David Cloninger

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down: USC-Western Carolina

THUMBS UP

Rico Dowdle

He had one fumble, but otherwise shredded Western’s soft defense for 226 yards and two touchdowns.

Jake Bentley

Another solid day, helped by some key third-down throws and a 40-yard strike to Bryan Edwards just before halftime.

Will Muschamp

The famously conservative coach decided not to sit on a second-quarter lead after his defense finally came up with a stop. The ensuing touchdown was a lot of breathing room.

Elliott Fry

He booted three field goals to keep USC just far enough ahead.

THUMBS DOWN

Defensive line

The Catamounts’ offensive line was submarining USC all day. It was the first time the Gamecocks gave up 30 points all season.

Linebackers

Where were they? Never in their gaps as Western had 236 rushing yards.

Cory Helms

USC had second-and-goal from the 3, trying to put the game away, when Helms was flagged for a personal foul. It forced a field goal. Inexcusably foolish play.

Kickoff coverage

USC gave up 275 yards, including a 93-yard return for a touchdown. Could have meant the game.

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