- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
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The game couldn’t have started any worse for South Carolina. On the first play from scrimmage, Florida sacked Gamecocks quarterback Connor Shaw, forcing a fumble. The Gators recovered and scored three plays later to take an early 7-0 lead. The play set the tone for the rest of the game, which ended as a 44-11 Florida victory.
In all, the Gamecocks turned the ball over four times, and Florida turned the miscues into 17 points. On the other hand, UF’s offense wasn’t overwhelming, but it was efficient. Quarterback Jeff Driskel finished 11-of-16 for 93 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Still, the key to the victory was the Gators’ defense. In addition to forcing four turnovers, Florida held South Carolina to just 36 yards on the ground, and both Shaw and backup quarterback Dylan Thompson threw for under 100 yards and each had less than 50 percent completion percentage.
It was over when: With the way Florida played in the second half, the game was essentially over at halftime, but the final nail in the coffin came when Driskel hit Frankie Hammond on a 6-yard touchdown pass late in the third quarter to put the Gators up 37-8. It was Driskel’s fourth touchdown toss of the game.
Game ball goes to: Florida dominated in all facets of the game, but the game ball has to go to the Gators’ special teams. They recovered a fumble on a South Carolina kick return in the second quarter that resulted in a touchdown. They blocked a field goal. UF’s Caleb Sturgis drilled a 42-yarder on his only attempt, and Kyle Christy averaged 54.3 yards on seven punts.
Stat of the game: At the conclusion of the game, South Carolina had more total yards than Florida, yet lost 44-11. The Gators finished with just 183 total yards in the game, but turnovers and special teams made it easy for the Florida offense.
Unsung hero: Florida is a team built around its defense, but UF offensive coordinator Brent Pease deserves credit for his work on Saturday. The Gators finished with less than 200 total yards, but they scored touchdowns when they got in the red zone, and they put together an impressive drive to start the second half, scripted by Pease himself.
What it means for Florida: Ranked No. 2 in the debut of the BCS rankings, Florida continues to prove it’s an elite team, and depending on what happens in the Alabama-Tennessee game, it has a chance to pass the Crimson Tide for the top spot next week with Saturday’s victory. The question now is can the Gators stay up for the Georgia game next week? A win there means they are headed back to Atlanta for the SEC championship.
What it means for South Carolina: When the Gamecocks blew out Georgia two weeks ago in Columbia, S.C., everybody thought they were on track to win the SEC East and compete for a BCS title appearance. After a close loss at LSU last weekend, the wheels fell off on Saturday. South Carolina has to bounce back with games against Tennessee and Arkansas coming up, but fortunately, it gets both the Volunteers and the Razorbacks at home.
3hJosh Moyer and Dan Murphy