Dec 30, 2022; Jacksonville, FL, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Spencer Rattler (7) throws the ball during the first half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the 2022 Gator Bowl at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler to return in 2023

South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler announced Tuesday that he will return to the Gamecocks in 2023.

Rattler threw for 3,012 yards and 18 touchdowns against 12 interceptions this past season, rekindling the promise that he showed in one prior outstanding season at Oklahoma.

Rattler made his announcement in a video he posted to Twitter.

Rattler especially came alive in South Carolina’s final three games, throwing for 1,044 yards and 10 TDs against Tennessee, Clemson and Notre Dame. The Gamecocks won two of their last three to finish 8-5. They lost to Notre Dame 45-38 in the Gator Bowl.

Rattler threw for 3,031 yards and 28 TDs against seven INTs in 2020 for the Sooners but then fell off in 2021, eventually losing his starting job while throwing for 1,483 yards, 11 TDs and five INTs.

He transferred to South Carolina after the 2021 season.

–Field Level Media

Dec 30, 2022; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Tyler Buchner (12) throws the ball under pressure from South Carolina Gamecocks defensive lineman Tonka Hemingway (91) and defensive lineman T.J. Sanders (90) during the first half in the 2022 Gator Bowl at TIAA Bank Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Pendleton-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Buchner rallies Notre Dame to thrilling Gator Bowl win

Tyler Buchner passed for three touchdowns and ran for two more while connecting with Mitchell Evans for a go-ahead, 16-yard TD pass with 1:38 left to boost Notre Dame to a 45-38 victory against South Carolina on Friday at the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.

No. 21 Notre Dame outgained No. 19 South Carolina 558-352, establishing a program bowl record for yardage in the highest-scoring Gator Bowl in history. The Fighting Irish (9-4) erased a two-touchdown deficit to close the season with six wins in their final seven games.

South Carolina (8-5) was forced to punt on five of its first six second-half possessions, but those struggles were rendered moot when the Gamecocks’ O’Donnell Fortune returned a Buchner interception 100 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 38 with 7:42 to play.

Making his first start since sustaining a shoulder injury in the second game of the season, Buchner led the Fighting Irish on a 12-play, 80-yard drive in 6:01 as Notre Dame took the lead for good. Buchner was 18-for-33 passing for 274 yards and three interceptions while gaining 61 yards on 12 carries.

South Carolina counterpart Spencer Rattler led the Gamecocks into Notre Dame territory in the final minute, but penalties pushed the team back. Rattler was 29-for-44 for 246 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Rattler also rushed seven times for 27 yards.

Xavier Legette had seven catches for 78 yards and two scores, while Nate Adkins had five catches for 78 yards.

Notre Dame’s Braden Lenzy had four catches for 89 yards and a touchdown.

Audric Estime rushed 14 times for 95 yards to lead Notre Dame, while Logan Diggs ran for 89 yards and a score on 13 carries.

South Carolina visited the end zone on the game’s opening possession, covering 75 yards in 10 plays and 3:12 of clock time. Rattler punctuated the drive with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Legette.

Notre Dame answered with 5:54 remaining in the quarter as Buchner ran 15 yards for a score.

The Gamecocks followed with another 10-play, 75-yard drive, but this time benefited from some special-teams trickery. With South Carolina seemingly lined up for a field-goal attempt, holder/punter Kai Kroeger came up from his crouch and passed to long snapper Hunter Rogers for a 23-yard touchdown.

Less than two minutes later, DQ Smith intercepted Buchner and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown for a 21-7 South Carolina lead.

Notre Dame trailed 24-17 at the half, and eventually outscored South Carolina in each of the game’s final three quarters.

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2022; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney, left, and South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer talk before the game at Memorial Stadium in Clemson, S.C. Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022.    Mandatory Credit: Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina halts No. 8 Clemson’s home win streak at 40

Spencer Rattler threw two touchdown passes to Antwane Wells Jr. and South Carolina’s defense had a tremendous second half as the Gamecocks knocked off No. 8 Clemson 31-30 on Saturday afternoon at Clemson, S.C.

A 40-game home-field winning streak came to a halt for the Tigers (10-2, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who also no longer have a shot to make the College Football Playoff field.

Rattler was 25-for-39 for 360 yards with two interceptions, while Wells finished with 131 receiving yards on nine catches. The Gamecocks managed only 54 rushing yards.

D.J. Uiagalelei ran for a touchdown and threw for one, Will Shipley ran for a touchdown and Jeremiah Trotter Jr. returned an interception for a touchdown for Clemson’s big moments.

South Carolina (8-4, 3-2), which conquered another Top 10 team after its 63-38 shocker of Tennessee a week earlier, snapped a seven-game losing streak in the series with Clemson.

The Tigers face North Carolina next Saturday night in the ACC championship game in Charlotte, N.C.

South Carolina took its first lead on Mitch Jeter’s 35-yard field goal with 10:54 remaining, completing a 10-play possession that lasted nearly 6 1/2 minutes. Clemson punted on its next three possessions.

Then the Gamecocks were forced to punt with about two minutes left after Clemson used a pair of timeouts. The Tigers fumbled on the punt return and never got the ball back.

Uiagalelei was 8-for-29 for 99 passing yards with an interception. Shipley gained 132 yards on 15 rushing attempts.

The Gamecocks stayed within range throughout the game. They scored first in the second half Jaheim’s 2-yard run to close within 23-21. Shipley’s 11-yard run later in the third quarter was matched on Rattler’s 72-yard pass play to Wells just 50 seconds later.

Clemson led 14-0 and 16-7. By then, nine of the points resulted from defense. Trotter returned a Rattler interception 35 yards for the game’s first points. In the second quarter, a safety increased the margin.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks tight end Jaheim Bell (0) drops a pass against Tennessee Volunteers defensive back Brandon Turnage (8) in the second quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Spencer Rattler throws for 6 TDs, South Carolina trounces No. 5 Tennessee

Spencer Rattler established career bests of 438 yards and six touchdowns as South Carolina delivered a likely fatal blow to Tennessee’s College Football Playoff hopes with a 63-38 thumping of the No. 5 Volunteers on Saturday night in Southeastern Conference play at Columbia, S.C.

Rattler also set a Gamecocks single-game record for touchdown passes while completing 30 of 37 throws.

Antwane Wells Jr. caught 11 passes for 177 yards and also rushed for a touchdown for South Carolina (7-4, 4-4 SEC). Dakereon Joyner rushed for two touchdowns, Jaheim Bell and Josh Vann each caught two touchdown passes and Jalen Brooks and Juju McDowell also had scoring catches for the Gamecocks.

Heisman Trophy candidate Hendon Hooker was 25-of-42 passing for 247 yards and three touchdowns before leaving with a left knee injury for Tennessee (9-2, 5-2). The Volunteers were outside the CFP top four teams prior to the beating and figure to spiral down the next rankings on Tuesday.

Cedric Tillman caught two touchdowns for Tennessee, including one from backup Joe Milton III. Bru McCoy and Princeton Fant also caught scoring passes and Jabari Small rushed for a touchdown.

South Carolina’s point total was its highest against an SEC opponent since a 65-39 victory over Mississippi State in 1995. The Gamecocks outgained the Volunteers 606 to 507.

Tennessee trailed by 18 late in the first half but moved within 35-31 on Hooker’s 41-yard touchdown pass to Fant with 9:53 left in the third quarter before the Gamecocks answered with four consecutive touchdowns.

Wells scored on a 3-yard run with 5:03 remaining in the period and Rattler threw a 2-yard scoring pass to Bell to make it 49-31 with 11:41 remaining in the contest.

Hooker lost a fumble on the play in which he was injured, and Jordan Burch recovered at the Tennessee 17-yard line with 11:28 left. Just over two minutes later, Joyner scored from the 3 to make it 56-31 with 9:26 to play.

Rattler punctuated the win with a 20-yard scoring pass to Brooks with 2:06 remaining.

Rattler passed for 264 yards and four touchdowns as South Carolina led 35-24 at the break.

Rattler threw touchdown passes of 19 yards to Bell, 60 yards to Vann and 11 to McDowell in a first quarter that ended with the Gamecocks leading 21-7. Small scored on a 31-yard run for the Volunteers.

Vann’s second scoring reception — from 18 yards out — gave South Carolina a 35-17 lead with 2:04 left in the half. Hooker’s deflected pass was caught by McCoy for a 7-yard score with 12 seconds left as Tennessee moved within 11.

–Field Level Media

Nov 12, 2022; Gainesville, Florida, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks wide receiver Jalen Brooks (13) causes Florida Gators wide receiver Xzavier Henderson (3) to fumble the ball on special teams during the first quarter at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida routs South Carolina 38-6, becomes bowl eligible

Anthony Richardson threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as host Florida became bowl-eligible in coach Billy Napier’s first season with a 38-6 victory over South Carolina on Saturday in Gainesville, Fla.

Richardson went 11-for-23 passing for 112 yards and rushed for 96 yards for the Gators (6-4, 3-4 SEC), who dominated the Gamecocks (6-4, 3-4) from the opening kickoff.

Montrell Johnson Jr. ran for 161 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, while Trevor Etienne rushed for 100 yards, including an 85-yard touchdown run, on eight carries. Caleb Douglas had three receptions for 53 yards for the Gators, who scored touchdowns on their first three possessions and kicked a field goal on their fourth drive.

Spencer Rattler went for 18-for-26 passing for 145 yards, while Jaheim Bell ran for 30 yards on 12 carries. Dakereon Joiner had two catches for 73 yards, including a catch for a 48-yard score off a fake punt.

Florida outgained the Gamecocks 515-205, holding them to just 11 first downs and 3 for 11 on third-down conversions. The Gators rushed for 374 yards and three touchdowns.

Leading 24-6 at halftime, the Gators put the game away on Richardson’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Odom for a 31-6 lead with 9:43 left in the third quarter.

Johnson’s 8-yard touchdown run extended the lead to 38-6 with 6:02 left in the game.

The Gators took a 7-0 lead on their opening possession when Richardson’s 3-yard run capped a 14-play, 75-yard drive with 9:17 left in the first quarter.

After a South Carolina punt, Richardson capped a seven-play, 64-yard drive with a 15-yard strike to Pearsall for a 14-0 lead with 4:31 left in the first quarter.

The Gators pushed the lead 21-0 when Etienne ran down the sideline 85 yards into the end zone with 1:59 left in the first quarter.

Florida outgained South Carolina 219-37 in the first 15 minutes.

Adam Mihalek’s 28-yard field goal made it 24-0 with 6:24 left in the half.

South Carolina pulled to 24-6 when punter Kai Kroeger threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Joyner on a fake punt with 1:52 remaining in the first half, though the two-point conversion failed.

–Field Level Media

Nov 5, 2022; College Station, Texas, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) looks up in the second half against the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Dunn-USA TODAY Sports

Anthony Richardson, Florida set to test South Carolina

Attaining bowl eligibility under first-year coach Billy Napier is Florida’s focus on Saturday when the Gators host South Carolina in Gainesville, Fla.

Florida (5-4, 2-4 SEC) is coming off one its best offensive performances of the season to end a two-game slide with a 41-24 win at Texas A&M on Saturday.

South Carolina (6-3, 3-3) pulled away from host Vanderbilt for a 38-27 win on the same day.

Anthony Richardson threw for two touchdowns and rushed for 78 yards and two more scores for the Gators, while Montrell Johnson Jr. added 100 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. The Gators rolled up 492 yards of total offense, including 291 on the ground while rushing for an average of 5.8 yards per carry.

South Carolina looked improved on offense Saturday.

Spencer Rattler went 18-for-26 passing for 200 yards and three touchdowns, with Antwane Wells Jr. finishing with four catches for 110 yards, including touchdowns catches of 68 and 17 yards.

Richardson has completed 55.7 percent of his passes for 1,839 yards with nine touchdowns and seven interceptions this season. He also has rushed for 492 yards and eight touchdowns on 74 carries.

Johnson has rushed for a team-high 549 yards to go along with eight touchdowns, while Justin Shorter (21 catches, 471 yards), Ricky Pearsall (22 catches, 406 yards) and Xzavier Henderson (36 catches, 395 yards) each have two receiving touchdowns.

Rattler has completed 64.5 percent of his passes for 1.837 yards with eight touchdowns and nine interceptions, with Wells posting 41 receptions for 574 yards and four scores.

“(South Carolina) is a team that is very capable,” Napier said. “They’ve got some really unique matchup players, individual players that I think can present a number of challenges.”

The Gamecocks could also be bolstered with the return of leading rusher MarShawn Lloyd (556 yards, nine TDs), who was sidelined against Vanderbilt with a bruised thigh.

“We’re optimistic that he’ll be able to go this weekend,” South Carolina coach Shane Beamer said.

South Carolina posted a 40-17 win over the Gators last year in Columbia, S.C.

–Field Level Media

Oct 29, 2022; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks quarterback Spencer Rattler (7) reacts after being sacked by the Missouri Tigers in the second half at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Struggling offenses collide as Vanderbilt faces South Carolina

South Carolina and Vanderbilt are both coming off losses to Missouri, with each defeat exposing shortcomings with their offenses heading into their matchup on Saturday in Nashville.

South Carolina (5-3, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) lost 23-10 to Missouri at home last week, a week after Vanderbilt (3-5, 0-4) fell 17-14 on the road against the Tigers.

The Commodores, coming off a bye week, will host the Gamecocks after producing only 299 yards of total offense (57 rushing) vs. Missouri.

South Carolina’s offense averaged 3.8 yards per play against Missouri, including 5.7 yards per pass attempt and a sack-adjusted 3.2 yards per carry.

Gamecocks quarterback Spencer Rattler was sacked four times for 28 yards. He said after the game South Carolina’s offense did not have a “good enough” idea of what to do offensively.

South Carolina coach Shane Beamer responded by saying, “I met with Spencer and we talked about that comment. I understood where he was coming from. We didn’t go into that game uncertain about things. I’m aware Spencer said it, but he and I met on it and don’t think it’s an issue.”

Vanderbilt’s AJ Swann, the only true freshman quarterback starting for a Power 5 program, is questionable to play after sustaining an undisclosed injury against Missouri.

Swann exited that game early and did not return. He rejoined the Commodores at practice on Tuesday after not practicing during the bye week.

“My expectation is he’ll be playing against South Carolina,” Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea said. “Obviously we have to give him a chance to heal and demonstrate that he is ready, but I feel like there’s time to do that. I feel like he’s on course to do that.”

Swann has completed 57.7 percent of his passes for 1,068 yards with eight touchdowns and one interception for an offense that ranks last in the SEC at 341 yards per game.

Rattler, a former Oklahoma standout, has a career-high nine interceptions with five touchdowns while completing 64 percent of his attempts for 1,637 yards.

The Gamecocks have won their past 13 matchups against the Commodores.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Stetson Bennett (13) rolls out against the South Carolina Gamecocks in the first quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

Stetson Bennett and No. 1 Georgia smother South Carolina

Stetson Bennett passed for two touchdowns and also rushed for one as top-ranked Georgia rolled to an easy 48-7 victory over South Carolina on Saturday in Southeastern Conference play at Columbia, S.C.

Brock Bowers caught five passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns and added one score on the ground as the defending national champions were dominant for the third straight game. Georgia (3-0, 1-0 SEC) has outscored Oregon, Samford and South Carolina by a cumulative 130-10.

Bennett completed 16 of 23 passes for 284 yards before leaving with Georgia ahead by 38 midway through the third quarter. Malaki Starks, Dan Jackson and Trezman Marshall had interceptions as the Bulldogs beat the Gamecocks for the seventh time in the past eight meetings.

Spencer Rattler was 13-of-25 passing for 118 yards and two interceptions for South Carolina (1-2, 0-2), which lost its second straight game. Backup Luke Doty tossed a 13-yard touchdown to Traevon Kenion with 53 seconds left to mark the first touchdown scored against the Bulldogs this season.

Georgia outgained the Gamecocks 547-306 and had a 30-17 edge in first downs.

Bowers scored Georgia’s first touchdown on a 5-yard reverse with 8:20 left in the opening quarter.

The Bulldogs increased their lead to 14-0 on a 1-yard run by Kendall Milton with 4:42 remaining in the period.

Bennett hit Bowers on a 6-yard scoring pass to make it a 21-point margin with 11:25 left in the first half. Jack Podlesny tacked on a 42-yard field goal with 30 seconds left as the Bulldogs held a 24-0 halftime lead.

On the third play of the second half, a wide-open Bowers caught a pass from Bennett, broke a tackle at midfield and raced to a 78-yard touchdown.

On the next possession, Bennett drove the Bulldogs 88 yards on eight plays and scored on an 11-yard run with 7:13 left to increase the lead to 38 points.

After Jackson’s interception, Carson Beck replaced Bennett with 6:59 left in the third quarter and it took him just 59 seconds to add another score. Beck hit Oscar Delp on a 28-yard aerial to make it 45-0.

Backup kicker Jared Zirkel added a 21-yard field goal with 8:57 left in the game.

South Carolina later reached the Bulldogs’ 9-yard line but Doty was intercepted by Marshall with 4:33 left. But Doty got one more chance and he hit Kenion for the score to avoid being blanked.

–Field Level Media