Reliving South Carolina’s nation-leading 18-game home win streak

NCAA Football: Florida at South Carolina

Major television networks have showcased many hold-your-breath moments and spotlight wins, lopsided blowouts and unexpected finishes.

But what’s it going to take, amidst a nation-leading 18-game winning streak, for South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium to command the respect it deserves from a national audience?

Williams-Brice has served as the SEC’s epicenter for home-field greatness since 2011, delivering a certain magic often reserved for the bleachers at historic venues in Baton Rouge and Gainesville.

RELATED: Williams-Brice quietly becoming SEC’s toughest venue

Long removed from the program’s modern era low point, an 11-game home losing skid spanning the 1998 and 1999 seasons, South Carolina’s backed by a rabid fanbase that’s taken to ‘Sandstorm’ as much as ’2001′ when the team preps for battle during the golden years of the Steve Spurrier era.

Will it take seven more wins and the 2014 Eastern Division championship this season to push Williams-Brice to the forefront of elite college football venues?

As the Gamecocks prep for their opener against new Western Division rival Texas A&M on SEC Network, let’s take a glance back at each win during ‘The Streak’:

Oct. 8, 2011: South Carolina 54, Kentucky 3

‘Connor Shaw takes over’

The winning streak started a week after a disappointing home setback to Auburn forced Steve Spurrier’s hand at quarterback. In his first home start, Connor Shaw threw for 311 yards and four touchdown passes during a romp of Kentucky. South Carolina out-gained the Wildcats that afternoon, 639-96, and posted their largest margin of victory against an SEC opponent during this three-year stretch.

Nov. 12, 2011: South Carolina 17, Florida 12

‘Gamecocks make history’

Two touchdown runs in the second quarter from Shaw and a career-high 120 yards rushing from Brandon Wilds was enough to provide South Carolina with its eighth win of the season. The win gave the Gamecocks their first sweep of the SEC East and six conference victories for the first time since joining the league in 1992.

Nov. 19, 2011: South Carolina 41, Citadel 20

‘Consecutive nine-win seasons’

Alshon Jeffery’s one-handed touchdown grab in the back of the end zone gave the Gamecocks their first lead in a game they would never trail despite a strong effort from the 35-point underdogs. The Citadel completed one pass for eight yards in the game, but had a seven-minute advantage in time of possession. South Carolina’s victory was its ninth marking the first time in school history the Gamecocks posted consecutive nine-win seasons.

Nov. 26, 2011: South Carolina 34, Clemson 13

‘Spurrier sends barb after third straight over rival’

“Historically, Clemson has owned this series,” Spurrier said after the three-touchdown win. “They don’t own us now.” Behind a sellout crowd and backed by a defense that limited Tajh Boyd to 83 yards through the air, the Gamecocks executed near flawlessly at home in a matchup pitting Top 20 teams.

Sept. 8, 2012: South Carolina 48, East Carolina 10

‘Dylan Thompson delivers after sweltering noon kick’

Thrust into a starting role under center, then-sophomore Dylan Thompson responded with a 330-yard, three-touchdown effort against the Pirates in a game that was over by halftime. South Carolina forced five turnovers and generated 528 yards of offense during Spurrier’s 199th career victory.

Sept. 15, 2012: South Carolina 49, UAB 6

‘Thompson comes through, again’

Subbing in for Shaw late in the second quarter after the Gamecocks’ starting quarterback injured his shoulder, Thompson connected with Damiere Byrd for a 94-yard touchdown in the third quarter that put the game away. He added a 30-yard scoring strike to Shaq Roland and finished with 177 yards passing.

Sept. 22, 2012: South Carolina 31, Missouri 10

‘Fast-pace offense flounders for Mizzou in first SEC road trip’

If 20 consecutive completions and two touchdown passes from Shaw wasn’t enough, the Gamecocks’ defense limited high-powered Mizzou to just 255 total yards — most coming in the fourth quarter — during an emphatic statement in the nationally-televised CBS 3:30 p.m. time slot. Quarterback James Franklin was sacked three times and never got into a rhythm. With the win, South Carolina improved 4-0 for just the ninth time in 119 years of football.

Oct. 6, 2012: South Carolina 35, Georgia 7

‘Ace Sanders greets College GameDay with a Williams-Brice salute’

Sold out at night. National television. Battle of Top 10 East heavyweights. Centered in the heart of the Palmetto State, ESPN couldn’t have asked for a better setting for another turf war to decide the upperhand in the Eastern Division. South Carolina’s first-quarter onslaught was perhaps the most emphatic opening 10 minutes in program history, capped by Sanders’ 70-yard punt return touchdown that nearly caused the student section to cave in. The victory gave South Carolina its first three-game winning streak over Georgia in program history.

Oct. 27, 2012: South Carolina 38, Tennessee 35

‘Jadeveon Clowney’s strip-sack saves Gamecocks, but Lattimore falls’

Coming off consecutive road losses to LSU and Florida, South Carolina responded with a dramatic three-point win over the upset-minded Vols who came into the game with the program’s worst defense in recent memory and winless in the SEC. Driving in Gamecock territory trailing 38-35 late in the fourth quarter, Tennessee’s Tyler Bray was sacked and stripped by Jadeveon Clowney to end the threat. Bray tossed an interception a few minutes later during the Vols’ last gasp to seal the win. Heisman candidate Marcus Lattimore suffered a catastrophic injury to his other knee earlier in the game, forcing him to miss the rest of the season.

Nov. 10, 2012: South Carolina 38, Arkansas 20

‘South Carolina breaks Razorback hex’

The Gamecocks snapped a personal three-game losing streak to Arkansas and improved to 8-2 on the season to remain in the Top 15. D.J. Swearinger’s 69-yard pick six following his own personal foul in the third quarter was the afternoon’s most impressive highlight.

Nov. 17, 2012: South Carolina 24, Wofford 7

‘Feisty Terriers frustrate 12th-ranked Gamecocks’

Option offenses have a history of neutralizing talent at the line of scrimmage and the Gamecocks saw it first-hand against this in-state FCS opponent. Tailback Kenny Miles responded on Senior Day with a 127-yard rushing effort in a game that wasn’t decided until the fourth quarter when Ace Sanders’ 8-yard touchdown reception with eight minutes to play provided South Carolina with a 10-point lead.

Aug. 29, 2013: South Carolina 27, North Carolina 10

‘Early fireworks plenty for Shaw, offense’

Not to be out-done by a sluggish Jadeveon Clowney who faced a multitude of questions about his offseason conditioning after a so-so performance, the Gamecocks made quick work of border rival North Carolina with a 17-point first quarter. On the third play from scrimmage, Shaw hit Shaq Roland in stride for a 65-yard touchdown and South Carolina would quickly add to it.

Sept. 14, 2013: South Carolina 35, Vanderbilt 25

‘Gamecocks hold off furious rally’

South Carolina outgained their Eastern Division rival 579-258 and scored touchdowns on its first four possessions before coughing it up three times in the second half and surviving by 10 points. The Commodores had a chance to cut the deficit to three points midway through the fourth but quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels threw an interception at South Carolina’s 1-yard line.

Oct. 5, 2013: South Carolina 35, Kentucky 28

‘Turnovers nearly ends streak in upset fashion’

The Gamecocks’ early-season challenge at putting teams away continued against the Wildcats after Kentucky scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns to pull within an onside kick recovery away from a chance at tying it up. Clowney was a late scratch due to rib soreness and unfortunately that became the story and led to verbal sparring with Spurrier the following week.

Nov. 2, 2013: South Carolina 34, Mississippi St. 16

‘Shaw’s four touchdown passes lifts South Carolina’

Coming off an emotional overtime win at Mizzou, South Carolina kept its division title hopes alive with an impressive win over Mississippi St. Shaw outshined Dak Prescott — who scored two rushing touchdowns but tossed three interceptions — after tying a career-high with four touchdown passes. Mike Davis added 128 yards on the ground averaging 8.5 yards per carry.

Nov. 16, 2013: South Carolina 19, Florida 14

‘Gamecocks manage hard-fought win, stay in East contention’

Down to its third-string quarterback, Florida stayed vanilla on offense and it nearly worked in a competitive contest under the lights at Williams-Brice. Gamecocks kicker Elliott Fry made four field goals but it was Auburn’s miraculous win over Georgia that lifted the home crowd to its biggest roar late in the first quarter. Knowing they still had a chance in the division after the Bulldogs’ loss, South Carolina shook off the pressure for its 16th straight home win.

Nov. 23, 2013: South Carolina 70, Coastal Carolina 10

‘Shaw sets wins mark as Gamecocks’ quarterback’

Thirty-two first downs and 639 yards of total offense. Everything went right for the South Carolina offense on this overcast afternoon against the Chanticleers, a team that was 10-1 in the FCS coming into the matchup. Shaw led three touchdown drives, Thompson led a couple of others and five different quarterbacks threw passes during the 60-point rout.

Nov. 30, 2013: South Carolina 31, Clemson 17

‘Late trickery pushes rivalry streak to five’

The Gamecocks kept their school record winning streak alive by shutting down a high-powered Clemson spread attack for the fifth consecutive season. Pharoh Cooper’s late touchdown pass from the Wildcat to Brandon Wilds sealed the Tigers’ fate in front of a sellout crowd and kept South Carolina in the Top 10.

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Photo Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

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