South Carolina's bowl hopes are back alive after some late theatrics pushed the Gamecocks over Florida 23-20 in overtime.
Steve Spurrier's team looked great in the first quarter. The Gamecocks held the ball for more than 11 minutes of possession and rang up 10 points on drives of 85 yards and 66 yards. Florida reversed things in the second quarter as its running game got going, scoring 10 points of its own to tie things up at the half. The Gamecocks' offensive struggles continued on into the second half, with no drives after the first two going for more than 34 yards. They punted five times, turned it over on downs twice, and missed a field goal in there.
The Gators' offense didn't look all that great either, but they did get a 71-yard touchdown drive in the middle of the third quarter to go up 17-10. It was a couple of special teams blunders by Florida that swung the game. South Carolina blocked a field goal with about three minutes to go a few downs after a holding penalty erased a touchdown run from Treon Harris. South Carolina turned it over on downs, and Florida ran 1:43 off the clock to put it below 40 seconds. Unfortunately for UF, the Gamecocks blocked a punt to take over 34 yards from the end zone. On the fifth play of the drive, Mike Davis fumbled a goal line option pitch into the end zone but fell on it to tie the game.
In overtime, Florida kept things conservative with two Harris runs and a short pass. The Gators failed to get a first down and kicked a field goal to go up 20-17. South Carolina ground out a pair of first downs, and on 1st-and-goal from the four, Dylan Thompson ran into the end zone untouched to seal the win.
The South Carolina defense had one of its best games, holding the resurgent Florida rushing attack to just 4.4 yards per carry and holding Harris to just 5/11 with 60 yards and a touchdown. Harris did run for 111 yards on 20 carries (5.6 YPC), though. Thompson went 22/41 for 206 yards (5.1 YPA), and Davis led the team on the ground with 56 yards on 15 carries (3.7 YPA).
For South Carolina, it's a morale boost for a team that seems to have been drifting this year. The team now just needs to beat South Alabama next week in order to extend the program's bowl streak. This win, combined with a potential win over Clemson, could give the Gamecocks some real momentum heading into next year.
For Florida, it is a crushing loss after it looked like a win going down to under a minute to go on the clock. It wasn't going to be a solid win, as the offense looked pedestrian against the SEC's worst defense, but it still would have kept the team in the East race for at least a few more hours. Instead, Will Muschamp is looking as fired as ever as his team cannot sustain success over any lengthy period of time.