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Week 9 Rewind

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After Steve Spurrier revealed that Connor Shaw was ‘doubtful’ to play at Missouri and that Dylan Thompson would get the starting nod for South Carolina, I tweeted last Monday, “Something tells me Connor Shaw will find a way to get on the field at Mizzou.”

Late in the third quarter with his team trailing 17-0 and its chances to win the SEC East in his senior season growing bleaker by the minute, Spurrier turned to Shaw and asked him to come to the rescue, to turn an impossible situation into a victory and to give the 2013 Gamecocks something to play for in November.

And Shaw, one of the most underrated football players in SEC history, did all of that, delivering South Carolina one of its greatest comeback wins in school history. In doing so, Shaw has put his squad into great position to return to Atlanta for just the second time.

South Carolina needs to beat Mississippi State and Florida at home, and then hope that Missouri goes down once in its four remaining SEC contests (vs. Tennessee, at Kentucky, at Ole Miss and vs. Texas A&M). Georgia and Florida, with two SEC losses apiece, are also in the mix but neither has the head-to-head tiebreaker advantage over Mizzou like South Carolina does.

Playing on one leg after injuring his knee at Tennessee the week before, in addition to suffering from flu-like symptoms that prevented him from watching the team movie Friday night and attending the walk-through Saturday morning, Shaw completed 20-of-29 passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns without an interception.

The improbable rally began when Shaw found Bruce Ellington for a six-yard scoring strike with 12:13 remaining. After another sustained drive, South Carolina settled for a 20-yard field goal to make it a one-possession game with 5:03 left.

With just 42 ticks remaining, Shaw found Nick Jones for a two-yard TD pass to pull even at 17-17. Missouri needed just four plays to go up 24-17 in the first overtime. Next, the Tigers forced the Gamecocks into a fourth-and-goal situation from the 15.

With the game and season on the line, Shaw found Ellington again for a 15-yard TD pass to knot the score at 24-24 and force a second extra session. South Carolina had the ball first in double overtime and got a 40-yard field goal from Elliot Fry.

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Missouri had to settle for a 24-yard FG to force a third OT, but Andrew Baggett’s 24-yard attempt hit the left post and was no good. South Carolina won a 27-24 decision as a three-point road underdog, hooking up money-line supporters with a +130 payout. The 51 combined points stayed ‘under’ the 54-point total, although those winners had to deal with plenty of stress when the ‘over’ suddenly had life when the game went to overtime(s).

Shaw had demonstrated his toughness many times before during his career at South Carolina, but this was certainly his defining moment. He now has 14 TD passes compared to only one interception this year, in addition to three rushing TDs.

Back in September, I felt like Alabama could be had. The Crimson Tide didn’t appear nearly as dominant as it had the two previous years. But there’s no doubt that ‘Bama has vastly improved in the last month.

In the last five games, Nick Saban’s team has outscored its opponents by a combined score of 216-20. The Tide raced out to a 28-0 lead over Tennessee this past Saturday before the Vols were threatening to score just before intermission. UT quarterback Justin Worley tried to find his receiver out an out pattern, but sophomore safety Landon Collins intercepted the pass and took it back 88 yards for the score.

After leading 35-0 at halftime, Alabama cruised through the second half en route to a 45-10 win as a 28 ½-point home favorite. The 55 combined points jumped ‘over’ the 50-point total.

‘Bama has an open date before hosting LSU. LVH has installed the nation’s top-ranked team as a 12-point favorite.

Oregon found itself in a close game for the first time this year when it went to halftime tied at 14-14 with UCLA. But the Ducks scored all 28 points in the second half to capture a 42-14 win as a 23 ½-point home favorite. The 56 combined points fell ‘under’ the 75-point tally.

Marcus Mariota threw for 230 yards and one TD without an interception, improving his touchdown-to-interception ratio to 20/0. Byron Marshall rushed for a team-high 130 yards and three TDs. In his return after a four-game absence due to an ankle injury, De’Anthony Thomas produced 48 yards on 13 touches (10 rushing, three receptions) but did have a one-yard TD scamper in the first quarter.

The Ducks have an open date before venturing to Palo Alto next Thursday for a revenge game at Stanford. LVH has Oregon listed as a 10-point road ‘chalk’ vs. the Cardinal.

Florida State improved to 7-0 straight up but allowed a 42-0 halftime lead to get away in a 49-17 win over North Carolina State. The Wolfpack took the cash in backdoor fashion as a 34-point road underdog. The ‘over’ improved to 7-0 in FSU games.

Jameis Winston threw for 292 yards and three TDs. The ‘Noles will take on Miami this weekend at Doak Campbell Stadium.

Ohio State put together its best performance of the season in Saturday’s 63-14 win over Penn State as a 16 ½-point home ‘chalk.’ Braxton Miller threw three TD passes and ran for two more scores in the blowout victory.

The oddsmakers simply can’t make numbers high enough for Baylor. The Bears went into Lawrence and stroked Kansas by a 59-14 count as 34 ½-point road favorites. Bryce Petty threw for 430 yards and three TDs without an interception and also ran for a score. Petty has an 18/1 TD-INT ratio while leading his team to a 7-0 SU start and a 6-1 ATS mark.

LVH has Baylor installed as a 12-point favorite for next Thursday’s home game vs. Oklahoma.

Speaking of the Sooners, they knocked Texas Tech from the unbeaten ranks by collecting a 38-30 victory as seven-point home favorites. Blake Bell threw for 249 yards and a pair of TDs without an interception.

Miami was extremely fortunate to stay undefeated in a 24-21 come-from-behind win over Wake Forest as an enormous 26-point home favorite. Duke Johnson’s one-yard TD plunge with 53 ticks remaining provided the winning points.

The Hurricanes played from behind nearly the entire game, taking their first lead with less than six minutes left. Wake Forest senior QB Tanner Price, the school’s second all-time leading passer behind only Riley Skinner, threw for 302 yards and a pair of TDs in the losing effort. WR Michael Campanaro, who is en route to earning first-team All-ACC honors, had 10 catches for 88 yards and one TD. The Demon Deacons have covered the number in three consecutive games and the ‘under’ has cashed at a 7-1 clip for them this season.

Stanford survived a game effort from Oregon State and escaped Corvallis with a 20-12 win as a four-point road favorite. Tyler Gaffney ran for 145 yards and three TDs and the Cardinal defense stopped the Beavers on downs inside the 10 in the final minute.

Duke pulled one of the biggest Week 9 upsets when it went into Blacksburg and ended Virginia Tech’s six-game winning streak by pulling out a 13-10 triumph as a 12-point underdog. The Blue Devils’ defense intercepted Logan Thomas four times and place-kicker Ross Martin buried first-half field goals from 51 and 53 yards out.

David Cutcliffe has Duke bowl eligible for a second straight season after the school missed the postseason every year from 1994-2012. The 6-2 Blue Devils will take a four-game winning streak into back-to-back home games vs. N.C. State and Miami following this week’s open date.

Texas A&M bounced back from a crushing home loss to Auburn and smashed Vanderbilt, 56-24. The Aggies covered the spread as 17-point home favorites. Although his shoulder was clearly bothering him, Johnny Manziel threw for 305 yards and four TDs.

To round out the SEC results, Ole Miss and Auburn covered in non-conference home games, while Mississippi State let down its betting supporters in a 28-22 win over Kentucky as a 12-point favorite Thursday night in Starkville.

Troy had seen the ‘over’ cash at a 7-0 clip before Saturday’s 32-26 win at Western Kentucky as a 10 ½-point road underdog. The 58 combined points dipped ‘under’ the 63 combined points. The Trojans improved to 5-3 SU and 3-1 in Sun Belt play.

  
HEADLINES
Nelson: Texas A&M at South Carolina
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ASA: Big Ten Report - Week 1
Williams: Pac-12 Report - Week 1
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News: Final Four Consensus Picks
Edwards: 2014 Big Ten Predictions
ASA: Win Totals to Watch
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