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South Carolina pulls away late, survives 5 turnovers to down S. Alabama, 37-12

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Defense shines, offense staggers, but the Gamecocks win and reach bowl eligibility for a 10th consecutive season.

Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Two weeks ago, South Carolina need 2 wins in its last 3 games to reach bowl eligibility. Thankfully, it took the bare minimum to accomplish that feat as the Gamecocks followed their thrilling overtime victory in Gainesville with a 37-12 win over the South Alabama Jaguars.

"Sloppy" comes to mind when describing the football played at Williams-Brice on Saturday, as the teams combined for 10 turnovers. During one stretch in the second quarter, the teams exchanged turnovers on six consecutive drives,  highlighted by Brison Williams' second pick six of the season. Mike Davis touched the ball just three times on what appeared to have been his final home game as a Gamecock. He fumbled twice, and was benched after the second.

In Davis' stead, Brandon Wilds and David Williams played admirably, combining for 132 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. Williams, for his part, did fumble once but also scored the touchdown. As has come to be expected, Pharoh Cooper had another highlight-heavy game, catching a 75 yard pass and throwing a touchdown to—go figure—Dylan Thompson. Cooper's 95 receiving yards put him 79 shy of the 1,000 yard mark. Elliott Fry continued to shine, going 3-3 from field goals and posting a career long 47 yarder in the 2nd quarter.

Defensively, TJ Gurley and Skai Moore led the way with 9 tackles each. Moore also had a pair of interceptions, matching his career high from the Capital One Bowl against Wisconsin. The Gamecocks posted 5 tackles for loss and a season-high 3 sacks. Perspective: The team had only 3 sacks since the Missouri game. While the Gamecocks did give up a few ugly 3rd down conversions, including a 3rd and 21 in the 2nd quarter, it held a team out of the endzone for the first time this season. Furthermore, the defense allowed just 80 yards and 3 points in the second half. It was an encouraging performance, albeit against a very, very bad offense. But it does mark the second consecutive week in which the defense outshone the offense. While the offense did manage 8 yards per play, the 5 turnovers neutralized what could have been an incredibly lopsided game.

In other news, Drew Owens overslept and Shaq Roland didn't play.

South Carolina will travel upstate next Saturday to try for its 6 straight victory over Clemson, who as of this writing is boatracing Georgia State. More analysis on the South Alabama win as well as plenty of Clemson preview material in the upcoming week.