Seminoles have to clean up mistakes from 1st loss
This story is from BostonGlobe.com, the only place for complete digital access to the Globe.
Steve Spurrier likes what undefeated South Carolina has accomplished so far. He knows, though, the third-ranked Gamecocks have plenty of games left that will determine how special the season turns out.
South Carolina (6-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) jumped up three spots Sunday to its highest position since 1984 after a dominating 35-7 victory over No. 14 Georgia on Saturday night. The Gamecocks reached a number of milestones, winning their school-record 10th straight game and taking three straight from the Bulldogs for the first time with the sort of performance that fuels national title talk.
‘‘We realized if we won the game last night, this could happen,’’ Spurrier said.
South Carolina wasn’t the only team to climb up in the poll. Nine teams in the Top 25 lost, including No. 3 Florida State, No. 4 LSU, and the No. 5 Bulldogs. Florida, which knocked off LSU, and West Virginia, which won another shootout, this time over Texas, moved into the top five. No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Oregon held their spots at the top.
Spurrier handled sky-high expectations much of his 12 seasons at Florida from 1990-2001, bringing his alma mater a national title in 1996. Spurrier says this group of Gamecocks is his most complete and mature group since he took over in 2005. All that doesn’t guarantee anything, Spurrier said.
‘‘We certainly like where we are right now, but we’re smart enough to know it’s still a difficult, difficult road for us,’’ Spurrier said.
The last time Spurrier’s Gamecocks enjoyed this large a spotlight came in 2010 following a stunning 35-21 win over then top-ranked Alabama. South Caroilna then lost a week later, 31-28, at Kentucky, a defeat Spurrier blames more on a stalled second-half offense than players not being ready. ‘‘I blame the coaches for that one,’’ he said.
This time, the Gamecocks feature better, older leaders — including tailback Marcus Lattimore and defensive end Jadeveon Clowney — who’ve kept the team even-keeled through the high times and the low. ‘‘You really don’t ever know anything until you go play the game,’’ Spurrier said. ‘‘But we’ve got some good leaders.’’
Leaders, Spurrier thinks, who’ll keep locked on to the next opponent while understanding that success won’t guarantee anything beyond that. ‘‘We do have a chance for a big year,’’ Spurrier said. ‘‘If we continue on doing what we’re doing.’’
La. Tech steps up
No. 21 Cincinnati (4-0) and No. 22 Texas A&M are ranked for the first time this season, and No. 24 Boise State and No. 25 Michigan are back after falling out earlier.
In between is No. 23 Louisiana Tech, which hasn’t been ranked in the Top 25 since 1999.
‘‘It shows we have some credibility in our program,’’ Louisiana Tech coach Sonny Dykes said.
The Bulldogs (5-0) are third in the nation in scoring at 53 points per game and are a serious threat to bust into the BCS from the Western Athletic Conference. The Bulldogs have won three road games, including games at Virginia and Illinois.
The biggest hurdle comes Saturday against Texas A&M in Shreveport, La. The game was originally scheduled the opening week of the season, but it was postponed because of severe weather.
‘‘We’ll find out where we are as a program,’’ Dykes said. ‘‘We’ll find out how we handle the spotlight.’’
Seminoles take hit
The mistakes — taking a bad sack, squandering timeouts, having a punt blocked — all added up to deal a heavy blow to Florida State’s hopes of contending for the national championship. It has left Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher with no shortage of things to focus on. “In a game like that, there are a lot of wouldas, couldas, shouldas,’’ Fisher said after Saturday night’s 17-16 loss at North Carolina State. ‘‘It comes down to execution and that comes down to coaching and we didn’t do a good job, and it starts with me.’’ The Seminoles (5-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) entered Raleigh with a No. 3 ranking — their highest since 2003 — and looked headed for an easy win when they led, 16-0, at halftime. But NC State rallied and went ahead on a 2-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with 16 seconds left, while EJ Manuel’s desperation heave downfield was knocked away to end it moments later. The loss knocked Florida State to No. 12 heading into Saturday’s game against Boston College . . . TCU coach Gary Patterson met with the school’s chancellor and athletic director but couldn’t say anything more about suspended quarterback Casey Pachall. Pachall was indefinitely suspended after being arrested early Thursday on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. That came eight months after Paschal admitted to police that he smoked marijuana and failed a team-administered drug test. Redshirt freshman Trevone Boykin threw for 270 yards and had three interceptions Saturday in a 37-23 home loss to Iowa State, the Frogs’ first defeat of the season . . . First-year coach Bill O’Brien, the former offensive coordinator of the Patriots, is making an impact on Penn State’s offense. The Nittany Lions (4-2, 2-0 Big Ten) ran 99 offensive plays in an upset of Northwestern Saturday, equaling the school record set in 1966, former coach Joe Paterno’s first season.