South Carolina (5-3 overall, 4-3 SEC) came from behind to beat Ole Miss (5-4, 1-4) 48-44 in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on Saturday. Here are five things we learned from that game:
This team is fun to watch
That is, if you can survive the heart palpitations. Saturday’s 92 total points made the game the fifth-highest scoring game in Gamecocks history. It was the first time in school history both teams topped 43 points in the game. Add this game to the dramatic 37-35 win over Missouri and four straight games decided by four or fewer points and South Carolina is putting together one of its most entertaining seasons in a while. Seventeen of head coach Will Muschamp’s games at South Carolina have been one-possession games (eight points or less), which is the most of any FBS team in the country in the last three years, according to ESPN’s research. Under Muschamp, the Gamecocks are 5-1 in games decided by three points or less and 13-4 in games decided by eight points or less.
Whatever mental switch Jake Bentley flipped has worked
Saturday was the first time since the season-opener against Coastal Carolina that Bentley hasn’t thrown at least one interception. On top of that, he had 363 passing yards, the most he’s ever had against an SEC opponent, and two touchdowns on 22-of-32 passing. Since saying two weeks ago that he played to try to better manage his emotions, Bentley is 33-of-48 passing (69 percent) for 515 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
Will Muschamp is fully committed to Bryan McClendon’s offense
There had to be a part of South Carolina’s head coach that wanted to scream, “Slow down,” as Saturday’s game kept lighting up the scoreboard. If nothing else, it might have been a way to help out his defense, something that Muschamp has been blamed for being too concerned with in the past. Instead, Muschamp told McClendon to stick to an up-tempo and aggressive plan. The result was that South Carolina lost the time of possession battle by more than 10 minutes but won the game.
Lots of snaps lead to lots of tackles
South Carolina had four players with double digit tackles, chiefly because Ole Miss ran 98 plays. That’s the second-most of any Gamecocks opponent in history. Texas A&M in this season in the 2014 season-opener and N.C. State in last year’s season-opener each ran 99 plays. T.J. Brunson led the way with 15 tackles, including a career-high 3.5 for loss. Defensive backs Keisean Nixon (13), R.J. Roderick (13) and Steven Montac (12) all had career highs in tackles.
The Gamecocks will go bowling
South Carolina picked up its fifth win Saturday. With games against Chattanooga and Akron left on the schedule, that virtually clinches postseason play for this team. That’s not nothing for the Gamecocks, who will have gone to a bowl game in every year of Will Muschamp’s tenure unless the wheels fall off the rest of the season. The only other time South Carolina has gone to a bowl game in three straight seasons was when Steve Spurrier’s team played in a bowl game from 2008 through 2014.