South Carolina Defeats Vanderbilt: Gamecocks Dominate but Survive to Beat the Commodores

By M. Shannon Smallwood
South Carolina Gamecocks Look Amazing and Terrible in Win Over Vanderbilt Commodores
Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Well … the craziest SEC game of the day in College Football wasn’t the one in College Station. It was due east about 1000 miles in Columbia as the South Carolina Gamecocks looked amazing and putrid at the same time in a 35-25 victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores.

You kind of knew Steve Spurrier was going to come out guns blazing after the loss to the Georgia Bulldogs last week and boy did he ever. Connor Shaw looked like Johnny Unitas and Jadeveon Clowney had his defense playing the best it had all season. Just a mere 20 minutes into the game, the Gamecocks held a 28-0 lead and seemed poised to blow the doors off the Commodores en route to the resurrection of Spurrier’s most beloved team.

But up 35-10 with 10 minutes to go in the third quarter, something went south and sour fast for the Gamecocks. The next 25 minutes would be the most frustrated this guy has ever seen Spurrier and that is saying a lot considering the man who never says die gave up with six minutes to go in Athens last week.

The defense that could do no wrong for the first half single handedly tried to push Vandy’s Wesley Tate into the Heisman Trophy race in the second. To say it was bizarre would be an understatement. How can a team like South Carolina dominate and yet have to survive the clock running out to win a game? For the game, South Carolina totalled 33 First Downs, was 11-17 on Third Downs and picked up 578 Total Yards. On the flip side of the ball, Vandy had 14 First Downs (three at halftime), was 2-12 on Third Downs and only had 270 Total Yards.

But when the Gamecocks needed a play, Shaw was there to deliver once again. Tonight’s performance by the senior quarterback was a perfect example of why Spurrier loves him so much. Shaw was 21-29 for 284 yards and three scored and had 19 rushes for 84 yards including 14 late to get South Carolina off their own goal line and another two yards to keep the clock moving in the fourth. He isn’t the flashiest of quarterbacks, but he knows how to get the job done.

So in what was a dominating win it was South Carolina’s ability to survive that was the key story here. Just when you think Spurrier has turned the corner in Columbia, his players through a finish like this for the second straight week out there to leave you scratching your head.

M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association. Follow him @woodysmalls.

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