was outgained by Mississippi State (385-307) and the Gamecocks only converted one of 11 on third downs.
“I think we need to go back and get a little more physical in practice,” Spurrier said. “It seemed like we were a little too soft.”
The Gamecocks (7-2 overall, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) started their three-week tour of the SEC with a big win against Arkansas. But the past two weeks were of the nail-biting variety as South Carolina lost to Tennessee on a field goal as time expired, then bounced back to defeat Missouri in double overtime.
Mississippi State (4-4, 1-3 SEC) took a 7-0 early lead thanks to Dak Prescott’s 1-yard run in the first quarter, but that didn’t last long.
Shaw connected with Shaq Roland for a pair of touchdown passes – 14 and 43 yards – and the Gamecocks added a 44-yard field goal from Elliott Fry to take a 17-10 lead at halftime.
The Gamecocks then seized control with a quick 17 points in the third quarter.
The big play came just after halftime when Chaz Sutton hit Prescott and forced a fumble that Sharrod Golightly recovered. Shaw threw a touchdown pass to Damiere Byrd to give the Gamecocks some breathing room, and they added another Shaw touchdown pass to Jerell Adams and a 37-yard field goal by Fry.
“It was huge,” Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said of the fumble. “Turnovers were the story of the game.”
After a week off, the Gamecocks take on Florida. South Carolina is still in the hunt for the SEC Eastern Division title, and it will have a chance to set the home winning streak record.
“In two weeks we’re coming in here to break it,” defensive end Jadeveon Clowney said. “We don’t want the streak to end against Florida.”