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September 28, 2013

Davis shines while sick

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Just think what Mike Davis could have accomplished Saturday had his roommates been more considerate.

Playing under the weather because his roommates blasted the air conditioning during a wet, chilly week in Columbia last week, Davis rushed for 167 yards on 26 carries and three touchdowns on Saturday to lead No. 12 South Carolina past a sticky UCF team 28-25.

"I guess I showed up in the second half," said Davis in the understatement of the season.

After one quarter, Davis had three carries for 12 yards. At halftime, he had five carries for 17 yards, and the Gamecocks had a scoreless first half for the first time since the 2010 Papajohns.com Bowl, a 20-7 loss to Connecticut.

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Unlike that game, the South Carolina offensive line showed up in the second half, allowing Davis to explode for 150 yards and three touchdowns on 21 second-half carries and effectively seal the win.

"I didn't have no frustration at all (at halftime)," Davis said. "I believe in our team. We consider ourselves brothers. We believe in each other. As long as you get the win, that's all that matters.

"I didn't even realize how many carries I had."

Only a rare goal-line fumble on a fourth-quarter carry in which he went the wrong way prevented him from a chance to break the school record of three rushing touchdowns held by many players, the last being Marcus Lattimore against Navy in 2011. It would have been another first and another school record for a player who is fast becoming one of the better backs in school history.

One person not likely to disagree with that is UCF coach George O'Leary.

"Give their running back credit," O'Leary said. "I think he's a great running back and he made a lot of people miss tackles."

One of those plays O'Leary was referring to was Davis' 53-yard touchdown run for South Carolina's first points of the game four plays into the second half. The scamper gave Davis three plays this season and four for his career of longer than 50 yards.

"My teammates count on me," Davis said. "Those guys had the momentum, I felt somebody had to make a big play to quiet the crowd.

"They put the ball in my hands because the coaches trust me."

Head coach Steve Spurrier certainly does.

"Mike Davis had a heck of a game and the line blocked well," Spurrier said. "That was very encouraging. Mike had some super runs."

When asked whether USC wins the game without Davis, Spurrier answered honestly.

"I doubt it, probably," Spurrier said. "We gave it to him and gave it to him, a lot like we used to give it to Marcus Lattimore. That's what we have to do."

He'll get no arguments from Davis, who said he dreamed about a good game the night before and only wishes his roommates hadn't insisted on keeping the air conditioning on "high."

"I think I probably would have had a better game if I wasn't so sick and tired, you know, the heat out there," Davis said. "I'm a team player, and you know it's up to me. It's up to our offensive line. Those guys were the ones who got us this won and put up these stats."

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