South Carolina’s undefeated season drowned in a sea of red Saturday in the Peach State.
USC (2-1, 0-1 SEC) was smothered from start to finish as No. 2 Georgia (3-0, 1-0 SEC) swallowed the Gamecocks’ offense 40-13 for the first loss of the Shane Beamer era.
After narrowly escaping East Carolina a week ago, South Carolina was mauled by a Georgia defense that ranked as the nation’s No. 1 unit heading into Saturday’s meeting and looked the part as swaths of red pom poms erupted around Sanford Stadium.
The Bulldogs dipped, dove, dodged and straight up bullied the Gamecocks’ offensive line to the tune of three sacks, six tackles for a loss and two South Carolina turnovers.
Taking a snap from the one-yard line with under a minute remaining in the first half, quarterback Luke Doty — who made his first appearance of the season of the season after Zeb Noland exited with a hand injury — was swarmed and sacked by defensive linemen Jordan Davis and Nolan Smith as the Gamecocks offensive line was pushed more than five yards into its own end zone.
Doty was again throttled on the second drive of the third quarter when Georgia linebacker Nolan Smith zipped past left tackle Jazston Turnetine, sacked Doty and forced a fumble that was scooped up by Quay Walker.
With the South Carolina offense sputtering, Georgia quarterback J.T. Daniels reminded onlookers why he remains a Heisman Trophy darkhorse as he completed 17 of 21 passes for a pair of touchdowns in the first half alone.
Daniels was surgical as he sliced and diced the South Carolina secondary that was twice beat over the top for touchdown passes of 35-yards or more in the opening 30 minutes Saturday.
If there were any bright spots in Saturday’s train wreck, South Carolina receiver Josh Vann continued his breakout season. Thrice Vann beat defenders downfield for long receptions in the first half, though one was called back upon review.
The Georgia native finished the night with three catches for 128 yards. Vann’s 61-yard first quarter reception pushed his season receiving total to 204 yards, which is more than he’d ever recorded in a full season since arriving at South Carolina in 2018.
South Carolina entered Saturday as nearly five touchdown underdogs. Georgia didn’t quite cover that spread, but the contest never approached competitive.
The Gamecocks stunned college football with their 2019 upset of the Bulldogs in Athens. Saturday, Kirby Smart, who was flanked by former USC head coach and UGA defensive analyst Will Muschamp, took South Carolina to the woodshed and then some.
Shane Beamer’s first year in Columbia was always going to be a rebuilding year. Saturday was a reminder of how far South Carolina has to climb toward the top of its own division, let alone the conference at large.
South Carolina has now lost six of its last seven against Georgia, the lone win coming in 2019. The Gamecocks also haven’t won in back-to-back trips to Athens since downing the Bulldogs on the road in 1989 and 1993 — the only time it’s ever happened.
USC has also 2-12 against in its last 14 games against Associated Press Top 25 teams.
South Carolina’s running game crashed back to earth on Saturday. After running for 124 yards in the second half against East Carolina last week, the Gamecocks mustered just 1.8 yards per rush through three quarters Saturday.
Kevin Harris received his heaviest workload of the season, recording 29 yards on 15 touches. Harris missed the season opener against Eastern Illinois recovering from an offseason back procedure.
Parker White continued his run at South Carolina’s all-time scoring record with a pair of made field goals Saturday.
After drilling the game-winning kick a week ago in Greenville, North Carolina, White nailed kicks from 37 and 27 yards in the first half against Georgia. He’s now just 49 points shy of South Carolina’s career mark.
Jaylan Foster recoded a pair of interceptions off Georgia quarterbacks JT Daniels and Stetson Bennett on Saturday night. Foster notched one pick and had another called back during USC’s season opener against Eastern Illinois.
3 — South Carolina forced three turnovers Saturday night
303 — Georgia QB JT Daniels finished his night with 303 passing yards in three-plus quarters
Next South Carolina Football Game
Who: South Carolina vs. Kentucky
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, September 25
Where: Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, SC
TV: ESPN 2