Kenny McKinley: In his final game at Williams-Brice Stadium, McKinley surpassed Sterling Sharpe as the Gamecocks’ all-time leader in receiving yardage on his first catch. McKinley finished with seven receptions for 130 yards and now has caught a pass in 40 consecutive games.
Eric Norwood: The junior linebacker had a career-high three sacks to pull within six of USC’s all-time record held by Andrew Provence. Norwood also had a game-high nine tackles.
Darian Stewart: The Huntsville, Ala., native had seven tackles from his ‘spur’ position, including two sacks and three tackles for loss. Stewart also added a pass breakup.
What went right
USC did not commit any offensive penalties, believed to be the offense’s first penalty-free game in Steve Spurrier’s four seasons. ... Freshman tailback Eric Baker carried nine times for a career-high 59 yards. ... USC had a season-high three interceptions, one each by Jordin Lindsey, Stoney Woodson and Addison Williams.
What went wrong
The Gamecocks were whistled for four defensive penalties, including a pair of pass-interference calls on the Razorbacks’ final touchdown drive. ... Quarterback Stephen Garcia never seemed to find a rhythm, misfiring on six consecutive throws in the first half following a completion to McKinley on a hitch route.
The Gamecocks’ sixth scoring drive lasted longer (6:22) than their first five scoring drives combined (5:55). Leading by 13, USC marched 72-yards on 11 plays — all of them rushes — before Mike Davis scored on a 13-yard touchdown run.
Backup free safety Akeem Auguste has a sprained ankle but is expected to play against the Gators.
With another win, USC would appear to be a lock for the Outback Bowl, which gets first dibs on an Eastern Division team after the Capital One and Cotton bowls pick among the SEC schools not in BCS bowls. Outback officials remember how many USC fans made the trip to Tampa after the 2000 and ’01 regular seasons, and seem to like the idea of Garcia playing in his hometown.
In addition to Chris Culliver’s automatic suspension for the first half against Florida for his ejection for fighting in the final minutes against Arkansas, Spurrier said the safety also would face internal punishment. “He feels bad about it. He doesn’t know why he did it. He has no idea what made him throw a punch at the guy, and I don’t have any idea, either,” Spurrier said. “It was embarrassing to all of us, but we’ll handle it and move on.” ... The oft-suspended Chris Hail, who sat out the Arkansas game for missing classes and team activities, will rejoin the team this week on a probationary status. “One miss and he’s out again,” Spurrier said. ... Fifth-year senior Jamon Meredith, who did not start because of a sprained ankle, played nearly half the game at left guard. Meredith was in for the long touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
Florida quarterback Tim Tebow set a school record with five rushing touchdowns and threw for a career-high 304 yards last year in a 51-31 win against USC, a performance that helped the left-hander win the Heisman Trophy. According to the Heisman Trophy Trust, Saturday’s game will mark the first time a Heisman winner will play against a team coached by a Heisman recipient.
— Joseph Person