SEC Notebook: Shaw comes to rescue for Gamecocks

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

He may not have the biggest numbers in the conference -- though they aren't all that bad -- but South Carolina's Connor Shaw deserves consideration for all-SEC honors at quarterback for his heart alone.
Not expected to play because of the knee injury he sustained in the loss to Tennessee the week before, Shaw relieved junior Dylan Thompson in the second half and rallied the Gamecocks to a 27-24 overtime victory over Missouri Saturday night.
Entering the game with his team down 17-0 in the third quarter, Shaw completed 20 of his 29 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns, including a big 15-yarder for a touchdown on fourth-and-goal in overtime.
"I went over and asked him if he could play and he said sure," coach Steve Spurrier said. "I said we had to make the move now.
"Dylan was just a little off here and there. I thought he had a few guys open and he zinged them out, but he threw some good balls.
"It just wasn't his night and Connor gave us a little sharpness in there."
Shaw now has 14 touchdown passes against one interception for the season and has completed 64.4 percent of his attempts. He was injured late in the loss to Tennessee and also missed time earlier this season.
Getting past the first hit he got from Missouri's defense was the key, Shaw said.
"I was grateful," he said. "I wasn't even supposed to be playing in this game. They said I was supposed to be out two-three weeks. I am thankful to be able to play in this game."
With the win, the Gamecocks loosened the Tigers' grip on the SEC Eastern Division race.
Though still in first place in the division with a 3-1 league mark, the Tigers saw their margin for error cut considerably.
The Gamecocks remained in contention with 4-2 SEC mark. They have Mississippi State and Florida yet to play in the conference and get both at home.
The Gamecocks now hold the tiebreaker over the Tigers if those two teams end up tied for the Eastern Division title.

1. Life can be hard on quarterbacks in the SEC. With Tennessee's Justin Worley leaving the Alabama game after hurting his thumb, the list of teams that have had starting quarterbacks either miss time with injuries or get knocked out for the season includes Arkansas (Brandon Allen), Auburn (Nick Marshall), Florida (Jeff Driskel), Kentucky (both Jalen Whitlow and Maxwell Smith), Mississippi State (Tyler Russell), Missouri (James Franklin), South Carolina (Connor Shaw), Texas A&M (Johnny Manziel), and Vanderbilt (Austyn Carta-Samuels).
2. The SEC once again will fill up the holiday season. With South Carolina and Texas A&M each picking up a sixth win, the conference has six bowl eligible teams already (Alabama, Auburn, LSU, and Missouri) with a seventh (Ole Miss) needing just one more win and five others (Florida, Georgia, Mississippi State, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt) needing just two more apiece for eligibility.
3. LSU continues to feast on non-SEC opponents. The Tigers' 48-16 win over Furman extended their FBS record for regular-season wins over non-conference opponents to 45 in a row.
4. Auburn is climbing in the national polls. The Tigers moved into the Top 10 of the AP poll for the first time since their 2010 national championship season with a No. 8 ranking following their 45-10 win over Florida Atlantic, giving the SEC three teams in the Top 10 (Alabama No 1 and Missouri No. 10) and seven in the Top 14 (LSU No. 11, Texas A&M No. 12, and South Carolina No. 14).
5. Bama's defense rolls on. Since the start of the 2009 season, the Crimson Tide has surrendered just 78 touchdowns in 62 games compared to the FBS average of 191 over that span, and it has shut out its opponent in the first half nine times in its last 12 games.

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