For 30 minutes Saturday night, South Carolina looked completely healed.
The No. 13 Gamecocks, coming off a disheartening loss to Georgia a week ago, dominated Vanderbilt in the first half on the way to a 28-10 lead. The large cushion allowed them to survive a sloppy second half and escape with a 35-25 victory over the Commodores.
A Williams-Brice Stadium crowd of 81,371, many of whom had gone home before the game got tight at the end, watched as South Carolina won its 13home game, the second-longest streak in the nation.
The Gamecocks outgained Vanderbilt 381-95 in the first half and led 35-10 after Brandon Wilds scored on a 33-yard pass from Connor Shaw with 10:22 left in the third quarter. Things got dicey from there, though.
Vanderbilt scored two touchdowns in the span of 13 seconds early in the fourth quarter and closed the gap to 35-25 on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Austyn CartaSamuels to Wesley Tate and a two-point conversion with 13:59 left in the game. That touchdown was set up when Shon Carson fumbled the kickoff on Vanderbilt’s previous possession.
South Carolina then turned the ball over again when T.J. Gurley was hit by a rolling punt, and Vanderbilt recovered at South Carolina’s 37-yard line. The Commodores moved to the 5-yard line before Jimmy Legree intercepted a pass at the goal line to stop the bleeding with 8:41 left in the game.
The Gamecocks now have two weeks off before traveling to Orlando, Fla., where they will face 3-0 UCF. The Knights beat Penn State 34-31 on Saturday.
Steve Spurrier improved to 20-2 all-time against Vanderbilt. In the previous six games, South Carolina had averaged 16 points against the Commodores and hadn’t scored more than 21. The Gamecocks surpassed that in the first 20 minutes Saturday, scoring touchdowns on each of their first four possessions and taking a 28-0 lead on a 26-yard scoring pass from Connor Shaw to Bruce Ellington with 10:03 remaining in the second quarter.