The ninth-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks narrowly avoided an upset in their season opener, beating the Vanderbilt Commodores 17-13 on Thursday night. Considering South Carolina's status as a national title contender this year, a defeat against Vanderbilt would have been considered a major blow to those aspirations.
With starting quarterback Connor Shaw battling an apparent shoulder injury, the Gamecocks struggled to put away the Commodores on Thursday. After initially trailing 10-0 in the second quarter, Vanderbilt came back to take a 13-10 lead midway through the third quarter as Shaw was being treated by the training staff.
In a back-and-forth game, the tides turned once again after Shaw's return to the field, though. After a couple of stunted possessions, Shaw led the Gamecocks on a nine-play, 65-yard drive in the fourth quarter that allowed South Carolina to take the four-point lead that would eventually become the margin of victory.
Overall, Shaw completed 7-of-11 passes for 67 yards in addition to rushing for 92 yards on 14 carries. He did throw an interception, one of two early South Carolina turnovers, but he managed the game well at the end to finish things out. Marcus Lattimore also played well, rushing 23 times for 109 yards and two touchdowns on the night.
Vanderbilt managed to beat the spread despite the defeat, as South Carolina was either a 6.5- or 7-point favorite for this week. With the victory, the No. 9 Gamecocks improve to 1-0 on the season before they take on East Carolina next week. Vanderbilt is scheduled to play Northwestern in its next game.