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Looking Back: Vanderbilt

South Carolina looks to rebound on Saturday night against Vanderbilt in Nashville, but first let’s look back at a series that the Gamecocks have owned since joining the SEC in 1992. Believe it or not, there have been some very memorable moments in this series.

South Carolina v Vanderbilt Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

October 24th, 1992. A week after earning their first SEC win behind true freshman quarterback Steve Taneyhill against 15th ranked Mississippi State the Gamecocks ventured on the road to face Vanderbilt in Nashville seeking their first SEC road victory. Prospects looked bleak early on as the Gamecocks trailed Vanderbilt 17-7 before the Gamecocks rallied for 14 points in the final 15:18 of the contest, capped by a Blake Williamson bootleg scramble for a touchdown with just over 7 minutes remaining. Carolina had their first SEC road victory with a 21-17 victory in Nashville.

September 4th, 2004. South Carolina had a tricky opener to the 2004 season when they had to travel to Vanderbilt. The Commodores were led by a junior quarterback named Jay Cutler along with dangerous wide receiver Earl Bennett. The game was never really in doubt as the Gamecocks suffocated the Commodores all day and Jamacia Jackson’s 98 yard pick six sealed the game with 9 minutes to go to give the Gamecocks a 31-6 win in Nashville.

October 22nd, 2005. In what may have been the most entertaining game of Steve Spurrier’s first season at South Carolina the Gamecocks and Commodores broke out into a second half shootout in Columbia. Jay Cutler was a senior for Vanderbilt and turned in a great performance, but Syvelle Newton stole the spotlight on this day. Newton caught, threw, and rushed for a touchdown but was lost to a season-ending Achilles injury on his rushing touchdown in the 4th quarter. Vanderbilt scored with just under 4 minutes left to tie the score at 28 before Blake Mitchell engineered a game-winning drive capped off by a 6 yard touchdown pass to Sydney Rice with 1:41 remaining. Carolina had to stop Cutler one final time and was able to make one final stand to hold Vanderbilt out of the endzone in the final seconds to give the Gamecocks their 2nd of 5 straight SEC wins in 2005 with a thrilling 35-28 win.

NCAA Football - South Carolina vs Vanderbilt - October 22, 2005 Photo by Rex Brown/WireImage

(Fair warning, these next two are going to be rather unenjoyable)

October 20th, 2007. Carolina entered this contest with a 6-1 record and ranked #6 in the country. I remember being on the field for this game and looking at the scoreboard before 2001 played to see the video board with a message that read “We’re #6 in the country so stand up and make some noise.” The game might have been the biggest disaster of Steve Spurrier’s tenure. Vanderbilt raced out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter and Carolina never found the end zone. A 17-6 loss to Vanderbilt jumped started a 5 game losing streak to end the 2007 season and a team that had BCS bowl dreams ended up missing the postseason altogether.

September 4th, 2008. Carolina traveled to Nashville with renewed energy in 2008 to begin the season after the disastrous finish to 2007. Carolina had shut out NC State 34-0 on a Thursday night to open the season the week before and was favored to start the season 2-0 with top-ranked Georgia coming to Columbia the following week. Carolina was 7-1 in Nashville as a member of the SEC going into the 2008 contest, but just as it was in 2007, it was just not meant to be against the Commodores yet again. Vanderbilt upset Carolina 24-17 on their way to a 5-0 start to the 2008 season.

August 30th, 2012. This was not your normal Vanderbilt team as James Franklin had the Commodores as a formidable opponent for anyone during this period. 8th ranked Carolina traveled to a fired up Vanderbilt Stadium to begin the 2012 season. This contest also marked Marcus Lattimore’s return from a season-ending knee injury in 2011. Lattimore looked like he never missed a beat in rushing for 110 yards and 2 touchdowns. Connor Shaw gutted through a shoulder injury and the Carolina defense was able to stop Vanderbilt on their final drive to preserve a hard-fought 17-13 win to open the 2012 season.

September 1st, 2016. The beginning of the Will Muschamp era was a memorable night in Nashville for the Gamecocks. Vanderbilt was a 3.5 favorite entering the contest and jumped out to a 10-0 lead until late in the 3rd quarter when Elliott Fry made it 10-3 with a field goal. Carolina’s defense did not allow Vanderbilt to score over the final 44:32 of the game, allowing Carolina to mount a comeback behind quarterback Perry Orth. Deebo Samuel scampered in for an 8 yard touchdown midway through the 4th quarter before Vanderbilt missed a potential go ahead field goal late in the game. Carolina was able to get to the Vanderbilt 38 yard line with 41 seconds remaining. Carolina opted to send out Elliott Fry to attempt a 55 yard field goal. Fry crushed the 55 yarder right down the middle to give Carolina a 13-10 victory in Nashville to begin Muschamp’s tenure as head coach of the Gamecocks.

October 16th, 2021. The Zeb Noland game. This may have been the worst football game I ever watched that had the greatest ending I have ever seen in person. Carolina was in search of their first SEC win of the season, as was Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt led 20-14 with 1:36 remaining before former graduate assistant Zeb Noland had to step in for an injured Luke Doty at quarterback. Noland engineered a 75 yard touchdown drive, capped off by a 9 yard touchdown pass to Xavier Legette to give the Gamecocks Shane Beamer his first SEC victory at Carolina.

Vanderbilt v South Carolina Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images