NCAA Football: Tennessee in South Carolina

Tennessee, No. 5, is out of the college football playoff race after losing a shocker (63-38) in the away game against South Carolina. The Gamecocks scored nine of their ten full possessions against the Volunteers to record the biggest win in matchup history, surpassing a 24-0 win in South Carolina in 1903.

The Gamecocks were without a lead from running back Marshawn Lloyd and came out with a 38-6 loss in Florida after a stunningly poor performance last week. However, South Carolina set the tone early by jumping to the Volunteers 21-7 in the first quarter. Quarterback Spencer Rattler hit on touchdown passes from 60, 19 and 11 yards and shell-shocked a shaky Tennessee defense.

Rattler was shaky in his freshman season in South Carolina, throwing eight touchdowns and nine interceptions, but he displayed the arm talent that made him one of the top-rated quarterback recruits of the past five years. The Oklahoma transfer threw for 438 yards and a program record six touchdowns to decimate the Vols defense. Wide receiver Antwane Wells Jr. led with 11 catches for 177 yards while Jaheim Bell and Josh Vann each had two touchdowns.

Tennessee QB Hendon Hooker struggled, but the Vols struggled to keep up with the Gamecocks’ barrage. The Volunteers went on a 24-14 run through the middle two quarters, but South Carolina came back into the end zone behind a nine-game 65-yard drive and went up to 42-31. Hooker threw for 247 yards and three touchdowns but went down with one on the Gamecocks score obviously serious injury on the left knee. After Hooker was out, South Carolina went on a 21-0 run to end the game and pull off the massive upset.

Backup quarterback Joe Milton III came on and threw for 108 yards and a touchdown, but Rattler started two touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone. Milton’s touchdown toss against Cedric Tillman came with just 1:14 remaining.

The loss officially knocked Tennessee out of the College Football Playoffs picture, with just one game left against Vanderbilt. The Vols were just on the outside, looking at No. 5 in the CFP rankings, and they may have jumped into the top 4 after next week’s fight between No. 2 Ohio State and No. 3. However, two losses and an inability to get a key data point in a conference championship game make the path nearly impossible. Tennessee coach Josh Heupel said Hooker will be evaluated further when the team returns to Knoxville.

South Carolina’s win secures a second straight winning season for Shane Beamer as the Gamecocks advance to 7-4 in the campaign. The program has achieved this feat only once since Steve Spurrier retired in 2015.