5:45 PM ET, September 8, 2007
Sanford Stadium, Athens, GA
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- Steve Spurrier tried to downplay his latest win over Georgia. Of course, he couldn't resist one little dig at the Bulldogs.
"I guess I have won two out of three here," the ol' ball coach said Saturday night, clearly savoring another victory between the hedges.
Spurrier, who beat the Bulldogs regularly while at Florida, guided South Carolina to a 16-12 upset of No. 11 Georgia that may indicate the Gamecocks are finally ready to contend for their first Southeastern Conference title.
That's just why they hired Spurrier, who won plenty of titles during his days with the Gators and suddenly sounds a whole lot more confident about his chances at South Carolina.
"This was not a shock," Spurrier said. "We came here thinking that we matched up pretty well with Georgia."
That was hardly the formula Spurrier used to beat Georgia 11 out of 12 years during his dominating run at Florida, which captured six SEC championships and one national title with the coach's Fun 'n' Gun offense.
Spurrier knows he doesn't have that kind of high-scoring talent at South Carolina (2-0, 1-0 SEC), forcing him to rely on a stout defense and Succop's accurate right leg to hold off the Bulldogs (1-1, 0-1).
"We won an ugly game," Spurrier said.
Georgia was the highest-ranked team that South Carolina has beaten in Spurrier's three years as coach, and there was certainly no team he enjoyed beating more during his days in Gainesville.
The Georgia-Florida game is usually played in Jacksonville, Fla., but there were two years in the mid-90s that the schools played a home-and-home. The Gators won 52-17 at Sanford Stadium, a game that still rankles Bulldogs fans who felt Spurrier ran up the score.
South Carolina lost to Georgia the last two seasons with Spurrier on the sideline, including last year's ugly 18-0 defeat in Columbia -- only the second time one of his teams has been shut out.
Spurrier looked as though he wanted to make up for that game, going through all sorts of gyrations on the sidelines. He covered his eyes. He crossed his legs. He waved his arms this way and that.
One time, he threw down his playcard when one of his players dropped a pass. On another incompletion, he ripped off his headset in disgust.
"I'm sure he doesn't like Georgia," Bulldogs receiver Sean Bailey said. "But, no, Spurrier doesn't get any special attention from us. It's just another SEC team. I think every SEC team is capable of beating us if we don't show up. And we didn't show up tonight."
The Bulldogs, coming off an impressive 35-14 victory over Oklahoma State, were held without a touchdown for the first time since a 14-9 loss to South Carolina in 2001, when Lou Holtz was the coach and Spurrier was in his final season at Florida.
Succop connected from 41, 35 and 34 yards, the last of those giving the Gamecocks a 16-6 lead with 9:25 remaining.
The Bulldogs drove into South Carolina territory on their next two possessions, but settled for Brandon Coutu's third and fourth field goals. Georgia's best chance came with about 5 minutes remaining, when Matthew Stafford's pass bounced off the hands of Tony Wilson at the goal line, right before two Gamecock defenders crunched the redshirt freshman.
"It's one thing if you feel like a team outplayed or beat you, but it's another thing when you feel like you beat yourself," Bailey said. "I feel like we beat ourselves."
Georgia got one last chance to pull out a win, getting the ball back at its own 20 with 1:20 remaining. But the Bulldogs never seriously threatened, taking a couple of penalties before Stafford threw up a desperation pass that was picked off by Jasper Brinkley.
Blake Mitchell, who was suspended from South Carolina's opener for missing too many summer classes, knelt down one time and it was over.
Spurrier walked quickly to the "G" in the middle of the field, where he shook hands with Georgia coach Mark Richt. He also congratulated a few Bulldog players before heading to the locker room, getting another round of boos from a Georgia crowd that still considers him Public Enemy No. 1.
With good reason, it turned out.
South Carolina jumped ahead with a six-play, 62-yard drive in the first quarter, and finished off with a nifty 9-yard touchdown run by Boyd.
Boyd burst through a wide hole and left Georgia safety Kelin Johnson grasping at air with a quick stutter-step.
After giving up 252 yards rushing in last week's lackluster in over Louisiana-Lafayette, South Carolina held the Bulldogs to 128 on the ground.
Stafford faced plenty of pressure as the Gamecocks took advantage of Georgia's young offensive line. The sophomore completed just 19-of-44 pass for 213 yards, was sacked three times and spent much of the game on the run.
Mitchell had a solid night, completing 20-of-31 for 174 yards. The Gamecocks didn't take many chances, knowing their defense and running game could handle the load. Boyd ran for 76 yards and Mike Davis chipped in with 56.
"This was my first time to win against Georgia, and pretty much everybody on the team's first time to beat them," said Mitchell, a fifth-year senior. "This shows we can win the big game. Everybody was so happy in the locker room."
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... The clock ran out. The hard-hitting, low-scoring game was everything experts had predicted from these conference rivals.
Gameball goes to... South Carolina's D. Led by the brothers Brinkley, the Gamecocks defense rattled QB Matt Stafford and kept the Dawgs out of the end zone.
Stat of the game... 12. Georgia scored all its points on field goals, making four of five attempts. Cory Boyd's score was the game's only TD.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||1-11||3-18|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||0-1|
|TD||03:25||Cory Boyd 9 Yd Run (Ryan Succop Kick)||7||0|
|FG||07:10||Brandon Coutu 33 Yd||7||3|
|FG||02:48||Ryan Succop 41 Yd||10||3|
|FG||04:17||Ryan Succop 35 Yd||13||3|
|FG||01:54||Brandon Coutu 44 Yd||13||6|
|FG||09:19||Ryan Succop 34 Yd||16||6|
|FG||07:37||Brandon Coutu 39 Yd||16||9|
|FG||04:42||Brandon Coutu 34 Yd||16||12|