Lorenzo Ward’s defense showed up in a stingy mood, so he was happy.
Mike Davis zipped past the 1,000-yard mark for the season, so he was happy.
A homecoming sellout crowd watched as South Carolina won its 15th in a row in Williams-Brice Stadium, so it was happy.
Steve Spurrier acknowledged it was “neat” to remain in the thick of SEC East race after a 34-16 win against floundering Mississippi State, but he was less than happy.
“Obviously, our offense sputtered,” the Gamecocks’ coach said. “It was not a good day for our offense. I think we need to go back to getting a little bit more physical in practice. Seems like we’re a little too soft, but fortunately our defense was there.”
South Carolina forced a season-high five turnovers as it moved to 7-2 overall and 5-2 in the SEC heading into next week’s open date.
“We had a lot more yards, a lot more plays. We were better on third down than they were, better on fourth down, but if you’re going to turn the ball over five times, go a minus-five in turnover ratio on the road in the SEC, your percentage to win is about one percent,” Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said.
Efficiency was the name of the game for South Carolina, which ran 54 plays to Mississippi State’s 78 and gained 307 yards to the Bulldogs’ 385 but made all the day’s important plays.
Davis, a sophomore running back from Atlanta, became the eighth Gamecock in history to gain more than 1,000 yards in a season, putting up 128 yards on 15 carries to give him 1,058 for the year, and quarterback Connor Shaw tied a career-high with four touchdowns out of 10 completions.
The Gamecocks fell behind 7-0 in the first quarter and totaled 13 yards in the second quarter, but took advantage of turnovers on two of Mississippi State’s first three second-half possessions and led 34-10 after Elliott Fry hit his second field goal of the game, a 37-yarder with 2:07 remaining in the third quarter.
The Gamecocks were 1-of-11 on third down.
“The only way you win with that is when the defense forces (five) turnovers,” Shaw said.
Wide receiver Shaq Roland was the only offensive star of the day other than Davis and Shaw, catching two touchdown passes in the first quarter.
“We hit a few good ones, hit some touchdown passes, fortunately,” Spurrier said. “Third downs, we were pretty sorry and overall we were very sorry. Mississippi State had a good plan and they got the best of our offense today, but it’s a team sport.”
After allowing a nine-play, 60-yard touchdown drive on the Bulldogs’ first possession, South Carolina’s defense held Mississippi State to two scores in 13 possessions.
“We knew exactly what they were doing beforehand,” said Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott, who threw for 235 yards and rushed for 78. “We went down (and scored), and that’s how the entire game should have went. We hurt ourselves. The first drive should have been like the rest of the game.”
Instead, Mississippi State couldn’t keep from giving the ball to the Gamecocks the rest of way as they lost their seventh in a row to South Carolina.
“We didn’t squander the opportunities,” Spurrier said. “That’s about the only good thing you can say.”
MSU: Prescott 1 run (Sobiesk kick), 8:46.
USC: Roland 14 pass from Shaw (Fry kick), 6:23.
USC: Roland 43 pass from Shaw (Fry kick), 1:20.
USC: FG Fry 44, 11:25.
MSU: FG Sobiesk 38, 4:15.
USC: Byrd 6 pass from Shaw (Fry kick), 12:54.
USC: Adams 4 pass from Shaw (Fry kick), 7:52.
USC: FG Fry 37, 2:07.
MSU: Prescott 11 run (pass failed), 5:38.
|Time of Possession||33:46||26:14|
RUSHING: Mississippi St., Prescott 15-78, Perkins 12-40, J. Robinson 6-24, Lewis 1-6, Shumpert 1-2. South Carolina, Davis 15-128, P.Cooper 6-23, Carson 6-18, J.Smith 4-5, Shaw 3-(minus 14).
PASSING: Mississippi St., Prescott 28-43-3-235. South Carolina, Shaw 10-20-0-147.
RECEIVING: Mississippi St., R.Johnson 7-53, Lewis 7-45, Wilson 3-40, J.Robinson 3-34, Perkins 3-29, M.Johnson 3-15, Shumpert 1-13, Samuel 1-6. South Carolina, Roland 2-57, Davis 2-26, Byrd 2-25, Carson 1-24, Ellington 1-6, Anderson 1-5, Adams 1-4.