Steve Spurrier has made South Carolina-Georgia rivalry meaningful again
Since Steve Spurrier arrived at South Carolina for the 2005 season, nastiness levels have risen in the Gamecocks-Bulldogs Eastern Division rivalry.
The Head Ball Coach turned the temperature setting up a notch on the border war between neighboring states, due in large part to South Carolina’s recent recruiting traction in the area and dominance in a series dating back to 1894.
Georgia owns the one-sided rivalry all-time, winning 47 of 67 meetings, but the Gamecocks have won four of the last five, ultimately keeping the Bulldogs out of the national title picture during South Carolina’s best five-year stretch in school history.
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Georgia fans hardly respected the rivalry before Spurrier, the hated ex-Gators coach, landed in Columbia. Rarely a competitive challenger within the SEC, South Carolina was merely a minor speed bump that came just ahead of Kentucky and Vanderbilt in the East pecking order.
Mark Richt has never been one for noteworthy soundbites, but Spurrier’s had fun with the rivalry and provided plenty of bulletin board material prior to gamedays over the last decade. His best however came before he became leader of the Gamecocks:
“I sort of always liked playing (Georgia) that second game because you could always count on them having two or three key players suspended.”
The tables have turned since the HBC took over a historically-mediocre program and now the early-season matchup often dictates which team has the September lead in the race to Atlanta.
South Carolina’s only division title in program history kicked off the memorable run when true freshman Marcus Lattimore, drawing comparisons to Herschel Walker, posted the first of three straight 100-yard games — all wins — against the Bulldogs in 2010.
Georgia-South Carolina rivalry at a glance (since 2005)
- Series tied at five
- Six games decided by 7 points or less
- All 10 contests nationally-televised
- Four games pitting both teams ranked
Rivalry’s memorable recent moments
- 2013 — Aaron Murray, the SEC’s all-time leading passer, ended his winless streak against the Gamecocks with a heroic 300-yard, four-touchdown effort between the hedges during a 41-30 victory.
- 2012 — South Carolina’s school-record 10th straight win featured a dazzling 70-yard punt return for a touchdown from Ace Sanders that sent a record crowd of 85,199 at Williams-Brice Stadium into a frenzy against the fifth-ranked Bulldogs with five minutes left in the first quarter. The Gamecocks’ 35-7 win was their highest-margin of victory ever in the rivalry.
- 2011 — Historically low-scoring, the rivalry kicked into overdrive during a division title year for Georgia when South Carolina won a 45-42 shootout in Athens thanks to three non-offensive touchdowns including a 68-yard fake punt from All-American defensive tackle Melvin Ingram.
- 2008 — Georgia linebacker Rennie Curran forced a crucial fumble from Mike Davis at the goal line in the fourth quarter during the second-ranked Bulldogs’ thrilling 14-7 slugfest win.
- 2002 — Arguably the rivalry’s most memorable play in the last two decades was David Pollack’s touchdown-takedown of Gamecocks quarterback Corey Jenkins in his own end zone. Dropping back to throw, Jenkins had the ball taken out of his hand for a score by Georgia’s All-American pass rusher and current ESPN analyst.