South Carolina Football: Top 5 Moments of 2013 Season

Charles Bennett@Charlie Bennett @Charlie73743721Contributor IJanuary 8, 2014

South Carolina Football: Top 5 Moments of 2013 Season

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    South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has put together three consecutive 11-2 seasons.
    South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has put together three consecutive 11-2 seasons.Scott Halleran/Getty Images

    A third consecutive 11-2 season in 2013 produced a long list of "firsts" and "bests" at South Carolina.

    Among the milestones:

    • The highest final ranking in school history (No. 4) in the Associated Press and ESPN polls.
    • The best three-year record in school history.
    • A third consecutive bowl victory for the first time in school history.
    • An extension of the school's record winning streak against rival Clemson to five consecutive games.

    Here's a look at five big moments, listed in chronological order. After all, over the course of a season, one big moment seems to lead to the next.

    This is how it played out for the Gamecocks.

South Carolina Survives at UCF

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    South Carolina traveled to Central Florida with a 2-1 record after beating North Carolina and Vanderbilt, sandwiched around a loss to Georgia, and although the Gamecocks knew the Knights were good, few probably realized just how good.

    The Gamecocks fell behind 10-0 but rallied in the second half for a 28-25 victory behind backup quarterback Dylan Thompson and the running of tailback Mike Davis, who rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns.

    It would be the only loss for the Knights, who capped their season with a victory over Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl.

Spurrier Clears the Air on Clowney

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    South Carolina All-American defensive end Jadeveon Clowney got off to a slow start for the Gamecocks, and when he took himself out of the lineup for the Gamecocks' Oct. 5 game with Kentucky, speculation was rampant that Clowney, a draft-eligible junior, was saving himself for the NFL.

    Coach Steve Spurrier even expressed frustration, but three days later, he cleared the air about where things stood between Clowney and the Gamecocks.

    Clowney, who had a rib injury, very much wanted to play, and South Carolina very much wanted him to do so.

    From that point forward, Clowney played his best football, and the issue died.

Connor Shaw's Miracle at Mizzou

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    The stakes couldn't have been much higher.

    Coming off of a 23-21 upset loss at Tennessee, South Carolina played at fifth-ranked and unbeaten Missouri with quarterback Connor Shaw presumably out for two to three weeks with a knee injury.

    With South Carolina trailing 17-0, Shaw came off the bench and rallied the Gamecocks in the second half for a 27-24 victory in two overtimes.

    In a career-defining performance, Shaw completed 20 of 29 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns.

    South Carolina clinched it on a field goal by Elliott Fry followed by a botched field goal by the Tigers that would have extended overtime, but it was Shaw's miraculous 15-yard touchdown pass to Bruce Ellington on 4th-and-goal that saved the Gamecocks from defeat and put them in position for the victory.

South Carolina Gets a Big High Five Against Clemson

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    One of the biggest and perhaps best byproducts of South Carolina's recent winning seasons has been the Gamecocks' unprecedented success against in-state rival Clemson.

    Clemson has dominated the overall series 65-42-4, but the Gamecocks' 31-17 victory over the Tigers on Nov. 30, 2013 extended South Carolina's winning streak to a record five consecutive games.

    South Carolina had not won consecutive game in the series since a three-game streak from 1968-1970.

Another Capital Effort

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    Yet another brilliant performance by South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw helped the Gamecocks beat Wisconsin in the Capital One Bowl.

    It was South Carolina's third consecutive bowl victory, a school record, and second in three years in the Capital One Bowl.

    Shaw was selected as the game's MVP.