A new head coach after a Hall-of-Famer resigned midseason, one of the SEC’s worst offenses going against a Top 25 defense and already on the worst SEC losing streak since a winless season in 1999. South Carolina had enough going against it without adding more hurdles to clear.
The Gamecocks did it anyway.
USC won wearing black uniforms for the first time in seven tries on Saturday, breaking a streak that had stretched since 2009. Since wearing black pants in the season-opener that year and winning, USC had lost to Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Auburn and Tennessee while wearing black jerseys or pants (and sometimes both).
The all-black looked sharp with pink trimmings added for breast cancer awareness, and finally took part in a win. The Gamecocks last trotted out the blacks against the Volunteers in 2014, and blew a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter to lose in overtime.
The uniforms – and playing “Hells Bells” on third down – were Shawn Elliott’s idea.
“I think the uniform was (going to be) garnet-on-garnet. That’s what we heard,” Pharoh Cooper said. “(The blacks) turned the energy up in the locker room.”
Michigan added another chapter to the book of epic collapses by dropping a punt with 10 seconds left on Saturday, leading to a game-winning Michigan State scoop-and-score. The last time the Wolverines suffered something like that at home was against Appalachian State in 2007.
Elliott was a Mountaineers assistant coach that day, but he said the Wolverines loss didn’t add anything to his special Saturday at USC.
Elliott joined Rex Enright, Warren Giese, Jim Carlen, Richard Bell, Sparky Woods and Steve Spurrier as USC coaches who won their first game. Marvin Bass, Paul Dietzel, Joe Morrison, Brad Scott and Lou Holtz did not.
Linebacker T.J. Holloman was ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit in the second quarter. Because he sat out the second half, he is eligible for the full Texas A&M game.
It appears that Elliott Fry has taken the national lead in field-goal attempts. Fry attempted six on Saturday, making four, to give him 21 for the season.
Elliott led the team through the Gamecock Walk, stopping to kiss wife, Summer, and then high-fived or hugged every player as they passed.
Spurrier’s usual pregame, “It’s time for Carolina football!” on the videoboard was deleted. Elliott declined a request to do his own … but carried a visor in his outstretched hand as he led the team onto the field.
Saturday was the first time since 2007 that USC was not in the Top 25 when playing Vanderbilt. The Commodores upset the No. 6 Gamecocks 17-6 in Columbia that year to start a five-game losing streak. It was the only time in Spurrier’s tenure that USC did not reach a bowl game.
The Gamecocks added Holloman and OT Brandon Shell to their captains, bringing the total to six (Cooper, SS Isaiah Johnson, LB Skai Moore, G Mike Matulis). It’s the highest number of captains USC has had in a single season.
The Gamecocks had five captains in two seasons. Kalimba Edwards, Larrell Johnson, Phil Petty, Brian Scott and John Stamper served in 2001, while Justice Cunningham, T.J. Johnson, Marcus Lattimore, D.J. Swearinger and Shaq Wilson did so in 2012.
Red cross report
WR Deebo Samuel (hamstring) missed his fourth straight game. QBs Lorenzo Nunez (shoulder) and Connor Mitch (shoulder, hip) dressed but did not play. CBs Chaz Elder (ribs) and Jamari Smith (undisclosed) did not dress. C Alan Knott played the second half after being suspended for the first.
RB Brandon Wilds (ribs) and C Zack Bailey (hamstring) played. WR Carlton Heard (lip) dressed but did not play. CB Rico McWilliams left the first half with a concussion and did not return.