COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Eighth-ranked South Carolina beat Alabama-Birmingham 49-6 Saturday night at Williams-Brice Stadium, giving Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier his 200th victory as a college head coach.
The game was Spurrier's 365th as a head coach and 277th as a college head coach. Spurrier became the 22nd coach in Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) history to win 200 games and the 71st in all of college football history.
South Carolina (3-0) hosts Missouri at 3:30 p.m. next Saturday as the Gamecocks begin the meat of their Southeastern Conference schedule. They are 1-0 in the SEC, having defeated Vanderbilt in the season opener. UAB (0-2) travels to Ohio State next week.
The Gamecocks again have to be concerned about the status of quarterback Connor Shaw. He aggravated a right (throwing) shoulder injury with 1:44 left in the first half when he was hit as he completed a 20-yard pass. Shaw writhed on the grass and was helped off.
Dylan Thompson played in Shaw's place until third-stringer Seth Strickland entered with 11:03 left in the fourth quarter. It was uncertain before the game if Shaw or Thompson would start. Shaw was announced as the starter on the pregame video presentation, drawing a big cheer from the crowd.
Shaw said he suffered a cracked shoulder blade in the Aug. 30 season opener at Vanderbilt. He returned to that game but hadn't played since. Thompson played in his place in last week's win over East Carolina --Thompson's first career start.
Spurrier said Shaw suffered "no extra fracture" Saturday.
"The pain was pretty up there (after the hit)," Shaw said. "It's a little tight right now. I got better in five days, more than I expected, last week (before the UAB game), so hopefully I'll be back next week. I felt good coming into today. The more and more I threw (against UAB), the more and more it hurt a little bit. But I absolutely thought I could play coming into this game."
Said Spurrier: "I thought he deserved and earned the chance to start. He struggled a bit early there. He seemed a little tentative on some throws, a little hesitant. But maybe they had everybody covered. I don't know. It'll be interesting to watch the tape of this game. He didn't practice much last week. Maybe that was a reason he might have been a little tentative.
"If we need to use two quarterbacks at times, Dylan can make some throws. He's proven that the last two weeks. But Connor's played too well for us to think we've got any issues here now (with a quarterback controversy). Hopefully he can get that shoulder well, but if he gets hit and goes down like that, it's not right to put him out there."
The Gamecocks pulled away in the first half and led 21-6 at halftime.
They went up 7-3 when free safety D.J. Swearinger returned a fumble 65 yards for a touchdown. The ball simply slipped out of UAB quarterback Jonathan Perry's hands as he dropped back to pass and tried to elude a blitz. It landed right in Swearinger's grasp.
On the Gamecocks' next drive, they marched 64 yards in nine plays and 3:34 for a 16-yard touchdown pass to Ace Sanders. On their final possession of the half, they needed to go just 37 yards for a touchdown after a 19-yard punt by UAB. Marcus Lattimore's two-yard touchdown run -- on the play after Shaw got hurt -- put USC up 21-6.
"I think that our team really hung in there and played with a great attitude for a long time," said UAB coach Garrick McGee. "They really hung in there and competed with one of the top teams in the country for a long time in the game. I think we are developing, and I think we are getting in position to go after the Conference USA championship."
Said safety Jake Ganus: "I learned that this team can play and battle with anybody."
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said before the game that he considers his true 200th win to be his 200th overall victory, counting his time in the United States Football League and NFL, and that came in 2006 over Kentucky. Spurrier debuted as a head coach in 1983 with the USFL's Tampa Bay Bandits. His overall head coaching record is now 247-116-2. He is 200-75-2 in college games.
Notes: Saturday was the Gamecocks' second straight game against a Conference USA opponent. They beat East Carolina 48-10 last week ... South Carolina won its seventh straight game, two shy of tying the school record set in 1984 ... UAB is now 0-2 all-time against South Carolina, having also lost in 2003 and 2008 in Columbia.