It was a real struggle, but South Carolina (8-2, 6-2 SEC) managed to find their way to a home victory over Florida (4-5, 3-4 SEC) in SEC play Saturday night in Columbia. With the win, the Gamecocks keep the pressure on Missouri (9-1, 5-1 SEC) coming down the stretch of the regular season.
Florida’s defense gave it a valiant effort against the Gamecocks but a lack of offensive fire power proved to be the downfall for the Gators. Florida was shut out in the second half, allowing South Carolina to make some big plays to rally from a halftime deficit to hold on for the win. With almost nothing to lose with just under five minutes to play, Florida faked a punt on their side of the field on 4th and 13, and it nearly worked but a pass fell incomplete as the Gamecocks pulled through.
South Carolina’s Connor Shaw passed for 213 yards and a touchdown and avoided throwing an interception in the game. The SEC’s leading rusher, Mike Davis, was limited in his production with just 54 yards. Davis was limited in the second half as well after getting banged up. Florida used Skyler Mornhinweg to try and simply manage the offense that relied heavily on the running game. The few times Mornhinweg was asked to throw he was efficient, but he was unable to rise to the occasion when Florida needed to open things up and move down field, trailing by five points with 2:16 to play. Trying to roll out and extend a play with his feet, Mornhingweg made a costly error by throwing down field. The pass was hauled in by South Carolina’s Jimmy Legree and the Gamecocks worked the clock down to triple zeroes.
South Carolina remains one game back of Missouri in the loss column. With South Carolina now done with SEC play for the season, it is up to Missouri to win their final two games of the year against Ole Miss next week and Texas A&M in the season finale. One loss will drop Missouri in to no better than a tie with South Carolina. By virtue of South Carolina’s head-to-head win a few weeks back, the Gamecocks would go to Atlanta to face Alabama or Auburn in the SEC Championship game.
Florida is now in the difficult situation of having to win their final two games just to be eligible for the postseason. Next week Florida will host Georgia Southern and should be able to pick up the win in that one no matter who is or is not available to play. The steep climb to the postseason will come in the season finale at home against Florida State.