GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Will Muschamp was on the losing end of another Florida-South Carolina game in The Swamp.
The No. 22 Gators (7-2, 5-2) played well in all three phases of the game Saturday to notch a 20-7 win over Muschamp and his Gamecocks (5-5, 3-5).
South Carolina had a couple successful drives in the fourth quarter, one resulting in a touchdown, but Florida’s defense keep the Gamecocks out of the end zone on their final series with a fourth-down stop.
Ahmad Fulwood’s touchdown. It was rare score from the senior wide receiver that put the Gators up by two touchdowns and made for an impressive first half by quarterback Austin Appleby.
After consecutive performances of less than 250 yards on offense and just 3 points scored at Arkansas, there was concern for the Gators that they would struggle again against Muschamp’s defense. The opposite happened. With starting quarterback Luke Del Rio sidelined (shoulder), Appleby breathed new life into the offense and was able to move the ball throughout the game. Despite three backup offensive linemen starting due to injuries, the Gators finished with 372 total yards and running back Jordan Scarlett eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark for the second time this season.
Can the offense keep this up? UF played well with Appleby for a one half at Tennessee, then had six awful quarters. Appleby & Co. will face a tough test next Saturday at LSU, which boasts the No. 3 defense in the SEC. They also can’t turn the ball over three times. With the injuries sustained Saturday, Florida has now lost a total of nine starters over the last two games. The Gators were able to get by South Carolina without those players, but will they have enough talent to hang with the Tigers in Death Valley? UF coach Jim McElwain should provide updates in his post-game presser on the four players injured Saturday.
With 9:33 left to play in the second quarter, the Gators had more total yards against South Carolina (251) than they did their previous two games (241, 231). In the first quarter, Florida picked up eight first downs, converted all three third-down attempts and gained 158 yards of offense.
What it means:
With the victory over South Carolina, the Gators still own first place in the SEC East standings. But with Tennessee beating Kentucky on Saturday, Florida will likely need a road win at LSU to win the division.