It was billed as a clash of heavyweights between top contenders for the SEC East title and a stepping stone to a possible national championship run. South Carolina got the memo, but someone forgot to remind Georgia of those implications, as the Gamecocks cruised to a 35-7 win and their third consecutive victory against the Bulldogs in an utter demolition.
Here's the story from Columbia, S.C.:
It was over when: South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw hit wide receiver D.L. Moore for a 62-yard gain on third-and-11 early in the third quarter. Moore slipped behind the Georgia secondary and fought tacklers all the way to the Bulldogs' 1-yard line. Running back Marcus Lattimore plunged into the end zone on the next play to give the Gamecocks a 28-0 lead.
Game ball: South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney was an unblockable monster for a defense that held Georgia to 224 yards and seven points. Clowney registered one sack, and he consistently drew double teams that freed up his comrades on the defensive front to terrorize Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray.
Game ball, part II: Shaw's numbers don't pop off the page, but he continues to do a little bit of everything -- making him a nightmare for opposing defenses to keep in check. Shaw completed 6 of 10 passes for 162 and a pair of scores, and he rushed 14 times for 78 yards and a touchdown. Better yet, he didn't commit any turnovers.
Key stat: Murray came into the game averaging 275 passing yards per game, yet he completed only 11 passes for 109 yards. The freshman running back duo of Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall, who combined for 294 rushing yards and five touchdowns last week against Tennessee, managed just 76 total yards against the Gamecocks defense.
Hot start: The Gamecocks delivered the bulk of their damage right at the start in what was an electric atmosphere at Williams-Brice Stadium. South Carolina took the opening kickoff and marched 76 yards to a touchdown in just five plays. The South Carolina defense forced a Georgia three-and-out, and the Gamecocks went on a 69-yard march for an early 14-0 lead. The Bulldogs' second drive again took just three plays, only this time the Bulldogs' punt was returned 70 yards to the end zone by South Carolina wide receiver Ace Sanders.
The Gamecocks built a 21-0 lead 10 minutes into the first quarter of play, and they didn't look back.
What it means: South Carolina joins Florida as Saturday's big winners after both programs notched statement wins. Their Oct. 20 showdown in Gainesville, Fla., could go a long way in deciding the SEC East race, but the Gamecocks must first deal with next week's trip to Baton Rouge to face a talented LSU team. Georgia is now behind the Gamecocks in the race to Atlanta, but the Bulldogs have only one ranked team left on the schedule. It wouldn't be the first time Georgia lost the meeting with South Carolina and still found a way to win the East; it happened last fall.