Saturday, October 9, 2010
Final: S. Carolina 35, Alabama 21
By Chris Low
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- South Carolina snapped Alabama’s 19-game winning streak and sent the defending national championship packing Saturday at Williams-Brice Stadium with a 35-21 victory that reverberated throughout the SEC.
Here’s an instant analysis from the game:
How the game was won: South Carolina scored touchdowns on its first three possessions, jumping out to a 21-3 lead, and then came up with several big defensive stands in the second half. The Gamecocks were able to stay out of third-and-long, and South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier kept the Alabama defense off balance the entire game with some of his vintage play calling.
Turning point: The start of the second half was about as shaky as it gets for South Carolina, and Alabama pulled within 21-14. But the Gamecocks answered with a 15-play, 82-yard touchdown drive, capped by Marcus Lattimore's 1-yard scoring run, to make it a two-touchdown game again.
Stat of the game: South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia missed just three passes the entire game. He finished 17-of-20 for 201 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. He opened the game hitting his first nine passes.
Player of the game: South Carolina sophomore receiver Alshon Jeffery was sensational. He made big play after big play for the Gamecocks, and none was bigger than his one-handed catch down the sideline to set up the Gamecocks’ final touchdown. He finished with seven catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
Unsung hero: The South Carolina offensive line has taken a lot of abuse. But the Gamecocks’ first-year offensive line coach, Shawn Elliott, had those guys ready to play Saturday, and they played one of their better (and gutsier) games in a long time.
What it means: It’s the first time Alabama has lost an SEC regular-season game since the end of the 2007 season. The Western Division race all of a sudden looks a lot more interesting, and the Crimson Tide all of a sudden look a lot more vulnerable. South Carolina, meanwhile, takes a huge step forward in the Eastern Division race after defeating a No. 1-ranked team for the first time in school history. There’s still a whole half of a season to play, but this is easily the best chance the Gamecocks have had to get to Atlanta and play for the SEC championship.