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Florida 44, South Carolina 11: The Gators Take Command in the SEC East

The win might not have been quite as convincing as it looked on the scoreboard. But for the Gamecocks, it was a knockout blow

Chris Trotman

Let's start off by acknowledging that the score in this game is a little deceptive. Florida is clearly a better football team than South Carolina, and no one can credibly argue otherwise. And the difference between the Gators and the Gamecocks is certainly a noticeable one.

But South Carolina contributed mightily to the lopsided margin. Two of Florida's first-half touchdown drives covered a combined total of three yards. At one point, Florida had 29 yards -- and 21 points. Florida ended up scoring 44 points on 183 yards -- they were actually outgained by South Carolina (191 yards). But Connor Shaw lost a crucial fumble and the special teams unit for South Carolina was incapable of holding onto the ball, and the Gamecocks quickly found themselves in a 21-3 hole from which they never completely recovered.

The game brings a degree of clarity to what had remained a somewhat muddled SEC East race. It's Florida. If the Gators can defeat Georgia next week in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party -- and there's no reason they shouldn't be favored -- then Will Muschamp's team will wrap up the SEC East and be headed to Atlanta. Whether they can win the SEC Championship Game with that offense is another question, though we should note that Florida didn't do anything spectacular on offense because they didn't have to.

For Spurrier and the Gamecocks, it's the end of a two-week stretch that eliminates them from the national championship conversation and leaves their SEC East hopes hanging by such a thin thread that it's not even worth talking about. The goal now should be the second 11-win season in school history (counting the bowl game) and turning the largest two-year win total in the program's 120 years into the largest three-year total. None of that is anything to scoff at, particularly since Spurrier has made doing things that have never been done before the animating force behind his tenure in Columbia.

It still raises questions, though, about whether Spurrier has hit something of a ceiling at South Carolina. Granted, nine or more wins a season and an SEC East title every now and then is clearly better than where the Gamecocks were when Spurrier climbed on board. But there was the promise this year of so much more, and every bit of it was destroyed Saturday in the Swamp. And South Carolina was too busy helping the demolition move forward to stop it.