COLUMBIA — Were you there? What do you remember? What was the biggest play?
Those have been popular topics this week. South Carolina is playing Alabama for the first time in nine years, and that memorable game at Williams-Brice Stadium in 2010 wound up being the biggest upset — and maybe the best game — in Gamecock football history.
USC’s 35-21 upset of the No. 1 Crimson Tide was incredible, but none of the current Gamecocks players or coaches were there.
Yet it did happen. Rather than relive that moment in history again, here's a look at the Gamecocks’ other greatest upsets. Lists are always subjective and can be rearranged, especially if there’s another huge upset to add later on.
10. USC 24, No. 19 Ohio State 7
Jan. 1, 2001
The Gamecocks arrived in Tampa for the Outback Bowl without their star running back. Derek Watson, who rushed for 1,066 yards that season, wrecked a teammate’s car while driving with a suspended license, so coach Lou Holtz suspended him. That removed an SEC-best 166.7 all-purpose yards per game from the Gamecocks’ offense, which finished the regular season with three straight losses.
Holtz turned to sophomore Ryan Brewer, a kid from Troy, Ohio, who wanted nothing more than to play for the Buckeyes when he was in high school. Brewer promptly rushed for 109 yards and caught three passes for 92 more yards, scoring every USC touchdown.
9. USC 17, No. 17 Michigan 14
Sept. 27, 1980
The game that really pushed George Rogers into the nation’s eye as a Heisman Trophy contender, a path he would blaze throughout that season to the award. Rogers galloped for 142 yards against the Wolverines, but it was the defense that saved the day.
With Michigan at the Gamecocks’ 3-yard line and time running out, USC’s Hal Henderson sacked quarterback John Wangler. On fourth down, Wangler wanted to get the ball to star receiver Anthony Carter, but USC's Chuck Finney read the play perfectly and tipped the pass harmlessly away.
8. USC 16, No. 4 Ole Miss 10
Sept. 24, 2009
Supreme pass-rusher Eric Norwood ended Rebels quarterback Jevan Snead’s Heisman hopes with a performance that should have had Norwood on the Heisman watch list. He led the Gamecocks with 10 tackles, including two sacks in the game.
It was just the second time the Gamecocks beat a Top 5 team and the first time they did it at home. The game also ushered in an unofficial fight song.
Darude, a DJ from Finland, recorded “Sandstorm” a decade earlier. The powers-that-be at USC decided to play it during a crucial point, it stuck and is now played before every game. The north end zone, crammed with students jumping and waving white towels over their heads, is quite the sight.
7. USC 34, No. 15 Clemson 17
Nov. 28, 2009
The game looked to be a wash, especially when the Tigers' C.J. Spiller returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown. Clemson, after losing three of its first five games that season, reeled off six straight wins and had locked up a berth in the ACC championship game. The Tigers were averaging over 40 points per game. USC had lost three straight.
Yet even after Spiller’s TD and a Stephen Garcia interception, the Gamecocks’ defense began forcing turnovers. Steve Spurrier gambled, putting cornerback Stephon Gilmore in as a Wildcat quarterback, and Gilmore got USC in position for its first touchdown.
The win began an unprecedented streak of five straight victories over the Tigers.
6. USC 17, No. 12 Georgia 10
Sept. 29, 1984
The start of Black Magic. The Gamecocks, after squeaking past The Citadel and a bad Duke team, upset Georgia and began the march to what would eventually be a No. 2 ranking.
Paul Vogel recovered a Georgia fumble on the Gamecocks’ 2-yard line to sustain a small lead at halftime, but quarterback Allen Mitchell whacked his hand on a helmet and couldn’t get any feeling back in it. Coach Joe Morrison turned to a backup QB who would become synonymous with comebacks.
Mike Hold flicked a 61-yard catch-and-run to Ira Hillary, took the touchdown in himself and watched his defense, the venerable “Fire Ants,” force two punts in the final eight minutes.
5. No. 20 USC 27, No. 5 Missouri 24 (2OT)
Oct. 26, 2013
“The Miracle at Mizzou.” Down 17-0 and unable to do anything against a Tigers team experiencing a dream season, the Gamecocks turned to their salvation — a sawed-off, crew-cut runt from Georgia who never did anything but win football games.
Connor Shaw had a partially torn knee ligament and was so sick he couldn't keep any fluids down. Yet he engineered one of the most stunning endings USC has ever seen.
Bruce Ellington, Nick Jones and Elliott Fry scored to tie the game, then came the moment. Facing fourth-and-goal from the 15-yard line in overtime, Shaw rammed his foot into the turf, put everything he had left into the throw and watched Ellington gather in the touchdown to send the game to another overtime.
In the second OT, Fry booted his field goal through. Missouri’s Andrew Baggett didn’t.
4. USC 30, No. 12 Florida 22
Nov. 12, 2005
Spurrier’s second try as an SEC head coach wasn’t going well. The Gamecocks were crushed by Alabama and Auburn to leave them 0-3 in the SEC.
Yet USC caught fire, winning four straight, including the Gamecocks’ first win at Tennessee. Then came Florida, a team USC had never beaten since joining the SEC and hadn’t beaten at all since 1939.
Mike Davis and Daccus Turman each ran for two touchdowns while defensive lineman Chris “Chubby Boy” Tucker returned an interception to the Gators’ 5. The clock ran out after Florida had 12 men on the field.
3. USC 21, No. 9 Georgia 10
Sept. 9, 2000
Georgia had Heisman Trophy hopeful Quincy Carter at quarterback. The Gamecocks had just broken a 21-game losing streak the week before.
Carter threw five interceptions as Gamecock fans tore down the goalposts for the second straight week. USC finished 8-4 after going winless the year before, the second-biggest turnaround in college football history.
2. USC 21, No. 15 Mississippi State 6
Oct. 17, 1992
The Gamecocks were 0-5 in their first year in the SEC. That very week, a majority of players had voted for coach Sparky Woods to resign and left the voting tallies on a board for him to see.
Woods told them all he’d be at practice, everyone showed up and that Saturday USC started its third quarterback of the young season, a long-haired, earring-wearing freshman from Pennsylvania whose arm was nearly as big as his mouth. Steve Taneyhill led the Gamecocks to an upset of Mississippi State and USC won five of its next six games. It was the greatest losing season in USC history.
1. No. 19 USC 35, No. 1 Alabama 21
Oct. 9, 2010
The only time USC has beaten a team ranked No. 1, and Alabama was the defending national champion and winner of 19 straight games.
“We got the lining kicked out of our britches in the game over there,” coach Nick Saban said.
Garcia played the game of his life, Alshon Jeffery starred and Marcus Lattimore was on his way to an SEC Freshman of the Year season. Everything worked — a Garcia intentional safety didn’t come back to haunt, USC sniffed out an Alabama fake kick and Spurrier, again, proved that getting older doesn’t necessarily mean you're slowing down.
The Best of the Rest:
No. 12 USC 20, No. 8 Clemson 7, Nov. 21, 1987
“Raaaahhhhdddd-neeeeeee, Raaaahhhhdddd-neeeeeee … ”
USC 38, Southern Cal 14, Oct. 1, 1983
The Williams-Brice stands are designed to shift side-to-side, but the actual sensation un-nerved some fans. Coach Joe Morrison quipped, “If they ain’t swayin,’ we ain’t playin.’”
USC 16, No. 23 Tennessee 15, Oct. 29, 2005
Peyton Manning never could beat Spurrier. On the night Manning’s jersey was retired in Knoxville, Spurrier again beat the Volunteers. Josh Brown kicked a 49-yard, crossbar-scraping field goal for the final tally.
“I’ve finally got a new line,” Spurrier smirked. “God is smiling on the Gamecocks.”
USC 23, No. 25 Mississippi State 19, Sept. 23, 2000
Strange but true – when talking it over with the coaches just before he had to sub in for the injured Phil Petty, Erik Kimrey never said the word, “fade.”
“I said, let’s run 18,” Kimrey said. That play was to throw a fade, but he never said the word.
His fade touchdown pass to Jermale Kelly beat the Bulldogs and made Kimrey a folk hero. He still calls his podcast, “Fade In.”
No. 6 USC 35, No. 5 Georgia 7, Oct. 6, 2012
If there was ever a game that was over with five minutes left in the first quarter, it was this one. When Ace Sanders returned that punt to make it 21-0, the Bulldogs were done. Williams-Brice Stadium has never been louder.
USC 24, Tennessee 23, Oct. 31, 1992
Hank Campbell stopped James Stewart on a two-point conversion to keep the magic of that season alive. Taneyhill won again, it was Johnny Majors’ last game as Tennessee’s head coach, they filmed scenes from “The Program” at halftime …
On Halloween, with coach Sparky Woods still patrolling USC’s sideline, one guy had a poster saying, “It’s Spooky!”
USC 31, No. 3 North Carolina 13, Oct 24, 1981
The Gamecocks’ only top-five win before Ole Miss in 2009, and it came on the road.
USC 23, No. 14 Georgia 21, Sept. 4, 1993
“Bennett, a great athlete, leaps over the pile and broke our hearts with two seconds to go … ”
Fabled Georgia announcer Larry Munson mourned Brandon Bennett’s goal-line jump to beat the Bulldogs between the hedges on opening day of the 1993 season. While the Gamecocks would only win four games that year, leading to Woods’ firing, it was notable for another reason.
Junior safety Will Muschamp was on the Georgia sideline, watching that play.