That, to use the common vernacular, sucked. But in a very important way it wasn't surprising. For months Coach Saban has been telling everyone that this team is not defending anything, it is starting from scratch on it's own journey. And yesterday proved him completely right.
What we learned yesterday is what we already knew but now we can recognize it as such. This Crimson Tide squad is a very young team with a huge amount of talent and some very specific weaknesses. They are now 5-1 overall and facing one of the most difficult schedules in all of college football and everyone will be bringing their "A" game.
How they respond to this loss will determine if we have to suffer through Sunday reading stories like these again this season...
It had to happen sometime: No winning streak goes on forever, and the offseason questions about the Tide's totally revamped secondary finally came to pass. Alabama still controls its own destiny in the SEC, and has enough big games in front of it to make another run at the BCS championship, with some help. Everything we know about the Tide still suggests they should be in the mix down to the wire.
For 19 games, the University of Alabama football team had either overwhelmed opponents or found a way to get past the ones that weren’t overwhelmed. But in a classic case of role reversal, it was South Carolina that came out and took the fight to No. 1 Alabama, building a big early lead and making the big plays in the fourth quarter to fashion a 35-21 victory that snapped the Crimson Tide winning streak and made all sorts of Gamecocks history.
South Carolina deserved the victory. Alabama didn't give away the game. The Gamecocks flat-out pounded the Crimson Tide.
In front of a delirious home crowd, Garcia and the Gamecocks answered every challenge Alabama threw their way. It was the most impressive win in school history, at least by rank, since the Gamecocks began playing in 1892. South Carolina had never defeated a No. 1 team in football in four previous tries; its biggest scalp had been No. 3 North Carolina in 1981.
The only things intact after South Carolina’s 35-21 thrashing of top-ranked Alabama were the goal posts at Williams-Brice Stadium. Not that the students didn’t try for those, either.
And the shocking part wasn't that South Carolina scored 21 first-half points on the vaunted Alabama defense—we'll call that "very surprising" instead—it was how easily the Gamecocks scored those points. Their first three drives were met with all the resistance of a showdown between tissue paper and a falling bowling ball.
Was this the biggest victory of the Steve Spurrier Era? Heck, it only was the biggest win in school history. Who's afraid of the Big, Bad Elephant? Certainly not that team wearing garnet and black in Columbia.
It's hard to tease out how much of this game can be credited to great play by South Carolina and how much can be blamed on Alabama's mistakes. The Tide made plenty of mistakes -- a missed extra point, a missed field goal, a fake field goal attempt that featured the receiver dropping the ball -- but also ran into a team that was playing its best game of the Steve Spurrier Era. The win might actually be the best in South Carolina's 118-year football history.
By the end, South Carolina fans had witnessed a historic victory. But this was no fluke. This was one in which South Carolina soundly beat Alabama at its own game.
There isn't much else to say right now other than that this was the most epic performance we've ever seen from Carolina. Gameday in town, biggest stage, BEST PERFORMANCE EVER from the Gamecocks! This is exactly what we signed up for when we lured Spurrier here.
Alabama entered this game looking like the best team in the country for the second consecutive year. They entered the second half with their biggest halftime deficit under Nick Saban. And despite a moment of incredible stupidity from Garcia, who chucked a loose ball out of the back of the end zone for a safety on the first snap of the second half, swinging momentum squarely in the Crimson Tide's favor, they now exit the ranks of the unbeaten.
When Alabama finally lost, it was a complete team effort. The Crimson Tide had failures on offense, on special teams, and, particularly, on defense, and the result was Bama’s first loss since 2007.
A South Carolina program that has been desperately striving for acceptance in the toughest football conference in America announced its candidacy for a bona fide [SEC] title run.
It wasn't the end of the world, but there was a definite "Apocalypse Now" feel to South Carolina 35, Alabama 21. The immoveable object got pushed around. The irresistible force went weak in the knees. The football team that never loses got beat at its own game.
Whether the Gamecocks are there or if this was a one-game occurrence, they showed the wherewithal that players on the top teams do. USC counterpunched on Saturday when the attack from Alabama was at its most fierce level. You don't always win in those situations, but it you do so on a regular basis, it could lead to a pretty nice record.
If anybody deserved a game ball Saturday in the aftermath of one of the more glorious fall afternoons in South Carolina football history, it was the embattled [Stephen] Garcia. After all, the Gamecocks beat the No. 1-ranked team in the country about as often as Spurrier praises Garcia.
Behind a nearly flawless performance from quarterback Stephen Garcia, another monumental game from receiver Alshon Jeffery and a shocking defensive effort, USC handed defending champion Alabama its first loss in 19 games.
But Spurrier, in his sixth season as South Carolina’s coach, beat Alabama using the Tide’s own formula. Garcia and the Gamecocks cashed in when they got close to the goal line and shut down Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson
They said the game had passed him by. They said that without all of those great players, he was just another guy throwing a visor. They said that the new rock star coaches in the SEC -- Urban Meyer and Nick Saban -- were the future and he was very much the past. But on this day, Steve Spurrier -- all of 65 years young -- showed that he still had his fastball. He showed that he can still call plays with the best of them when he has the talent to make them work.
Finally, fate shined on the Gamecocks on Saturday, just like it used to shine on Spurrier's pass-happy teams at Florida, where he led his alma mater to six SEC titles and the 1996 national championship.
South Carolina's Gamecocks made some history Saturday and the dreaded Chicken Curse is - at least for now - broken.
Of all the places for Alabama to finally lose a game. As any South Carolina football fan knows, Williams-Brice Stadium has seen far more heartache than happiness over the years. Saturday was different. Remarkably so.