There was no hangover effect for No. 14 South Carolina (7-2, 5-2 SEC) this week. After handing Missouri their first loss of the season last week on the road, the Gamecocks returned home to face Mississippi State (4-4, 1-3 SEC). Although they fell behind early, the Gamecocks never let this one get away from them as they scored 17 straight point before halftime and then outscored the Bulldogs 17-0 in the third quarter in what ended up as a 34-16 victory for South Carolina.
Last week’s hero, Connor Shaw, was not all that accurate but he made the most of the completions he did have. Shaw completed just 10 of 20 attempts but picked up four touchdowns and 147 yards out of those 10 completions. Shaq Roland had two of those touchdowns in the first half. On the ground South Carolina had Mike Davis rush for a game-high 128 yards but Davis did not reach the end zone Saturday afternoon. It was the second game in a row Davis did not have a rushing touchdown after starting the year with at least one touchdown rush in every game of the year.
South Carolina was actually out-gained in this game, with Mississippi State’s offense recording 385 yards to South Carolina’s 307, but five Mississippi State turnovers killed any momentum that could have been had. Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott was intercepted three times.
South Carolina remains in a decent position as far as the complicated SEC East race is concerned. South Carolina has now clinched their sixth winning regular season in a row. On the other side, Mississippi State and head coach Dan Mullen may be starting to feel the pressure. At 4-4 overall, Mississippi State needs to win two games against Texas A&M, Alabama, Arkansas and Ole Miss to become bowl eligible. That certainly will be easier said than done, and it is not all that easy to say.
Could this be Mullen’s final year leading Mississippi State? Mullen is now 33-26 at Mississippi State, which is not exactly terrible when you look back through the program’s history. But the bottom line is Mississippi State is in danger of being left behind in the SEC West with Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Auburn and Ole Miss all at the top or showing strides of progress, and who knows what the future holds for Arkansas with Bret Bielema.
Things could get interesting.