So long, Top 5 ranking and undefeated season.
After being called one of the nation’s trendy teams by Kirk Herbstreit, No. 3 South Carolina fell to No. 9 LSU by a score of 23-21 tonight in Baton Rouge. The Cocks were outplayed and seemingly outcoached all night long, as they couldn’t manufacture much of anything on offense, and the defense was nothing to write home about either.
Unlike last week, the Gamecocks did not get on the board first, nor did they come out looking very fired up. If you weren’t paying attention, you might’ve even missed the Cocks’ first possession, because they went three-and-out so quickly. The Tigers didn’t do a whole lot either, but they did put up a field goal after a 68-yard drive to take a 3-0 lead with five and a half minutes left in the first.
LSU QB Zach Mettenberger was interepted by Jimmy Legree on their next possession, and Legree got thisclose to the end zone. Ace Sanders then made a catch in the end zone to put USC up 7-3, and I hoped things might be looking up. They did, kind of. The Tigers missed a field goal, and then I really thought things might be going the Gamecocks’ way.
Carolina managed to hang on to the 7-3 lead going into the half, trading punts with LSU for the better part of the second half. The Tigers got the ball to start the third quarter, and an almost-four-minute drive resulted in a touchdown and gave them a 10-3 lead.
The Cocks punted on their first possession, but found the end zone on their second, thanks to a nifty two-yard run by Marcus Lattimore. That gave South Carolina a 14-10 lead with just over 20 minutes left in the game.
LSU then scored two field goals and another TD in the fourth quarter, putting them up 23-14 and taking almost all of the wind oout of the Gamecocks’ sails (not that there was much to begin with). Connor Shaw was picked off a third of the way throught the uarter, but he managed to rally the troops on the next possession and found Bruuuuuuuuuuce Ellington in the end zone to make the score 23-21.
USC then attempted to onside kick, but Landon Ard (who was wearing glasses, which was bizarre) kicked it out of bounds, so it was the Tigers’ ball anyway. Carolina did get it back once more, but with only 35 seconds left, they were unable to do much of anything. Shaw was intercepted again on his last second desperation throw, and LSU came away with the two-point victory.
The play – and the play calling – for the Cocks was pretty terrible tonight. Shaw, Lattimore, and the entire defense struggled to do much of anything, while the Tigers were able to run, block, and play well enough to win. Also, USC’s punting is still terrible. That’s really all there is to say about that.
Shaw finished the night 19-of-34 for 177 yards, two touchdowns, and two picks. Mettenberger was 12-of-25 for 148 yards and an interception. Lattimore had 13 carries for 35 yards and a TD and Sanders had five catches for 49 yards and a touchdown to lead the Gamecocks. Ace also had a 50-yard punt return. Jeremy Hill, in a breakout performance, had 17 carries for 124 yards and two TDs and Jarvis Landry had four receptions for 55 yards to lead the Tigers.
The Carolina D was effectively shut down by LSU, as Mettenberger was sacked just once, by Shaq Wilson. Clowney had six tackles, but was taken out of the game at times because the Tigers were double teaming him. After the game, he had this to say:
“Some guys came out to play but some guys didn’t. It may be because they were scared. We will address that in practice. We can’t come out against Florida like that.”
Clowney was reportedly one of the Gamecocks who talked trash to Mettenberger and LSU before the game, which was not a good choice. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again.
South Carolina no longer owns the longest winning streak in the nation (it was 10 games), and the Cocks will obviously drop in the rankings, though they’ll likely still be in the Top 10. Both the Georgia game and this one were “the biggest game of the season,” and now next weekend’s showdown with Florida has become the biggest. If South Carolina wins, their division/conference/national title hopes stay alive. If not, they will be out of the national title race and almost certainly out of the division/conference title race. Next weekend’s game will be televised, though the time and channel are TBA.