South Carolina makes history

Gamecocks knock off No. 1 Tide

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COLUMBIA --- All the ingredients were in place for the biggest win in South Carolina football history.

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Gamecocks QB Stephen Garcia had three TDs.  Travis Bell/Sideline Carolina
Travis Bell/Sideline Carolina
Gamecocks QB Stephen Garcia had three TDs.

The No. 1 team in the nation, Alabama, was the opponent for the nationally televised game.

ESPN's College Gameday crew set up in Columbia, and 82,993 fans packed Williams-Brice Stadium.

This time, the Gamecocks and quarterback Stephen Garcia delivered.

Garcia turned in the best performance of his career with three touchdowns on pinpoint passing, and the Gamecocks whipped the Crimson Tide, 35-21.

"I guess it couldn't have come at a better time," Garcia said of his 17 for 20 effort. "The crowd was really into it, and I think we responded unbelievably well to the questions that were asked of us from everyone."

Those questions surfaced two weeks ago at Auburn when Steve Spurrier yanked Garcia late in the game after he lost a pair of fumbles. Freshman Connor Shaw came in and threw two interceptions, and the Gamecocks suffered their first loss of the season.

Garcia, who has had a stormy career in Columbia, responded with his finest effort to date.

"Stephen Garcia played the best he's ever played," Spurrier said.

In front of a delirious home crowd, Garcia and the Gamecocks answered every challenge Alabama threw their way. It was the most impressive win in school history, at least by rank, since the Gamecocks began playing in 1892. South Carolina had never defeated a No. 1 team in football in four previous tries; its biggest scalp had been No. 3 North Carolina in 1981.

Garcia completed all nine of his passes in the first half, and three of them went for touchdowns as the Gamecocks led 21-9 at halftime.

But South Carolina got off to a shaky start in the second half. Garcia misplayed the first snap from scrimmage and it bounced toward the end zone, but he recovered it and threw it out of the end zone for a safety.

"I think I hit the goal post," he said. "They said that was my first incompletion of the game."

Alabama then marched down to score a field goal and pull to 21-14, and the momentum was clearly in the Crimson Tide's favor.

Garcia and the Gamecocks (4-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) responded with a 15-play drive that covered 82 yards. More importantly, it chewed up 7:55 off the clock. Garcia connected with favorite targets Alshon Jeffery and Tori Gurley for key third-down conversions, and freshman running back Marcus Lattimore punched it in from the 1 to put the Gamecocks ahead 28-14.

Alabama (5-1, 2-1 SEC) made one last gasp. Darius Hanks hauled in a 51-yard pass from Greg McElroy to pull the Tide to 28-21. After Garcia's attempt to Jeffery was intercepted, Alabama took over at the Gamecocks' 37.

But South Carolina's defense, which had shut down Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and backfield mate Trent Richardson, held again. Alabama coach Nick Saban tried a fake field goal, but the pass fell incomplete.

After taking over, South Carolina drove for its final score. Jeffery made a one-handed catch to add to his highlight reel, and he raced 45 yards to Alabama 6. Three plays later, Lattimore burst through the line to put South Carolina ahead 35-21.

"We probably didn't make a good call on the fake," Saban said. "That was right on the edge of (Jeremy) Shelly's range. It gave them the momentum of the game back."

Ingram finished with 41 yards rushing, and Richardson could muster only 23.

"I don't think guys were ready to come out here," Ingram said. "I think guys thought they could just show up and we'd win and that's not the case at all. We knew that South Carolina was going to be a great team and play great football."

Spurrier, who won SEC titles and a national championship during his Florida days, acknowledged that it was his biggest win since coming to Columbia in 2005.

"We had to play ball today. We played till the end and we looked up and we had beaten No. 1 by a couple of touchdowns," Spurrier said.

Against No. 1

South Carolina beat the nation's top-ranked team for the first time in five tries:

2010 Alabama W, 35-21

2009 Florida L, 24-14

1996 at Florida L, 52-25

1991 at Florida St. L, 38-10

1955 at Maryland L, 27-0

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NAAustin
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NAAustin 10/10/10 - 02:07 am
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I now believe. jmo we just

I now believe. jmo we just took care of slim and none. GO GAMECOCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

GoGators2010
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GoGators2010 10/10/10 - 05:38 am
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Congratulations to the

Congratulations to the Gamecock Nation. Well done!

johnston.cliff
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johnston.cliff 10/10/10 - 06:46 am
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At last, The Coach finally

At last, The Coach finally got through to the team and they all responded at the same time. They've been showing signs this year, but they all acted right at once. Tough defense, well executed offense, recover from mistakes, stay focused for entire game. This is how a Spurrier coached team is expected to behave. If it happens again next week, I expect to see it for the rest of the year.
We've been waiting for this year for a while.
Go Gamecocks, show SEC how to win.

Just My Opinion
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Just My Opinion 10/10/10 - 09:10 am
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LOL! Yup, the Gamecocks took

LOL! Yup, the Gamecocks took care of "slim and none"! THAT is why they still play the game, and not just talk about it, right? Even though Carolina winning doesn't help my Dawgs out (and we still need all the help we can get!), I told my son that even though Carolina's still got a long way to go, I wouldn't mind see them play in the SEC Championship game. As I get older, I realize that there are several parts of a winning team...hardwork, determination, dedication, planning, discipline, and LUCK! In just about any season/game, you can see what's present or missing out of each one of those characteristics. They way I see it, Carolina's "luck" came in the scheduling....Carolina had the week off before the Bama game, and Bama didn't. That's 2 weeks to prepare...and that's okay, that's what they were supposed to do! Congrats to the Gamecocks!

faithson
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faithson 10/10/10 - 10:36 am
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Thought about heading up I-20

Thought about heading up I-20 last nite to five points... boy don't you know they partied hardy in Columbia last nite... they deserved to... great win for the gamecocks.

smartie
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smartie 10/10/10 - 11:40 am
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FINALLY!!! i'm happy for

FINALLY!!! i'm happy for gamecock nation. they've finally shed the stigma of being pathetic losers. i'm certain the popo were busy last night. i'll bet their wasn't a trailer park in the state that didn't have a few drunk and disorderlies cited last night. well, anyway, congratulations! now the rest of the nation doesn't regard you as hopeless losers, anymore. now, you'll be known, not for LOSING, but for being the arrogant, loud-mouthed, uneducated football fans that you are.

csrareader
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csrareader 10/11/10 - 12:48 pm
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Congrats to the Shamecocks...

Congrats to the Shamecocks... great win for the University! Now, the next step is to learn how to win. It was a dangerous situation on the field after the game with players and fans mingling. Also, an unfortunate post-game fight between fans a block from the stadium left one man dead. Come on folks, it's just a football game.

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