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November 2, 2013

Extra points

A look at some notes and tidbits surrounding Saturday's USC-MSU game that took place -- mostly -- away from the playing field.

History in the making. The Gamecocks entered the game a win away from tying the school's record for consecutive wins at home. South Carolina has won 14 straight home games dating back to 2011, but a victory would tie the mark set from 1978 to 1980, when the Gamecocks won 15 straight at home before losing to Ole Miss.

Record watch. Connor Shaw wasn't officially credited with the win last week at Missouri, but remains two wins away from tying Todd Ellis (24-16-3) as the winningest quarterback in program history. Shaw is one of five South Carolina quarterbacks with at least 20 wins, but with a 22-5 record and .815 winning percentage, he is far and away the best of the five in terms of success rate.

Roland redeemed. After a three-game suspension and just one catch for 4 yards in the two games since he's been back in uniform, Roland was listed as a starter for Saturday's game. While he didn't actually start - Roland would enter the game on South Carolina's third play - the sophomore wideout certainly made his presence known early on, catching two touchdown passes for 57 yards in the first quarter.

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Homecoming. Saturday's game marked the end of homecoming week at South Carolina. As part of the festivities, the Carolina Band's halftime performance was set to a Motown theme, featuring renditions of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition," Michael Jackson's "P.Y.T.," and Bruno Mars' "Treasure." The band also gave a special performance of Macklemore's "Can't Hold Us" to the student section at halftime.

For homecoming, former student-athletes of all ages were invited back to campus. A number of Gamecocks from the 1940s to the 2010s participated and were honored on the field at halftime after the band's performance.

A bright star. Olympic Gold medalist, world champion sprinter and University of South Carolina alumna Natasha Hastings led fans in the "Game-Cocks" chant before the game. Hastings joined Curtis Frye's track and field program at South Carolina in 2005 and went on to claim multiple SEC championships, national championships and All-America selections before going pro.

Celebrity homecomings. Former South Carolina and current Detroit Lions defensive end Devin Taylor made his way to the game during Detroit's bye week Saturday. The former fourth-round draft pick has eight tackles, a sack and a forced fumble through eight games of his rookie season. Country music star and South Carolina alumnus Darius Rucker also made it to the game, but not before meeting and taking pictures with fans at Gamecock Park.

Ace Sanders, who has 16 catches for 182 yards in his rookie season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, and Jasper Brinkley - who has 25 tackles and a pass deflection through seven games with the Arizona Cardinals this season - were also honored on the field during the second quarter with Taylor.

Packed house. South Carolina announced a sellout crowd of 82,111 for Saturday's game. The program has sold out each of its four home games this season, and has already announced sellouts for the Nov. 16 Florida game and the Nov. 30 Clemson matchup.

A program on the rise. South Carolina's women's basketball team was honored on the field during a break in first-quarter action. The No. 22 Gamecocks defeated North Greenville 96-35 in an exhibition game Friday night behind big performances from returning leading scorer Aleighsa Welch and freshman Alaina Coates. South Carolina will open the regular season next Friday against Charleston Southern at 7 p.m. at Colonial Life Arena.

Going bowling. Florida Citrus Sports was the only bowl association represented at the game, sending two delegates. The association handles the Capital One Bowl, held in Orlando, Fla., on New Year's Day as well as the Dec. 28 Russell Athletic Bowl.

The League. The Baltimore Ravens, Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans sent one scout apiece to the game.

The League? The B.C. Lions, a Canadian Football League team from Vancouver, British Columbia, also sent one scout. The Lions compete in the CFL's Western Division, play home games in BC Place Stadium in Vancouver, have a mascot named Leo the Lion and are currently 12-8 heading into the last game of their season.

Uniform report. South Carolina went with the all-garnet uniforms Saturday, while the Bulldogs donned all-whites with maroon helmets, giving them a look nearly identical to Michigan State's road uniforms. The Gamecocks have worn the "big game garnet" uniforms one just one other occasion this season, beating North Carolina 27-10 in them during the season opener.

Captains. South Carolina's captains for the game were Jimmy Legree, Ronald Patrick, Connor Shaw and Chaz Sutton. Mississippi State was represented by Tyler Russell, LaDarius Perkins, Gabe Jackson and Denico Autry. South Carolina's captains, the four scholarship seniors on the roster, have been named permanent captains for the year.

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