In a game that could not have gone anymore haywire if it tried, South Carolina-Georgia still found a way to end in a rather anticlimactic, though still totally unexpected, way: a missed field goal from the usually reliable Rodrigo Blankenship.
While it undersells the insanity of the game, it was something that felt right given the ugly nature of how this game played out. Georgia, the third-best team in the country, was playing at home against an unranked conference opponent that began the game with a freshman quarterback, but then had to switch to its third-string quarterback after the first guy got hurt. If that wasn’t enough, the home team was were favored by 23.5 points.
And yet, when the Gamecocks took the field, none of this mattered. Will Muschamp’s aggressive defensive philosophy terrified the Bulldogs into a mental corner that had them outright forgetting just how much better they should have been. A perfect example of this psychological rattling coming to life happened just before halftime, when pressure from South Carolina forced Jake Fromm to attempt very ill-advised throw which led to a pick-six from Israel Mukuamu, the Gamecock’s first of three.
That halftime score is what drew the attention of many to this particular game, and those who tuned in at the beginning of the third quarter got to see just how South Carolina was manhandling Georgia in the trenches. But that was only on one side of the ball. Those expecting any modicum of offense were likely disappointed in the immediate term because here’s how the next nine combined drives ended: punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, fumble, punt, interception (Mukuamu’s second of the day), punt.
Sometime after that Big 10 cosplay, Fromm and the rest of the Bulldogs remembered just how much better they were supposed to be than their opponents. The flipped switch led to a 13-play, 96-yard drive that tied the game at 17 with 1:48 left to play. Was that too much time left for a team that had found a way to surprise Georgia at every turn? Under normal circumstances, yes. However, today was apparently all about chaos.
South Carolina’s offense got the ball to the 40-yard line and were stuck in a 4th-and-3 with 40 seconds of game time remaining. Muschamp, despite being aggressive all day and having a unit on the field that probably could have gotten the three yards necessary for the first down, took the coward’s way out with his field goal unit. The 57-yarder was not close.
So what did the Bulldogs do with this incredible field position, and two timeouts? Well, they also mucked up an opportunity to go for the win, knocking themselves out of field goal range with an illegal shift penalty. Kirby Smart elected not to go for the 60-yarder—maybe because he was on Alabama’s staff when Auburn’s kick-six happened—and tried a Hail Mary that failed.
This trend of each team handing the other an opportunity to win continued in overtime. First, a Georgia receiver was unable to corral a pass from Fromm and ended up tipping it to Mukuamu for his third pick of the game.
All South Carolina had to do to pull off the upset was score some sort of points on their ensuing drive. Even after doing that thing where the ball-carrier rushes to the part of the field the kicker likes to kick field goals from, Gamecocks kicker Parker White missed wide right.
However, White’s short memory helped bring the game to a merciful end when he did his part and converted his chip-shot 24-yarder at the end of his team’s first drive in the second overtime period. The subsequent miss from Georgia resulted in a hearty celebration from South Carolina, and featured this impressive display of masculinity from Jeff Dillman, the director of football strength & conditioning.