The most impressive thing about the opening drive was that it was a combination of the pass and the run with Connor Shaw hitting two passes for twenty yards or more. After a long Malcolm Mitchell kick-off return, the Gamecocks defense made their presence felt by batting an Aaron Murray pass at the line of scrimmage and turning it into an interception. The Gamecocks then drove 11 plays for 69 yards running the ball six times and finishing off the drive with another TD pass.
After a three and out from Georgia, Ace Sanders took a punt return to the house and that would be all she wrote. For all intents and purposes the game was over at the end of the first quarter.
Georgia had it’s chances as they held the Gamecocks scoreless from 5:18 in the first quarter until 8:30 in the third quarter. The difference was the Gamecocks defense. The pass rush and the interior run containment for the Gamecocks was the difference maker. Georgia’s offense came into the game averaging over 500 yards of offense but the Gamecocks defensive line simply dominated Georgia’s offensive line and didn’t allow Georgia to have time to get into a rhythm on offense.
While it was the defense that was the difference maker, a workman like performance by Connor Shaw was another key. Shaw was 6/10 for 162 yards passing with two TDs and he also ran the ball for 78 yards and a TD. Maybe the most impressive thing about Shaw is that he simply didn’t make mistakes. He didn’t put the ball on the ground (despite running it a lot), he didn’t put his defense into bad situations and he made the right decisions on when to run the football.
For Georgia, not only was their offensive line dominated by South Carolina’s defensive line but the Georgia defense came unglued early in the fourth. The Georgia defense had already missed several assignments earlier in the game that proved disastrous but on the drive that put South Carolina up by 28, they committed three penalties worth 25 yards including a pivotal off-side call on 4th and one. Not to take anything away from South Carolina because they executed their game plan flawlessly in the first quarter, and throughout the game, but this Georgia defense looked like they never had their head in the game.
As impressive of a victory as this was for South Carolina. And it was impressive. It was equally disappointing for Georgia. This makes three straight wins for the Gamecocks over Georgia which puts them firmly in control of the budding rivalry. More importantly for South Carolina it establishes them as a legit contender for the SEC Title and thus the National Championship.