Florida 44, South Carolina 11: Gators make their statement in the National Title Chase

At 7-0 and with victories over Texas A&M, Tennessee and LSU, it’s safe to say that the Florida Gators didn’t need a signature win against South Carolina to impress anyone Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately for the Gamecocks, Florida got one anyway, in a dominating 44-11 victory in the Swamp.

Simply put, Florida was the better team in every facet of the game, and took advantage of several Gamecocks’ miscues to put up points early, before breaking the game open late.

For South Carolina, those miscues started on quite literally the very first play from scrimmage, when quarterback Connor Shaw dropped back in the pocket and had the ball stripped from behind by Florida defensive back Loucheiz Purifoy. Two plays later Jeff Driskel found Jordan Reed in the end zone, and the Gators had their first points of the game a mere seconds into the contest. Florida would score two more touchdowns before the half off two South Carolina turnovers, leading 21-6 at the break, despite accounting for only 29 yards of total offense.

In the second half Florida took the more traditional approach of lining up and simply smashing the Gamecocks in the mouth, but it was equally effective at putting points on the scoreboard. With Trey Burton often lined up at quarterback, and with offensive coordinator Brent Pease keeping the Gamecocks on their toes all night, the Gators put up another 16 third quarter points to cruise to the win.

For South Carolina, it was a brutal loss for a club that just two weeks ago believed they had enough to compete with the SEC’s best, and potentially play for a National Championship. Instead, after a loss to LSU last week and Saturday’s beat down in the Swamp, it appears as though the Gamecocks will end up on the outside looking in of the SEC title race. Their BCS National Championship dreams died in Gainesville Saturday afternoon as well.

And although those title dreams are now dead, South Carolina has no one to blame but themselves.  In addition to the three turnovers, the Gamecocks just couldn’t get anything going offensively, and finished with a staggering 36 yards rushing on 26 attempts. The game also finished with Shaw, South Carolina’s quarterback on the bench with an apparent injury.

As for Florida, well, it was another impressive win, as the Gators continue to prove that they are back amongst college football’s elite teams. While the offense had a relatively quiet afternoon Saturday, the Gators are still undefeated, and still control their own destiny in the SEC and BCS National Championship race as well.

Speaking of that SEC East title race, get ready for some excitement next Saturday when Florida plays Georgia in Jacksonville. Entering the “Cocktail Party” the Dawgs have just one loss in league play (to South Carolina) meaning that the winner of that game will have the edge in the race to Atlanta. Simply put, if the winner of Florida-Georgia wins the rest of their league games (and looking at both of their schedules, they should), they will be the SEC East champs.

Which means for Florida and head coach Will Muschamp, as exciting as Saturday’s win over South Carolina was for the Gators, there’s still a lot of work to do.

Welcome to life in the SEC.

For all his opinion, insight and articles on college football, please follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.


About Aaron Torres

Aaron Torres works for Fox Sports, and was previously a best-selling author of the book 'The Unlikeliest Champion.' He currently uses Aaron Torres Sports to occasionally weigh-in on the biggest stories from around sports. He has previously done work for such outlets as Sports Illustrated, SB Nation and Slam Magazine.