South Carolina players and fans took video scoreboard viewing to new heights on Saturday before and during the early stages of the hard-fought 19-14 victory over Florida.
When the football team arrived at Williams-Brice Stadium shortly before 5 p.m., the Auburn-Georgia game was approaching halftime. USC players could be seen strolling around the field looking up at the massive board watching the game.
The Auburn-Georgia game continued to be shown intermittently on the video board as warmups progressed and even after the 7:10 p.m. kickoff of the USC-Florida game.
When Auburn finally secured the 43-38 victory, the Gamecock crowd roared with delight.
"It was on the screen there in the stadium and I think that's when all our people started yelling and screaming," USC head coach Steve Spurrier said, "But we hadn't even talked about it. Well, after the game I said, 'By the way, we do know that Auburn beat Georgia today somehow.' What a game that was. Good gracious, a sort of Hail Mary ball that went ricocheting around and he caught it.
"I guess that's why people watch football on television, games like the one they had. Ours was pretty interesting, too. It was an old-fashioned football game, I guess with a whole bunch of field goals by our team. We won one that way. Usually, you lose those but tonight we won it."
Spurrier insisted it wasn't hard for him not to peek up at the video board when pregame warmups were going on.
"There was nothing we could have done about it," Spurrier said. "We didn't want our players even thinking about it or talking about it. We were just trying to get ready for this one. We knew it was going to be tough trying to tell our guys that Florida is a darned good team after they got beat by Vandy."
Spurrier took offense to the local newspaper claiming that USC could name the score against Gators even though Florida had the top-ranked defense in the SEC entering the game.
"Some of you sportswriters around town don't help us a darn bit either when you write in the paper that Spurrier could run the score up on Florida tonight," Spurrier said. "Somebody actually wrote that. The opposing team reads that. I'm not mad, I'm just letting you know that when you make another team feel like they're not worth a crap, they'll come in here trying to bite us pretty good. I would hope you'll write that the Gamecocks would be very fortunate to beat this team.
"I knew it was going to be a tough game. I told the guys all week. They had big, strong offensive and defensive linemen. Fortunately, they're not a good passing team right now. But Florida is a pretty good team."
Following the conclusion of next Saturday's 1 p.m. nonconference home game against Coastal Carolina at Williams-Brice Stadium, Gamecock Nation will get an opportunity to watch the critical Missouri-Ole Miss game in its entirety as the Tigers and Rebels kick off from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford, Miss., at 7:45 p.m. ET on ESPN.
"We'll watch what Missouri does from afar and not worry about it too much," Spurrier said. "We'll worry about Coastal and try to beat those guys and get our ninth win and try to win 17 straight at home if we can.
"We have a lot more to play for other than the division. We have a whole bunch of goals. Hopefully, we have something big to play for every game."
Around 11 p.m. ET or so, USC could declare itself SEC Eastern Division champions or, if Mizzou triumphs over the Rebels, the race would extend into the final weekend of the regular season when the Tigers host Texas A&M in Columbia, Mo., and the Gamecocks battle rival Clemson at Williams-Brice Stadium.
Buckle your seat belt.
WHY DIDN'T WILDS PLAY?: Brandon Wilds was expected to play in Saturday night's game for his first action since the UCF game in late September when he dislocated his elbow. But Wilds didn't step onto the field and Spurrier afterwards explained why.
"Brandon Wilds said his hamstring was hurting," Spurrier said. "I said, 'Why did you suit up then? We could have put Brendan (Nosovitch) in. He is good on that inside zone read play. But (Wilds) was hurt, so Shon was it and he played pretty well."
With Wilds unable to play, Shon Carson and Mike Davis combined for 156 yards on 26 carries with just four lost yards.
"I have a lot of confidence in Shon," Davis said after the game. "I have a lot of confidence in a lot of guys playing behind me. We have a great set of running backs."
SONG OF ROLAND: Was Shaq Roland inbounds when he appeared to catch a touchdown pass from Connor Shaw in the left corner of the end zone with just under seven minutes remaining? The officials ruled incomplete pass and the call was upheld on video review.
"I thought Shaq actually had possession when his foot was down, but they said he bobbled the ball initially," Spurrier said. "But that was awfully close. I think everybody saw that he had possession with his foot down, but I guess the referees didn't think he did. But it turned out that it didn't matter."
USC settled for a go-ahead field goal by Elliott Fry, who added a fourth field goal 4:27 later to create the final score.
Roland had one catch for nine yards on the night, while Bruce Ellington and Damiere Byrd collected four receptions apiece. Ellington caught USC's only touchdown of the gamer on a fourth down pass.
"Four field goals made the difference," Spurrier said. "The one touchdown was a scramble play. It was fourth down, so Connor had to throw it up and Bruce caught a touchdown. That's when you know it's meant to be."
SEC RESULTS (Saturday 11/16):
Ole Miss 51, Troy 21
Vanderbilt 22, Kentucky 6
Auburn 43, Georgia 38
South Carolina 19, Florida 14
Alabama 20, Mississippi State 7
OPEN: Arkansas (3-7), LSU (7-3), Missouri (9-1), Tennessee (4-6), Texas A&M (8-2).
SEC EAST STANDINGS: Missouri 5-1, USC 6-2, Georgia 4-3, Vanderbilt 3-4, Florida 3-5, Tennessee 1-5, Kentucky 0-6.
* Shaw has now thrown 117 passes at home this season without an interception. His TD pass-to-interception ratio is now a dazzling 19-to-1, bettering his efficiency rating. USC didn't commit a turnover for the second straight game.
* USC's 16-game home winning streak is recognized by the NCAA as the longest in the nation. Spurrier described the winning streak as "pretty neat."
* Spurrier said all the assistant coaches that have been at USC for at least three years got game balls.
* Jimmy Legree's clinching interception with 1:22 left represented the only turnover in the game between the two teams.
* USC won four or more games against SEC Eastern Division foes for the fourth straight year, and is now 18-4 against the East over the past four seasons (2010-13).
* USC was 5-of-16 on third downs, a marked improvement from the Mississippi State win two weeks ago when the Gamecocks were a dismal 1-for-11 on third downs.
* USC is now 8-29 under Spurrier when it trails after the third quarter. Florida led, 14-13, entering the final frame on Saturday night.
* USC is 53-9 under Spurrier when the opponent scores 20 points or less.
* USC is 63-14 under Spurrier when the Gamecocks rush for 100 yards or more;
* Florida's 14-6 lead at halftime marked the first time USC trailed at the half at home since Auburn in 2011.
* Florida came into Saturday night's game averaging 20.6 points per contest, so the Gators became the eight opponent held below their season scoring average by the Gamecocks defense.
* USC had two three-and-outs on Saturday for a season total of 24 in 112 possessions through 10 games.
* Three of USC's five scoring drives traveled 64 yards or longer.
* The win was the 39th over a four-year period (2010-13), setting a new program record established by last year's senior class.
* Per USC, the deadline for Gamecock Club members to request tickets to the SEC Championship game is Sun., Nov. 17.