South Carolina lost to LSU on Saturday night 23-21. The Gamecocks led several times but were outscored in the fourth quarter to lose.
The defense really didn't play badly, but LSU put up 406 yards. The vaunted Gamecock defensive line yielded to a juggernaut of a rushing attack. The Tigers pretty much ran the ball between the tackles all night. That success led to a huge advantage in time of possession. In turn, that meant that in the 4th quarter the USC defense had been on the field most of the game and wasn't able to keep the Tigers out of the endzone.
A big reason the Gamecocks defense stayed on the field all night was the offense's inability to keep the ball very long. In the first half USC tried to establish the run, but they had very little success. In the second half they found more success throwing the ball. An offensive line that wasn't able to open holes for Marcus Lattimore was able to protect Connor Shaw.
On paper South Carolina didn't keep this game as close as the score. LSU gained many more yards and controlled the pace of the game. South Carolina did make some timely plays to stay in the game and nearly pull off the upset. Jimmy Legree's interception changed the game early. Later Connor Shaw and the offense put together a drive to get the second touchdown. Late in the game they were able to get a third TD, but that was too little too late.
Many years the first loss of the season is the toughest. It's the time when reality sets in and you know for sure that this isn't the year your team is going undefeated. This year it doesn't feel that way. Despite the high hopes and expectations, I can't bring myself to be too upset with a two point loss at night in Death Valley. Maybe it's because every team goal is still on the table. Maybe it's because I'm getting older. It could be either, but the real reason I'm not too upset about this loss is that LSU is better. They are a better football team than we are night now. Could we have beaten them? Yes. If we see them in Atlanta, could we beat them there? Yes, of course. Is it guaranteed? No, but we're right there with them which means we're one of the best teams in the country. Maybe knowing that is why this first loss doesn't seem so bad.
Get more great South Carolina sports analysis over at Leftover Hot Dog.