Vanderbilt South Carolina Football

South Carolina defensive back JaMarcus King (7) and Rashad Fenton (16) tackle Vanderbilt wide receiver Kalija Lipscomb (16) during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

Sean Rayford

COLUMBIA -- After a dominating 15-9 win over Tennessee, the bye week allowed for visions of a ferocious defense in the minds of Gamecock fans.

And yet, some games just aren't meant to play out that way.

Vanderbilt marched down the field on their first drive to take a 7-0 lead. A drive that took 2:54 off the clock sent the signal of a long afternoon for the Gamecock defense. It led to a situation this team is all too familiar with: a chance to clinch a win late.

"You got to give them credit too," Coach Will Muschamp said after the game. "They've only given up 10 sacks all year."

The defense that recorded seven sacks last time out against the Vols was unable to record a sack and had just one tackle for loss.

"Schematically, they do a very good job of getting the ball out," Muschamp said.

The Commodores ran 72 plays and gained 6.1 yards per play. Overall, the Gamecock defense allowed 27 first downs and 440 total yards of offense. Numbers are important and stats tell the story of a football game.

However, the numbers have to be viewed in the tone of the game.

South Carolina and Vanderbilt went back and forth. It was a game that had its share of momentum swings, penalties, and tough breaks for both sides.

And yet, as the sun set behind Williams-Brice Stadium, it seemed destined that the defense would be on the field with the game on the line.

North Carolina State and Tennessee were both games that came down to the final seconds and a defensive stand.

Fast forward to Saturday night and the Gamecock defense had to do it again.

Those numbers mentioned earlier: 440 total yards, 27 first downs. They didn't matter on fourth-and-3 with 1:13 left in the game.

On their own 40-yard line, the Gamecock defense forced two straight incompletions to ice the game. Another game and another game-saving stand when it mattered most.

We can look at the statistics and how many tackles were missed, interceptions dropped, etc. But for the third time in eight games, the Gamecock defense tightened when the pressure was at its highest.

South Carolina is 6-2 (4-2 SEC) and headed to Athens for a big showdown Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on CBS.

Georgia big favorite

As expected, No. 2 Georgia opened as double-digit favorites over South Carolina for Saturday's game at Sanford Stadium (92,746). The Bulldogs (8-0, 5-0 SEC) are favored by 21.5-points over the Gamecocks (6-2, 4-2 SEC) according to

The home-standing Bulldogs can clinch at least a share of the SEC East with a victory. The Gamecocks can improve to five wins in the East should they win, a mark that USC has not attained since Connor Shaw was behind center.

Carolina last won in Athens in 2011, a game made famous by two defensive scores by Melvin Ingram, including a 68-yard touchdown run on a fake punt. Georgia has won the last two meetings with the Gamecocks, with Carolina's last victory being the 2014 contest, a 38-35 decision in Columbia over then-No. 6 Georgia.

Florida kickoff at noon

 The South Carolina-Florida game will kick off at noon on Saturday, Nov. 11, in Columbia. The SEC Eastern Division showdown will be televised nationally on CBS.

Knott gets SEC honor

Center Alan Knott was selected as the Southeastern Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week.


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