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Looking Back: Florida

Carolina will look for only their 3rd win in The Swamp on Saturday at 4:00 against the Gators. First, we will look back at some of the very memorable games played between the Gators and Gamecocks.

FBC-SCAROLINA-FLORIDA Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

November 14th, 1992. Carolina was riding a four game winning streak going into their first meeting with the Gators as an SEC East foe. Carolina had once been 0-5 to start the 1992 season but had a chance to become bowl eligible if they could upset the Gators in The Swamp and then upset Clemson the next week in Memorial Stadium. Carolina was no stranger to upsets in 1992 as they had notched two SEC upsets against 15th ranked Mississippi State and 16th ranked Tennessee. Pulling a victory off in The Swamp would be a tall task for the Gamecocks but they led the Gators 3-0 at halftime. Shane Matthews and the Gators woke up in the 2nd half to score two touchdowns and a dropped touchdown on a trick play would spell the end of Carolina’s 1992 postseason dreams as the Gators escaped with a 14-9 victory. For what it’s worth, Carolina did upset Clemson the next week 24-13 to finish the season 5-6.

November 10th, 2001. Lou Holtz had turned the Carolina football program into an SEC East contender for the second year in a row. The only thing that stood between the #15 Gamecocks and Atlanta was the 3rd ranked Florida Gators. The energy in Columbia the entire week was higher than ever. College Gameday setup shop in Columbia for the first time that morning and this was the first “Blackout” game in a long line of disappointments. Everything was going perfectly fine and Williams Brice was rocking until the Gators seized control midway through the 2nd quarter in a 10-10 tie. Florida exploded for 44 unanswered points and routed the Gamecocks 54-17. Ironically, that was Steve Spurrier’s final road game as coach of the Florida Gators. The next time he would take an SEC team on the road would be in 2005 as head coach of the South Carolina Gamecocks.

November 12th, 2005. South Carolina had not been within single digits of the Florida Gators on the field but three times since joining the SEC in 1992. They were 0-13 against the Florida Gators going into the 2005 matchup, and this time the Gators were ranked 12th in the country. One thing had changed drastically, however. South Carolina had a new head coach and his name was Steve Spurrier. The SEC legend who had a Heisman Trophy, 6 SEC championships, and a national championship under his belt was back in college football after leaving his alma mater Florida in 2001 to take his crack at the NFL for two seasons. Spurrier shocked the SEC by returning to the conference that he had dominated but this time it was to coach South Carolina. This would be the first time that Spurrier would coach against the Gators, and to add to the storyline the Gamecocks were still alive in the SEC East race. Carolina raced out to a 20-3 lead before Florida clawed back to make it 20-19 midway through the 3rd quarter. Blake Mitchell hit Sidney Rice for a long catch and run to set up a short touchdown run to make it 27-19. Both teams traded 4th quarter field goals to make the score 30-22. Florida was set to get the football back in the final minutes but was flagged for having too many men on the field during a Carolina punt. Carolina ran out the clock and had their first win in SEC play against the Florida Gators, pulling off a 30-22 upset to stay in the SEC East race.

NCAA Football - Florida vs South Carolina - November 12, 2005 Photo by Charles Sonnenblick/WireImage

November 11th, 2006. Steve Spurrier returned to The Swamp for the first time as a visitor to face the eventual national champions. Carolina was a heavy underdog to the Gators but played quite possibly their best game of the season. Carolina controlled the game but special teams was the difference on this day. Florida blocked 3 kicks, Jarvis Moss blocking two of them, including the potential game-winning field goal on the last play of the game to escape with a 17-16 victory.

NCAA Football - South Carolina vs Florida - November 11, 2006 Photo by A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images

November 13, 2010. Once again, the only thing standing between the Gamecocks and a trip to Atlanta for the SEC Championship was a victory over the Florida Gators. Easy enough, right? Well, Carolina was 1-17 against Florida since joining the SEC and they were 0-9 in Gainesville. The average score of Carolina-Florida games in The Swamp? 37-14 in favor of the Gators. History said that the Gamecocks had no shot at winning in The Swamp that night and clinching their first ever SEC East title. Florida head coach Urban Meyer called for a “blue out” However, the Gamecocks had more talent on their roster than they had ever had before. They had NFL talent all over the field on both sides of the ball, but the ace in the hole was the best freshman running back in the country named Marcus Lattimore. Things looked bleak 14 seconds into the game when Florida’s Andre Dubose ran the opening kickoff back for a touchdown to make the score 7-0. Marcus Lattimore took over following that and silenced the once deafening Florida crowd. Lattimore rushed for 212 yards and 3 touchdowns. Carolina scored 36 of the final 43 points in the contest. Carolina dominated Florida 36-14 to clinch their first victory in The Swamp and more importantly clinch their first SEC East title. Steve Spurrier was carried off of the field that he once roamed for the Gators, this time it was on the shoulders of Carolina players in one of the biggest victories in school history. This would also be the final SEC game that Urban Meyer would coach as Florida head coach.

FBC-SCAROLINA-FLORIDA Gary W. Green/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

November 15th, 2014. Believe it or not, this matchup of 4-5 South Carolina vs 5-3 Florida had a huge impact on the college football landscape. The game itself was nothing to talk about until walk-on Carlton Heard blocked a Florida punt in the final seconds to set up a game-tying touchdown by Mike Davis to send the game to overtime. Florida kicked a field goal on their first possession to make the score 20-17. Carolina methodically moved inside the 10 yard line when Dylan Thompson strolled in untouched for the game-winning score to give Carolina their second win in three tries in Gainesville, 23-20. The impact on college football was a snowball effect. Steve Spurrier decided to stay at Carolina another year following that victory before abruptly resigning in the middle of the next season. Florida, on the other hand, fired head coach Will Muschamp soon after that loss which opened the door for Jim McElwain to take over for the Gators. South Carolina would then turn around and hire the man that Florida fired 13 months later when they named Will Muschamp as head coach.

South Carolina v Florida Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

November 6th, 2021. Following a bye week and an embarrassing 44-14 loss to Texas A&M in College Station, South Carolina faced Florida at home in Shane Beamer’s first season. Carolina named transfer quarterback Jason Brown the starter against the Gators. Florida came in as an 18 point road favorite against the Gamecocks but the game went the exact opposite way. Florida looked like a team that had completely given up under Dan Mullen. Carolina thoroughly dominated the Gators to give Shane Beamer his first big win as head coach of the Gamecocks. Carolina ran away with a 40-17 victory at Williams Brice Stadium.

Some random thoughts about this series.

  • After losing 17 of their first 18 games against Florida as a member of the SEC, they have won 6 of the last 12 games against the Gators.
  • From 1994-2004, Florida absolutely dominated the Gamecocks. The Gators scored over 40 points in 7 of the 11 meetings. Carolina only scored over 20 points in 5 of those games. The average score was Florida 42 South Carolina 15.
  • This game has historically been in November and has been one of South Carolina’s final SEC games with the exception of 2019 when it was played in October and 2020 when it was played as the second game of the season due to the change in the schedule due to Covid.