Steve Spurrier’s worst losses with the Gamecocks

jkendall@thestate.comJune 30, 2014 

With Steve Spurrier heading into his 10th season at South Carolina, Josh Kendall takes a look back at the Head Ball Coach's 10 worst losses with the Gamecocks.

1. AUBURN, OCT. 1, 2011

This was not the 2010 Tigers who won the national title. This was a team that would win eight games. One of those was a 16-13 victory against the No. 10 Gamecocks in Williams-Brice Stadium. “We’re not heartbroken,” Spurrier said. “We haven’t played well enough to expect to win.” The heartbreak would wait until later when South Carolina realized the loss cost it a spot in the SEC championship game. The Tigers ran 92 plays to South Carolina’s 52, and Marcus Lattimore was held to 66 yards. “Offensively, we could do nothing,” Spurrier said. “We were pretty sad, pretty sad the entire game.”

2. TENNESSEE, OCT. 19, 2013

The reason this game wasn’t worse than the previous entry is it was on the road. The Volunteers won two SEC games – one against Kentucky and the other was 23-21 against No. 11 South Carolina. The week after a 52-7 win against Arkansas, the Gamecocks outgained the Vols 384 to 325 but watched a 19-yard Michael Palardy field goal sail through with no time remaining. Once again, a loss to an unranked team would cost South Carolina a spot in the SEC title game.

3. KENTUCKY, OCT. 16, 2010

One week after beating No. 1 Alabama, South Carolina was ranked No. 10 in the country headed into Lexington, Ky. The Gamecocks left town with a 31-28 loss to a Wildcats team whose only other SEC win that year was against Vanderbilt. “Give Kentucky credit, they kicked our tails,” Spurrier said. It was the Wildcats’ first win against Spurrier in 18 tries, and it ended with Stephen Garcia throwing incomplete to Lamar Scruggs in the Wildcat end zone on the final play.

4. UCONN, JAN. 2, 2010

This loss – 20-7 in the Bowl – was one Spurrier didn’t quit talking about for eight months. In 30-degree weather, the Gamecocks gained 205 yards. “First thing I’m going to do, and, hopefully, about half the team does, is apologize to the 30,000 Gamecocks who came down here to see a football game and we couldn’t put one on,” Spurrier said. “I thought we were ready to play, but, obviously, our offense was very sad. All I can do is apologize.” He was still upset about the game during fall practice the next year, mentioning it several times during preseason practice.

5. FLORIDA, OCT. 20, 2012

Six-and-one and two weeks removed from a dominating 35-7 win against then-No. 5 Georgia, the Gamecocks went to Gainesville with a chance to win the SEC East. The defense surrendered 183 yards, but the offense and special teams gave the ball away three times in a 44-11 loss. “The only thing you can hope is that your guys give it their best shot and not just lay the ball down and basically say `Here Florida, we don’t want to win. You guys take this fumble and this fumble and this fumble.’ So it was sad.”

6. VANDERBILT, NOV. 11, 2007

The Gamecocks were 6-1 in Steve Spurrier’s third season with the loss coming by eight points on the road to LSU. They were ranked No. 6 in the country, but they fell behind 17-0 and lost 17-6 on a day they rushed for 26 yards. It was the Commodores’ first win against Spurrier and its biggest upset in 70 years. “This should not be a shock to our team,” Spurrier said. “This should not be a shock. Hopefully, it will straighten them out.” It did not. Instead, it started a five-game losing streak to end that season.

7. IOWA, JAN. 1, 2009

Sitting at seven wins with three games left seemed a pretty good spot for a South Carolina team reaching for eight wins. The final three games went badly, though, featuring losses by a combined 118-30 to Florida, Clemson and the Hawkeyes, who won 31-10 in the Outback Bowl. Stephen Garcia got the start at quarterback and had four turnovers in the first half. He was the Gamecocks’ leading rusher with 25 yards, but was replaced by Chris Smelley, who led the team in passing. The Gamecocks added 10 penalties for 100 yards.

8. TENNESSEE, OCT. 31, 2009

The Gamecocks were ranked No. 21 but lost three fumbles and lost 31-13 to the Volunteers and coach Lane Kiffin. Tennessee warmed up in its traditional orange jerseys in Neyland Stadium and then came out for the game in black jerseys. Maybe that’s why the Gamecocks fumbled three times. “We had a lot of bad, bad plays and mental errors,” Spurrier said. “We didn’t play very well, and we got our tails beat.”

9. FLORIDA, NOV. 11, 2006

The Gamecocks had No. 6 Florida on the ropes in The Swamp most of the night, but Jarvis Moss blocked a 48-yard Ryan Succop field goal attempt on the final play of the game to preserve a 17-16 Gators win. It was the second blocked kick of the game for Moss and the third overall for the Gators. The Gamecocks outgained the Gators 410 yards to 401 on a night when backup quarterback Tim Tebow had 29 rushing yards and two incomplete passes. The narrow win kept the Gators alive for the national title, which they won by beating Ohio State, 41-14.

10. AUBURN, DEC. 4, 2010

There was no shame in losing to this Auburn team, which was on its way to the national title behind Cam Newton. The way South Carolina lost is the reason this game makes the list. The Tigers set SEC title game records for points (56), yards (589) and margin of victory (39 points) in a 56-17 win. “Maybe if we played these guys 10 times, they may win nine of them or more,” Spurrier said. Newton passed for 335 and ran for 73. “You can’t tackle him,” Spurrier said. “He’s almost a one-man show, but those guys really help and their receivers are really good. With that offensive line, it’s hard to stop him.”

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