A fourth-quarter rally by the South Carolina Gamecocks wasn’t enough to pull off the home upset over the heavily favored Florida Gators, but South Carolina once again proved its mettle by refusing to give up despite being held scoreless through the first three quarters.

The Gamecocks have had a turbulent season after starting the year off with what is now looking like one of the better wins in college football so far: beating North Carolina on a neutral field. Head coach Steve Spurrier’s sudden resignation took everyone by surprise, but interim coach Shawn Elliott has done an amazing job of keeping the players invested and playing hard. They should likely get another taste of sweet victory on Saturday as they face off against in-state FCS foe The Citadel.

The Citadel has put up decent offensive numbers so far, including a scoring average of 33 points per game, but the fact of the matter is the Bulldogs have yet to face an FBS opponent, let alone one from the SEC.

Though the Gamecocks have lost three straight games and their only conference win so far was a victory over Vanderbilt, they deserve credit for the effort they continue to demonstrate on a weekly basis. Texas A&M, Tennessee and Florida have rosters of talent exceeding that of USC, but Elliott’s team has given all of them a run for their money the past three weeks.

Pharoh Cooper continues to distinguish himself as one of college football’s top overall players. He added to his resume with a 17-yard touchdown pass to quarterback Perry Orth in the fourth quarter, only to find himself on the receiving end of another 38-yard touchdown pass, thrown by Orth, a few minutes later.

There are not many teams that possess the clientele capable of stopping such a dynamic playmaker as Cooper, including The Citadel. Look for Cooper to get involved early and often in a variety of forms and fashions.

South Carolina should be pleased with how it has played in the wake of such an unexpected coaching departure. This weekend should give the players, coaches and fans plenty of reason to smile as they are able to see their hard work on the field finally materialize into a win. The defense should build on the confidence it’s gained from forcing 10 turnovers over the four games since Elliott took over as coach.

Often big-time programs tend to overlook the “cupcakes” on their schedule, a trend which has put several traditional powers on upset alert against much smaller schools (see Auburn’s near loss to Jacksonville State this year).

South Carolina has made one thing clear: It is not taking anything for granted. Instead of throwing in the towel, the team has bonded together and fought like a true SEC football team.