COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Connor Shaw threw for 217 yards and three touchdowns, including Alshon Jeffery's first scoring catch in more than a month, and No. 14 South Carolina defeated The Citadel 34-20 on Saturday.
The Gamecocks (9-2) reached nine victories in back-to-back years for the first time in school history and held out hope for even more until Georgia's 19-10 win over Kentucky wrapped up the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division title for the Bulldogs.
The Gamecocks will have to settle for getting their sluggish offense moving again and bringing back Jeffery into the mix. Jeffery caught a 32-yard scoring pass using just his right arm as Citadel defender Joseph Boateng pinned him near the left sideline of the end zone.
Jeffery finished with five catches for 81 yards, his most productive game since a 54-3 victory over Kentucky in early October. After Jeffery's catch, the crowd at Williams-Brice Stadium chanted, ``One More Year.'' Jeffery, a junior, is considered one of the top receiving prospects for next spring's NFL draft.
Brandon Wilds ran for 109 yards and South Carolina's first two touchdowns. Shaw was 16 of 18 passing and added 90 yards on the ground, including a 60-yard touchdown run right before halftime.
Shaw also had touchdown passes of 25 yards to Ace Sanders and 20 yards to Rory Anderson.
It was a satisfying victory for South Carolina, especially for the offense which had averaged just 18 points a game in its previous four games after losing quarterback Stephen Garcia to dismissal and tailback Marcus Lattimore to injury.
The Gamecocks had 473 yards, nearly double Citadel's total.
The victory improved South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier to 44-0 against opponents from outside the BCS automatic qualifying conferences.
The Gamecocks get their first crack at a 10th victory when No. 7 Clemson comes to Williams-Brice for the school's annual season-ending rivalry game. South Carolina had only had three years with at least nine victories in 118 seasons of football before now.
Things don't figure to be easy with the high-flying Tigers. Then again, the Gamecocks figured to struggle against the Citadel's triple-option attack.
But the Bulldogs (4-7), who entered as the third-leading rushing team in the Football Championship Subdivision, wound up with just 249 yards.
Spurrier was fairly resigned to the idea that Georgia wouldn't stumble at home against Kentucky and end the Gamecocks' hopes of returning to Atlanta. Spurrier didn't talk much to his players about their chances because South Carolina had done all it could.
And the Gamecocks played early on like a team without a lot at stake against their FCS opponents.
South Carolina struck first, which was a little unusual since the Gamecocks hadn't done that in 13 games dating back to last season. Shaw completed two straight passes to Jeffery before Wilds took over, rushing for 37 yards and ending the drive with a 1-yard TD run.
Shaw was intercepted by safety Rah Muhammad on the Gamecocks next series. Darien Robinson recovered his own fumble in the end zone for a tying touchdown five plays later.
After Wilds' second scoring run, the Citadel held the ball for more than 8 minutes against South Carolina's defense. The series ended in Ryan Sellers' 32 yard field goal.
Shaw showed his speed when South Carolina got the ball back, breaking off a 60-yard touchdown run and sprinting through three Citadel defenders with 1:14 left in the half.
The Bulldogs recovered, though, moving 40 yards in 1:11 to set up Sellers' 41-yard field goal, his longest of the season.