South Carolina's 30-22 upset win over No. 15 Auburn on Saturday afternoon wasn't just emphatic -- it was historic. It was the first time since 1933 that the Gamecocks have topped the Tigers. Granted, the two teams had only played eight times since then prior to Saturday.
Quarterback Collin Hill, a transfer from Colorado State, hit Shi Smith on an amazing one-handed grab for a 10-yard score midway through the third quarter to put the Gamecocks up one. After Jaycee Horn's second interception of Bo Nix on the ensuing drive, running back Kevin Harris scored from five yards out to stretch the lead to eight and they never looked back.
South Carolina coach Will Muschamp deserves a ton of credit. His team has won two straight and fought hard in every game they've played. They also seem to have found a running back in Harris, who had 83 yards and two touchdowns on Saturday. Muschamp's defense showed up when he needed it most -- specifically Horn, who was blanketed on star Auburn wide receiver Seth Williams for the majority of the afternoon.
This was Muschamp's first signature win since topping Georgia on Oct. 12, 2019. That'd go a long way toward the fifth-year coach keeping his job in normal seasons. The uncertain financial future surrounding college athletics will make it less likely for schools to part ways with coaches and pay buyouts. But it's still a feather in the cap for a coach and team fighting to become relevant in the SEC East.
For Auburn, it's the latest black eye in what has become an alarming offensive regression under coach Gus Malzahn.
Remember when he was considered one of the most innovative offensive coaches in the country who doubled as a quarterback-whisperer? Those days are long gone.
Nix was 24-of-47 passing for 272 yards, one touchdown and three costly interceptions that turned into Gamecocks' touchdowns. The yardage and completion figures are deceiving. He routinely escaped the pocket for no apparent reason and heaved up prayers, several of which were answered. The interceptions were inexcusable ... no matter how many yards he posted through the air.
This isn't a call for Nix to be benched. Auburn doesn't have a viable option behind him. But even if it did, Nix's regression falls directly on Malzahn and his trusted offensive coordinator Chad Morris. The passing game was so disjointed in Saturday's loss that cameras caught Nix and Williams in a shouting match after a failed third-down conversion in the third quarter.
Something has to change with Auburn's offense, and it doesn't look like that's possible this year based on the futility of the first four games of 2020. As it stands, running back Tank Bigsby -- who had 16 carries for 111 yards and one touchdown -- is the only bright spot for the Tigers.
Auburn has finished 10th in the SEC in yards per play in each of the last two seasons, and entered Saturday 11th in the conference at 5.22. This is supposed to be an explosive offense. Malzahn made it a dud, and Morris extinguished the fuse altogether.