Is eight enough? South Carolina fans probably think no.
The Gamecocks got their eighth win of the season Saturday evening in Williams-Brice Stadium, beating Wofford 31-10 and maintaining their late season momentum headed into the season finale against No. 2 Clemson, which has beaten South Carolina three consecutive times.
“We just have to come out here with an edge about ourselves,” Gamecocks linebacker Skai Moore said. “That’s how we played my freshman year, that 2013 team, we had an edge about us, so that’s the motto we are going to be preaching throughout the week, have an edge about us and leave it all on the field.”
South Carolina’s tuneup performance worked out pretty well. The Gamecocks (8-3) held Wofford and its potent option offense to 227 yards, while gaining 389 themselves, 195 on the ground and 194 through the air.
“A very workmanlike effort,” coach Will Muschamp said after the game before hurrying to Benedict’s Charlie W. Johnson Stadium to see his son Jackson play with the Hammond Skyhawks for the SCISA 3A state championship. “I thought our guys approached this game the right way.”
As for next week: “The players understand what’s next week. It’s important to them, and we’ll be ready to go.”
South Carolina has its most wins since the 2013 season, when it finished 11-2 and No. 4 in the nation. The Gamecocks have won five of their past six games. The Terriers (9-2) lost their 17th straight in this series.
The Gamecocks led 14-3 at halftime but gave up a 75-yard scoring drive to the Terriers to open the third quarter. Wofford pulled within 14-10 on a 1-yard run by Blake Morgan with 9:23 left in the third quarter. South Carolina answered with a 70-yard scoring drive, capped by a 1-yard Jake Bentley touchdown run that put the Gamecocks up 21-10 with 6:21 left in the third quarter. From there, South Carolina stopped a Wofford 4th-down attempt and then got a 27-yard field goal from Parker White to take a 24-10 lead with 13:43 left in the game.
“We knew we had to be efficient on offense because they eat up a lot of clock,” South Carolina quarterback Jake Bentley said. “They are a great team. They are going to make it deep in their playoffs. We knew it was going to be a tough game, and we were going to have to execute at a high level.”
Star of the game: Bentley finished 22-of-28 passing for 194 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. He rushed for two 1-yard touchdowns and now leads the team in rushing touchdowns with six on the season. “He’s got to have to get a couple longer runs to get that dual-threat title,” wide receiver Bryan Edwards joked. “He’s got to get about 15 or 20 yards.”
Play of the game: Senior linebacker Skai Moore tied South Carolina’s career record for interceptions with 14, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Wofford led 3-0 at the time and had just stopped the Gamecocks on 4th-and-2 to steal the game’s momentum, but on the first play of the ensuing drive, Moore leaped in front of a Brandon Goodson pass to give South Carolina the ball at the 50-yard line. South Carolina scored on that drive and never relinquished that lead.
Stat of the game: With his sixth touchdown of the season, a 1-yard run that put South Carolina ahead 21-10 in the third quarter, Bentley tied Deebo Samuel for the team lead in touchdowns with six. Samuel (broken leg) hasn’t played since the third game of the season.
Getting Going: South Carolina rushed for minus-3 yards in the first quarter and 36 in the first half, but the ground game got going in the second half. The Gamecocks finished with 195 yards on the ground. “We were wearing them down a little bit,” said A.J. Turner, who led South Carolina with 69 yards. “First half, we weren’t really running the ball like that, but second half we really came out and (offensive coordinator Kurt) Roper said we need to be more physical and control the line of scrimmage so we can run the ball, and that’s what we did.”
Tough Game: The Gamecocks dropped four passes and three of those were by freshman wide receiver OrTre Smith. Edwards talked to Smith after the game to encourage him, Edwards said. “We all have those games,” Edwards said. “Everybody drops passes. It’s part of the game. You just can’t get down on yourself and let it transfer to next week.”
Second-Place Finish: Kentucky’s loss to Georgia on Saturday means South Carolina will finish the season alone in second place in the SEC East. The Gamecocks were picked to finish fourth in the division in the preseason. “Obviously, it’s not the ultimate goal of what we want to accomplish, but when you look at the progress this program has made, it says a lot about the guys on this team and the program we are building here.”
Who: Clemson at South Carolina
When: Saturday, Nov. 25, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium