ATHENS, GA.--I don't know what it is about Steve Spurrier and the Georgia Bulldogs, but whatever it is, he's still got it.
Unfortunately for South Carolina, he just didn't have as much of it Saturday night as the Gamecocks fell in a valiant effort, 17-15, here at Sanford Stadium.
While the world expected the ninth-ranked Bulldogs to embarrass Spurrier as payback for all those years of humiliation when he coached at Florida, it just didn't happen.
Indeed, it almost turned out to be a big embarrassment for Georgia.
Mark this down. Circle it in red ink. This might be the best game South Carolina will ever lose.
Predicted to be the victim of a rout, the Gamecocks showed what a crafty coach can do with a football team that doesn't know it's not supposed to win.
To that end, USC had more than 90,000 Georgia fans squirming in their seats as this one went down to the wire.
So how could an unranked club like South Carolina come in here and challenge one of the country's top 10 teams?
Let us count the ways.
The key to most college football games is turnovers. And most often, the difference between winning and losing is what you do with them when you get them.
South Carolina, for instance, had two big interceptions in the first half and both were important.
The first was a pick-off by Johnathan Joseph who scampered 42 yards for the Gamecocks' first touchdown.
The second came in the waning moments of the first half when Carlos Thomas, a wide receiver playing defensive back, picked off a D.J. Shockley pass in the end zone to stop a Georgia drive.
The Bulldogs, meanwhile, had two interceptions in the game and did absolutely nothing with them.
That's why this game was actually even closer than it looked on the scoreboard.
If Georgia were capable of converting turnovers into touchdowns, this contest could have been over early.
But South Carolina's opportunistic attitude turned what might have been a hum-drum game into a thriller.
Here are a few other observations from this game.
South Carolina quarterback Blake Mitchell is turning into a better quarterback than anybody expected. His 22-of-34 passing performance for 236 yards and a TD was impressive.
Although he was sacked four times, he often had plenty of time in the backfield to execute passes downfield and managed to sting the Bulldogs with some precision throws.
Which brings us to Georgia's problem areas.
Despite getting the victory, the Bulldogs deserve to drop in the national polls after this performance. They really stunk.
The UGA defense gave up too many big plays and the offense couldn't shift into second gear.
D.J. Shockley is a careless passer and not as fast as he thinks he is. His shocking 8-for-17 night with two interceptions should put an end to all that ridiculous Heisman hype.
And the play-calling for Georgia was downright scary.
Whenever the Bulldogs were moving the ball downfield with what looked like a promising running game, they would suddenly go to the pass and stall the drive.
Only in the fourth quarter, when UGA really needed a good drive to pull safely ahead, did the Bulldogs have a nice eight-play scoring drive that covered 71 yards in four minutes without a single third down or a single pass.
So, if you're a Gamecock fan, you should take a lot of positives out of this defeat.
Sanford Stadium is not an easy place for any team to play. Especially a team with a sophomore quarterback and a two-deep roster loaded with freshmen.
This tells us that Spurrier's teams have no fear. They play loose. They don't quit. They play to win.
That they didn't win this game is now a fact in the history books. But history has footnotes.
And what those footnotes will say about this game is that Georgia was lucky to get out of here with a victory and South Carolina's future with Steve Spurrier looks bright.
All of which should make the final score extremely frustrating for both teams.
Ken Burger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-5598.