South Carolina upset Missouri in a dramatic overtime game Saturday night, dashing the Tigers' national title hopes and sending Gamecock fans into celebration.
The Tigers took a 17-0 lead into the fourth quarter, dominating the first 45 minutes of play. They scored on Marcus Murphy's 11-yard run, L'Damian Washington's 96-yard touchdown reception from Maty Mauk and Andrew Baggett's 27-yard field goal.
But all of that was undone in a triumphant fourth quarter for South Carolina and quarterback Connor Shaw, who returned early from injury to lead his team to the improbable comeback victory. Shaw threw two touchdowns passes in the fourth quarter -- one to Bruce Ellington and one to Nick Jones with just 42 seconds left to tie the game at 17-17.
In overtime, Missouri got the ball first and scored on Marcus Murphy's one-yard touchdown run. Shaw responded with a fourth-and-15 touchdown pass to Bruce Ellington to tie it up, but the Gamecocks had to settle for a field goal when they opened double overtime.
When Missouri opened up its second overtime with an 18-yard run from Murphy, it looked like the Tigers would certainly tie the game, if not win it. Three plays later, Baggett missed the 24-yard field goal, giving the Gamecocks the win.
I went over and asked him, "Can you play?" He said, "Sure." I said, "Well, we've got to make the move now." Dylan was just a little off. He had a few guys that I thought may be open and he zinged 'em out. But it just wasn't his night. And Connor gave us a little sharpness in there... It was do or die. We had no chance in the division unless we win this one. We probably could have put him in there a little earlier. But it worked out.
Over at Rock M Nation, Bill Connelly said that while the game hurt, the move from the Big 12 to the SEC means that the Tigers will have painful losses like this more than once.
Missouri has been closing games like crazy in the fourth quarter but didn't tonight. Missouri has been making the key plays and pulling away but didn't tonight. The Tigers needed just one more play but couldn't find it. As a result, they lost. It's really hard to win every football game, and it's doubly hard to win every SEC football game. Mizzou couldn't get it done, and now the scramble to still claim the East title begins. It'll be tough, just like it'll be tough any time Missouri has a really good football team. This is what we signed up for when we agreed to leave for the SEC: tough schedules, incredible wins, and incredible losses. We've had both this season, and we'll have a ton of both moving forward. The pain lets you know you're alive; and both you and Missouri are really, really alive right now.
Brandon Larrabee at Team Speed Kills said the game was an exciting watch for SEC fans, and should open up the East division race.
Everyone with the possible exception of Missouri fans should be glad that all those hurdles were cleared and the unlikely game happened -- because it was a barnburner and one of the more entertaining games in an SEC East season already filled with drama and surprises. With a 17-point fourth quarter and a two-overtime victory, South Carolina kept itself alive in the division race, though Missouri still leads by a game. At the same time, the Tigers' national championship hopes came crashing down to earth, and they have to recover to win out over their next four SEC matchups.
Steven Godfrey wrote an excellent piece about the fan environment in Columbia, and said that while some fans were distracted by the Cardinals' World Series game, it was still a packed house and an exciting environment.
Even as both teams traded touchdowns to open overtime, throngs of fans gathered in the tunnels to watch the World Series on one concession stand TV or the stadium Jumbotron, bouncing between concern for the Cardinals' David Freese and Mizzou's Maty Mauk. In addition to showing the game in the concourse, Faurot Field's AV team provided audio and video score updates by inning, eliciting some of the night's biggest cheers. If that rankles your sense of what a SEC fan base should act like, it's worth noting that Missouri's student section was full before, during, and after the Tigers' Andrew Baggett shanked a 24-yard field goal in the second OT.