BEASTMODE is back.
A round of applause for Connor Shaw, who came out today and absolutely played lights out. In front of a sold out crowd, Shaw completed 20 straight passes, and the only throw he didn’t complete was his first one of the game. He racked up 249 and threw for two TDs, too.
His 20 completions in a row is good for third on the all-time list in the SEC. Tennessee’s Tee Martin had 24 in a row against USC in 1998, and Connor can try to meet or exceed that next weekend against Kentucky.
After being led onto the field by the suspended D.J. Swearinger, the No. 7 Cocks went three-and-out, then got lucky when Mizzou shanked a punt and Carolina got the ball at the Tigers’ 39-yard line. Sadly, Damiere Byrd fumbled right near the goal line and MU got the ball back.
On the next possession, Shaw took the ball 80 yards to the house, only to have the score called back because of a clipping penalty (the o-line: it still needs help). The first quarter came to a close with South Carolina driving and at the 1-yard line.
The second quarter started with Shaw trying to run the ball in and being denied both times, which was surprising and bad and I don’t understand why Marcus Lattimore didn’t get the ball, but it is what it is. Mizzou continued to struggle, though, and on their next punt, Ace Sanders grabbed the ball and ran it all the way to the 4-line yard, after running into his own teammate and having to break a bunch of tackles.
Lattimore did get the ball then, and he took it in to record his 32nd career rushing touchdown, a school record. On the next possession, Marcus got the ball again, and he scored a touchdown again, giving the Gamecocks a two-score lead. The Tigers finally managed a field goal, cutting the score to 14-3 with less than a minute and a half remaining in the second quarter.
The Cocks had one more score in them, though. Bruce Ellington returned a kick to midfield, and with less than 30 seconds remaining, Sanders scored a touchdown of his own and USC took a 21-3 lead into the half.
Mizzou came out after halftime and continued to do basically nothing against the Gamecocks, letting them run all over the field and allowing the USC defense to have a field day. Buster Anderson hauled in a TD late in the third quarter and Adam Yates put up a field goal with less than five minutes to go in the game. The Tigers finally found the end zone with just 17 seconds left in the game, which was the first red zone TD USC has given up this year. It was clearly much too little, too late, and Carolina came away with a 31-10 victory and kept their undefeated season alive.
Things could have been even worse for Missouri, since the Gamecocks had a couple of missed opportunities. That being said, the Tigers looked pretty much dreadful all day long. I don’t know if they were hampered by QB James Frnaklin’s lingering(?) injury, whrthetr they were too intimidated by the crowd at Williams-Brice, or whether they just had a bad day, but this was not exactly an inspiring performance.
Some analysts had picked Mizzou to upset South Carolina, something Shaw called “disrespectful” after the game. He also said they wanted to prove something, which they definitely did. Even without Swearinger, the defense was dominant and the offense was clicking (with the exception of a few linemen…).
In addition to his stunning day passing, Shaw had 40 yards on 12 carries. Lattimore had 21 carries for 85 yards and the two scores and also had seven catches for 60 yards. Both of those were team highs. Justice Cunningham had only four catches, but they were all in a row and totaled 41 yards. Franklin finished the day 11-of-18 for 92 yards.
Kendial Lawrence had 67 yards on 11 carries and Marcus Lucas had nine receptions for 78 yards and the touchdown to lead the Tigers. The Gamecocks out gained Mizzou 396-255 in total yardage and at one point had more yards on returns than the Tigers did in total.
South Carolina has now beaten two James Franklin’s in one season (Vandy’s coach and Missouri’s QB). We also get possession of the recently created Columbia Cup. The Gamecocks improve to 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the SEC and will travel to Kentucky next weekend. The game will be televised on ESPN2 and kickoff is set for 7 ET.