Maybe South Carolina can't play without the pressure. Maybe the Gamecocks have to have their backs against the wall before they can throw some switch and win the game. But, for whatever reason, South Carolina needed another come-from-behind victory with more than its fair share of drama to remain alive in the SEC East race.
This time, it was Florida who lost to the Gamecocks after a 13-0 South Carolina run in the second half. The 19-14 victory means the Gamecocks will go to the SEC Championship Game if Missouri loses either of its next two games, at Ole Miss and against Texas A&M in Columbia. In all likelihood, the chase for the SEC East title will come down to the final game of the season.
It wasn't easy. The Florida running game went over and around the Gamecocks' defense for most of the game. Despite a late improvement slowing down the ground game by South Carolina, and the fact that Florida had to spend much of the last few minutes of the game throwing, Florida still ended the day with 200 yards rushing on 41 carries, an average of 4.9 yards a carry. Coaches tried to shield Skyler Mornhinweg from having to do too much in his first game as starter -- in the third quarter, he was still 3-of-3 for 11 yards -- but he played well, ending up 10-of-13 for 107 yards, and not all of the incompletions were his fault.
But one was. In the Gators' next-to-last drive, with the ball on the South Carolina 48, Mornhinweg rolled out and tried to thread a needle -- resulting in a Jimmy Legree pick that allowed the Gamecocks to chew up all but 12 seconds of the clock. With the ball at the 1-yard line and no timeouts left, Florida did the only thing it could -- running a variant of the Cal band play that was essentially doomed to failure.
Florida now faces a pretty dire situation. Assuming a win against Georgia Southern next week, the Gators would have to beat Florida State in Gainesville at the end of the season simply to keep their streak of winning seasons alive. The last time Florida didn't have a winning record was 1987; the last time Gainesville experienced a losing season was in 1979. Will Muschamp might indeed survive this season, but failing to make a bowl would land him firmly on the hot seat for 2014. Now, it's Florida with its back to the wall, needing a lot more than a great half of football to turn things around.