Your NFL replacement refs jokes at the end of South Carolina-Vanderbilt: they were entirely merited. Jordan Matthews had a very good chance at converting a first down and then some with the Dores trailing by four points late, but a missed pass interference call gave the ball to the Gamecocks, setting up an easy bit of clock-killing.
It's the kind of thing that's been happening to Vandy for decades now. James Franklin can change the program's mindset and aura, but it seems so far at least he's got nothing on random breaks like this one.
Via @cjzero, Matthews still almost found a way to bring it in:
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.
The launching Vandy defensive back here is all, "JUSTICE SERVED," but Justice Cunningham popped back up with the ball anyway, shaking his dreads as if he'd like another one of those whenever you get a chance.
Through three quarters, South Carolina is on pace to pass for 40 yards in an entire game. The Steve Spurrier we grew up on regularly administered multiple 40-yard passes per game. Yet here we are, watching injured quarterback Connor Shaw run tentative options stuff and checkdowns to Marcus Lattimore.
Lattimore doesn't quite seem 100 percent either -- there's got to be some explanation for the SEC's most renowned running back having only 14 carries so far, right?
Spurrier's had to adjust his style since re-entering the SEC, becoming pretty much a whimsical Nick Saban instead of a mad gunner. And Carolina's offense has certainly had its hideous games over the past few years, (including an 87-yard passing effort last year) and Lattimore's carried the entire show multiple times. But this ... this is something.
Vanderbilt is tied with South Carolina 10-10 at the half in Nashville despite finding a way to squander two colossal breaks on first quarter Gamecock turnovers. Carolina quarterback Connor Show left the game late in the second quarter with after a head-first slide with what's been officially called a shoulder contusion. Former Heisman dark horse Marcus Lattimore returned to his frightening form for a single play on a 29 yard touchdown run, but has been limited to 37 yards on his 11 other carries.
Despite the return of Lattimore from ACL surgery and Shaw's apparent game-ending injury, the story has been Vanderbilt's inability to capitalize early and their subsequent comeback. Following a failed fourth down conversion on the game's opening drive, Lattimore fumbled the ball on South Carolina's first play from scrimmage, setting up the Commodores on the South Carolina 44-yard-line. Vandy would punt, but regain control when Shaw's first pass of the night was picked off by free safety Kenny Ladler, who jumped the route as Shaw stared down receiver Bruce Ellington.
Commodores quarterback Jordan Rodgers would hand momentum right back, throwing a lob pass off his back foot that was intercepted by SC's Shaq Wilson at the Carolina 14-yard-line. Lattimore would score two plays later. Vanderbilt would cut a 10-0 lead when Rodgers would hit Jordan Matthews for a 78-yard touchdown.
Shaw was only 3-of-6 passing for 23 yards, but worked effectively on keepers and the speed option (59 yards rushing on nine carries). Rodgers is 8-of-13 for 164 yards, one TD and one INT at the half.
You can tell because you survived reading that. Through eight minutes, he's lined up in at least three different spots, grabbed two tackles for loss, sacked Jordan Rodgers and appeared very close to the ball on every play.
Doesn't matter for much when Marcus Lattimore fumbles on his first carry since his season-ending injury and Connor Shaw throws a pick on his first heave, but still! Jadeveon Clowney is terrifying!