COLUMBIA, S.C. - Stephen Garcia threw three touchdown passes, two to Alshon Jeffery, and Marcus Lattimore scored three times as No. 19 South Carolina stunned No. 1 Alabama, 35-21, yesterday.
Never before had the Gamecocks (4-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) beaten a team ranked No. 1 in football.
But facing a third consecutive ranked SEC team caught up with Alabama as Garcia and the Gamecocks used the Crimson Tide's formula for success: cashing in on chances close to the goal line and limiting the country's best tailback duo, Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, to 64 yards.
South Carolina shredded the country's top-rated scoring defense, putting up the most points on Alabama (5-1, 2-1) since a 41-34 loss to LSU in 2007. The Gamecocks scored four touchdowns when they got inside the 'Bama 20 - double what the Crimson Tide had allowed coming in.
"It's not like we just lost. They beat us," said Alabama coach Nick Saban, now 1-3 against Spurrier. "They outexecuted us. They played better than we played. They played with more intensity. They played physical."
Alabama tried to rally back as it had against Arkansas two games ago, this time cutting SC's 21-3 lead to 28-21 with most of the fourth quarter left.
The Crimson Tide's charge came courtesy of a 51-yard touchdown catch by Darius Hanks, a field goal and an odd safety by Garcia, who grabbed a wayward shotgun snap and flung it through his own end zone from about the 2.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Jeffery, the SEC's leading receiver, bobbled a catch into the hands of Tide defensive back Will Lowery for an interception. But McElroy was sacked for a 7-yard loss by Stephon Gilmore and Saban called a fake field goal that didn't work as defensive lineman Ed Stinson dropped the throw from holder A.J. McCarron.
South Carolina answered with a 75-yard drive, capped by Lattimore's 2-yard score with 7:01 left.