The South Carolina Gamecocks bagged a wildly unexpected and historic upset on Saturday night, steamrolling the fifth-ranked Tennessee Volunteers 63-38 as euphoric students and fans spilled onto Williams-Brice Stadium’s field to celebrate.
The Gamecocks, long bedeviled by offensive woes of all shapes and sizes, showed no such problems against the Vols, as quarterback Spencer Rattler put on a career-best showing with a 30-of-37 passing line for 438 yards and six touchdowns in a surgical eviserceration of the Tennessee defense.
While South Carolina struck first, the Vols answered right back, and a game that was expected to be a ho-hum walkover for Tennessee suddenly turned into a surprising shootout, with the Gamecocks showing ever-increasing confidence and UT seemingly reeling. After allowing a 21-point first quarter, the Vols settled in a bit, pulling off a 2-minute drill to get within striking distance before halftime, making it 35-24, and then opened the third quarter with another scoring drive to cut the USC advantage to 35-31.
At that point, it was fair to assume that the superior team had worked out its kinks and was now going to drop the hammer on the feisty, three-score underdog that had played so far above their ability. But the Gamecocks had other plans, and it was instead South Carolina that began to put the game away.
USC rolled up an eye-popping 606 yards of total offense, and several players enjoyed some of their best performances of the season in addition to Rattler. “Juice” Wells led USC with 11 catches for 177 yards, and Jalen Brooks and Juju McDowell logged receiving touchdowns as well. Jaheim Bell, who’s been pulling double-duty and filling in at running back while the Gamecocks wait for MarShawn Lloyd to get healthy, had his first breakout game at the position, logging 82 yards on 17 carries while adding 39 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
The victory was just South Carolina’s seventh over a top-five team, and its biggest win since toppling No. 1 Georgia in overtime in 2019. The Gamecocks’ 63 points were also:
- The most USC has scored against an SEC team since 1995
- The most Tennessee has allowed in an SEC game
- The most that an unranked opponent has ever put on a top-five team in the AP poll era
- And also, the stadium apparently ran out of celebratory fireworks because of so many touchdowns, a little thing we like to call a “good problem”
South Carolina (7-4, 4-4 SEC) now heads into rivalry week with juuuust a bit of pep in its step.