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South Carolina at Florida

No. 3 Florida blasts South Carolina, nears SEC East title

CBSSports.com wire reports
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Florida went 0-for-October last season, with humbling losses to Alabama, LSU, Auburn and Georgia.

It bothered coaches and players for a year.

It motivated them, too.

A year later, the Gators have a chance to end the month with a division title.

"I like this better," coach Will Muschamp said. "So does everybody else."

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Jeff Driskel threw four touchdown passes -- three of them after turnovers -- and the third-ranked Gators matched their win total from 2011 with a 44-11 drubbing of No. 9 South Carolina on Saturday.

The Gators avenged consecutive losses to the Gamecocks, including one a couple of years ago that ended with Steve Spurrier and his players celebrating a division title in the Swamp.

"We remember the feeling, how bad it hurt," center Jon Harrison said. "We even had guys getting emotional over it. We just used that as pure motivation to come out here and completely dominate this team."

Florida's latest whatever-it-takes win kept Muschamp's team undefeated and put it on the cusp of the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division title. The Gators (7-0, 6-0 SEC) can clinch a spot in the league's championship game by beating No. 13 Georgia next week in nearby Jacksonville.

Florida won this one with turnovers, stellar defense and more halftime adjustments -- the kind of successful tweaks that are making Muschamp and his staff seem like the right fit in Gainesville.

The Gators finished 7-6 last season, barely avoiding the program's first losing season since 1979. The struggles had outsiders questioning whether Muschamp could get Florida back to national prominence.

He's got the team there now -- even if it hasn't always been pretty.

The Gators managed just 29 yards and two first downs in the first half against South Carolina (6-2, 4-2). But they led 21-6 thanks to three turnovers.

Loucheiz Purifoy knocked the ball out of Connor Shaw's hands on the first play. Lerentee McCray recovered, giving Florida the ball at the 2-yard line. Driskel hooked up with Jordan Reed on third down, putting the Gators up early.

It also was a sign of things to come for the Gamecocks, who had trouble holding onto the ball all afternoon.

Ace Sanders fumbled on a punt return that led to Driskel's second TD pass. He found Quinton Dunbar for a 13-yard score. Dunbar spun out of DeVonte Holloman's grasp before coasting across the goal line.

On the ensuing kickoff, Solomon Patton forced Damiere Byrd to fumble. Chris Johnson picked it up and nearly scored. He was stopped at the 1, setting up Driskel's third TD pass to Reed. Driskel faked a handoff and found Reed alone in the back of the end zone, which made it 21-3.

"I'd rather have 1 yard in front of me than 75," Driskel said.

South Carolina failed to generate much offense. In fact, the Gamecocks managed two field goal in the first half thanks to penalties and returned a blocked extra point for two points in the third quarter.

Shaw completed 9 of 20 passes for 72 yards. He was benched in the second half, replaced by Dylan Thompson. Thompson completed 8 of 20 passes for 83 yards, with an interception.

"Coach Spurrier told me at halftime we were going to make the change," Shaw said. "He told me I wasn't getting the job done. I was completely supportive of him. Bottom line today, we just didn't execute."

The Gators put the game away by scoring on all three possessions in the third quarter, getting a 6-yard TD run by Omarius Hines, a field goal and a 6-yard pass from Driskel to Frankie Hammond Jr.

They made South Carolina's defensive front, which dominated in the first half, look suspect. They also better controlled standout end pass-rusher Jadeveon Clowney, who gave them fits early. And they kept South Carolina off balance with creative play-calling that included tight end Trey Burton in the wildcat.

"It was embarrassing for us, very embarrassing to lose," Spurrier said. "We've got to reevaluate a lot of our personnel and get players out there who really want to play for South Carolina. Two weeks ago, I wouldn't have thought this. We had a bad one today. LSU was bad [last week]. This one was worse. We've got to regroup somehow."

Driskel completed 11 of 16 passes for 93 yards. Mike Gillislee ran 19 times for 37 yards. Reed caught four passes for 44 yards.

Florida's defense and special teams were much more impressive.

The Gators held South Carolina to 191 yards, including minus-1 in the third quarter. Marcus Lattimore, who didn't start because of a hip injury, ran just three times for 13 yards. And Florida dominated every aspect of special teams. In addition to the two forced fumbles, Kyle Christy had seven punts of at least 50 yards.

"We're on our way to being what Florida used to be, what Florida's known for," Harrison said. "We hope to accomplish that this season."

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Latest Video

September 13, 2014
Georgia vs South Carolina recap (3:36)
1 September 13, 2014
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(0:46)
2 September 13, 2014
Georgia at South Carolina highlights
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3 September 13, 2014
South Carolina scores another TD
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Scoring Summary
FLAJordan Reed 3 yd pass from Jeff Driskel (Caleb Sturgis kick)
SCAdam Yates 35 yd FG
FLAQuinton Dunbar 13 yd pass from Jeff Driskel (Caleb Sturgis kick)
FLAJordan Reed 1 yd pass from Jeff Driskel (Caleb Sturgis kick)
SCAdam Yates 51 yd FG
FLAOmarius Hines 6 yd run (blocked XP)
SCVictor Hampton returned XP
FLACaleb Sturgis 42 yd FG
FLAFrankie Hammond 6 yd pass from Jeff Driskel (Caleb Sturgis kick)
SCAdam Yates 30 yd FG
FLAMatt Jones 1 yd run (Caleb Sturgis kick)
 
Team Stats
 SCFLA
First Downs1714
Third Down Efficiency3-147-16
Fourth Down Efficiency0-00-0
Plays-Net Yards66-19165-183
Rushes-Yds26-3648-89
Passing Yds15594
Kick Return Yds7974
Punt Return Yds-1319
Passes17-40-112-17-0
Punts7-2777-380
Fumbles-Lost4-30-0
Penalties-Yds3-267-74
Time of Poss.24:3235:28
 
Individual Stats
RUSHING
SC: Mike Davis 6-20, Kenny Miles 5-15, Marcus Lattimore 3-13, Bruce Ellington 1-3, Connor Shaw 9--2, Dylan Thompson 2--13
FLA: Mike Gillislee 19-37, Mack Brown 5-18, Solomon Patton 2-15, Matt Jones 3-11, Trey Burton 5-10, Omarius Hines 2-9, Jeff Driskel 9--5, Team 3--6
PASSING
SC: Dylan Thompson 8-20-83-1, Connor Shaw 9-20-72-0
FLA: Jeff Driskel 11-16-93-0, Trey Burton 1-1-1-0
RECEIVING
SC: D.L. Moore 3-23, Ace Sanders 2-32, Justice Cunningham 2-13, Marcus Lattimore 2-9, Kenny Miles 2-5, Rory Anderson 1-20, DeAngelo Smith 1-16, K.J. Brent 1-14, Jerell Adams 1-12, Mike Davis 1-6, Nick Jones 1-5
FLA: Jordan Reed 4-44, Quinton Dunbar 2-29, Frankie Hammond 2-16, Omarius Hines 2-7, Hunter Joyer 1-1, Mike Gillislee 1--3
 
Standings
TeamStandingsConferenceOverall
South Carolina1st SEC East2-13-1
Florida2nd SEC East1-12-1