|Jordan Reed and Co. saw their Gators roll past the mistake-prone Gamecocks. (US Presswire)|
FLORIDA WON. The Gators defense and special teams won the first half, their offense joined the party in the second, and in the end Florida won the game without even breaking much of a sweat. Connor Shaw fumbled the ball away on the Gamecock 2-yard line on South Carolina's first play from scrimmage, and it was all downhill from there for Steve Spurrier's team: three first-half turnovers converted into three first-half touchdowns for a 21-6 deficit, then a 10-play, 59-yard touchdown march for the Gators to open the second half and put the game away. It wasn't a game for big offensive stats for anyone, but Jeff Driskel did throw for four touchdowns (and just 93 yards).
Marcus Lattimore played despite an injured hip, but only gained 13 yards on three carries.
WHY FLORIDA WON: You could talk about the Gamecocks' lack of faith in their running game with a banged-up Lattimore, Shaw's continuing habit of being one-fourth the quarterback on the road that he is at home, or how Florida's defense has continued to mature into one that can look the units at LSU or even Alabama in the eye. But the bottom line is that winning in The Swamp against any quality Gators team -- much less one ranked No. 2 in the nation, per the BCS -- requires not beating yourself first. And the Gamecocks flunked that requirement as flagrantly as it was possible to flunk it. There was Shaw's fumble to start things off. Then there was Ace Sanders making his first punt return mistake of the year, fumbling the ball away in his own territory after a nice Gamecocks stop. And then there was Damiere Byrd responding to the ensuing Gators touchdown by fumbling the kickoff and setting up another.
At the end of the first half, Florida had only 29 offensive yards. But the Gators also had scoring drives of 2, 29, and 1 yards. And the Gamecocks had no chance of winning the game with both feet shot clean off.
WHEN FLORIDA WON: The Omarius Hines' touchdown to open the second half more or less ended the drama, but the rare blocked-extra-point-returned-for-two meant it took Frankie Hammond's late-third quarter 6-yard touchdown reception -- capping yet another short-field march, this time just 44 yards -- to put the Gators up 37-8 and the game officially out of reach.
WHAT FLORIDA WON: At Texas A&M, at Tennessee, vs. LSU, and vs. South Carolina means that no SEC team (with the possible exception of the Gamecocks) has faced a more difficult road to a divisional title. No matter: If the Gators win the World's Largest Cocktail Party next Saturday, they will clinch a trip to Atlanta ... and very likely be one road win over Florida State away from heading to the SEC Championship Game undefeated.
WHAT SOUTH CAROLINA LOST: A second straight loss and its top-10 poll spot, but much more importantly, any realistic chance of winning the SEC East. Another of Spurrier's best teams will fall short of winning the Gamecocks' first SEC crown, and even if Carolina finishes out with a win over Clemson and another double-digit mark in the win column, that bitterness is going to stay in the Old Ball Coach's mouth until at least the start of the 2013 season.