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South Carolina vs. Tennessee 2016 final score: Gamecocks knock off Volunteers, 24-21

Will Muschamp’s one step closer to going bowling with South Carolina.

NCAA Football: Tennessee at South Carolina Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

In a game that was hard to watch at times, the South Carolina Gamecocks picked up a great home win over the depleted #18 Tennessee Volunteers. Will Muschamp’s defense answered the bell with three turnovers, including one by Jamarcus King late in the fourth quarter to seal the game for South Carolina. Offensively, the Gamecocks worked the clock with the running of Rico Dowdle with his 27 carries for 127 yards and a score. Jake Bentley managed the game well, going for 167 yards and two touchdowns on 15/20 passing.

After the teams traded 1-yard touchdown plunges in the first quarter, the Garnet and Black asserted themselves with a ten-point run that put the beat-up Volunteers in a bad spot early in the second half. A 100-yard kickoff return by Evan Berry gave the Vols some life, but the Gamecocks answered right back with a 35-yard Bentley pass for a score. A Josh Dobbs passing score with 7:03 to go cut the deficit to three points, and a couple of stops gave Tennessee one last chance to tie the game but the 58-yard kick by Aaron Medley was short and gave South Carolina the win.

Three Takeaways:

1. Tennessee is done. Despite a valiant shorthanded effort, its third SEC loss of the season will be a tough pill to swallow for a team that had such high expectations entering the season. Your star players have to show up for games like this, and Dobbs throwing for 161 yards and two picks can’t happen in this environment.

2. Muschamp could go bowling in his first season. He’s done a pretty decent job with the roster he had to make the team somewhat competitive in the SEC East, and his defense showed up against a talented Tennessee team. Now, he has to do a tremendous job in recruiting and getting his offense squared away, but you have to like the progress South Carolina is making under Muschamp.

3. The SEC East it a complete dumpster fire. Kentucky is a game back in the East. That’s where we’re at now. Tennessee being disappointing has really hurt the division as all the teams are fighting for now is to be Alabama’s sparring partner before it goes off to the College Football Playoff. It’s hard to see how this side of the league can turn it around in a short period of time.