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October 7, 2012

South Carolina blows out No. 5 Georgia

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Connor Shaw threw two touchdown passes and ran for another, Ace Sanders had a dazzling 70-yard punt return touchdown and No. 6 South Carolina’s defense dominated fifth-ranked Georgia in a 35-7 victory Saturday.

The Gamecocks (6-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) won their school-record 10th straight game with a performance that marked certainly marked them an Eastern Division front-runner — and maybe showed they’re capable of even more.

Those tests come soon as South Carolina travels to once-beaten LSU next week and then to Florida on Oct. 20. It’d be hard to pick against the Gamecocks after this one.

“This was a special one,” coach Steve Spurrier said. “It really was.”

South Carolina grounded “Gurshall,” holding Georgia’s stellar freshmen Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall to 76 yards combined. The Bulldogs (5-1, 3-1) finished with 224 yards, less than half their season’s average coming in.

Marcus Lattimore ended with 109 yards and a touchdown, the third straight time he’s gone past the century mark on the Bulldogs. Coincidence the Gamecocks have posted their first-ever three game win streak in the series that began in 1894?

The Gamecocks 10th straight victory surpasses a school best set with their 9-0 start in 1984. That team reached No. 2 in the country and were poised for the top spot when No. 1 Nebraska lost, but South Carolina fell to Navy to lose perhaps its best-ever shot at a national champion.

Spurrier’s Gamecocks look capable at another run this season. There are plenty of hurdles ahead, starting next Saturday at LSU’s Death Valley where Les Miles’ Tigers rarely ever lose at night. The Swamp and a revived Florida also won’t be easy. Still, South Carolina showed the brand of championship defense usually found on the SEC’s best teams.

“If we play like this, maybe we have a chance for a real big year,” Spurrier said. “Maybe.”

Georgia came in with a league-leading 48.2 points and 536 yards a game of offense — and where shut down by the Gamecocks.

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