South Carolina football upset No. 15 Auburn 30-22 at home Saturday in front of a socially distanced crowd of 16,421 fans and are now 2-2 on the season. The Gamecocks trailed by two points at halftime, but key defensive stops and a strong second half offensive showing led them to their first victory over Auburn since 1933.
“I’m really proud of our football team. They showed a lot of resolve and fight,” head coach Will Muschamp said in a postgame press conference.
The Gamecocks were down at the end of the first quarter after an early field goal for Auburn and a touchdown shortly after. South Carolina’s defense stopped a 2-point conversion attempt by the Tigers, and after one quarter of play the score was 9-0.
In the second quarter, turnovers were the difference, Auburn quarterback Bo Nix was intercepted twice and the Gamecocks converted both turnovers into touchdowns. Despite the defense allowing another Auburn touchdown in the second, the Gamecocks only trailed by 2 points at the half for a score of 16-14.
South Carolina’s defense, led by junior defensive back Jaycee Horn, did not allow a touchdown after halftime. Horn recorded his first two career interceptions and four pass breakups during the game.
“I was just trying to take away the fade ball and make them beat me with everything else inside,” Horn said postgame. “That was the job I did, and it played out in our favor.”
The offense was also more efficient in the second half, which began with the power of the Gamecock running back duo in Kevin Harris and Deshaun Fenwick. Senior wide receiver Shi Smith was a stand-out performer in the game as well with eight receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown, including a 32-yard reception that he tipped to himself and caught while falling.
“It’s expected of me; I mean, making plays downfield, that’s something we got to get better at, as a offense,” Smith said postgame.
Muschamp said offensive coordinator Mike Bobo's commitment to the running game was a big part of the defense opening up.
“Offensively, we got some balance in the second half,” Muschamp said.
The Gamecocks put themselves in a position to win by being consistent offensively and by performing at a high level defensively in the red zone. This especially held true on Auburn's last drive of the game. South Carolina held the Tigers on fourth down inside the 10-yard line to preserve the lead and come away with an upset victory.
“I told them before we went out, I said, ‘leave no doubt, leave no doubt about our effort, our toughness, our discipline, the core values of our program,'” Muschamp said, noting that an opponent as tough as Auburn required this level of focus.
South Carolina’s next game will be at LSU on Oct. 24 at 7 p.m.