The talk about Connor Shaw being criminally underrated only comes up after big wins for South Carolina, and their ability to put themselves back in the SEC East race by beating an undefeated team has done the same for their injured quarterback, who came off the bench in an hour of need to save them from another underachieving season.
By returning from the bench and finishing the game with three touchdown passes, all coming in the fourth quarter and overtime, Shaw also ruined Missouri’s undefeated season, which always happens sooner or later, be it in the SEC or Big 12. The Tigers held a 17-0 lead going into the fourth quarter but completely fell apart. Shaw found Nick Jones with 42 seconds left on the clock to send the game into overtime. After another touchdown pass in overtime, it was Missouri’s missed 24-yard field goal that ended the game and put the Gamecocks in excellent position to still find themselves in the conference title game with a 27-24 win.
Dylan Thompson was starting for Shaw, but despite being the healthier of the two, his struggles meant Steve Spurrier had to go with the more talented player in a do or die situation. Picking up a third conference loss would have been the end of their aspirations this season. Instead, they now have only two losses in the SEC, with four consecutive home games to play. Florida and Clemson look a lot less scarier than they did earlier this season all of a sudden, and one more Mizzou slip up, with their visits to Ole Miss or playing at home against Texas A&M looking like perfect test cases, gives South Carolina the edge in the division.
After not scoring a single point with Dylan Thompson on the field, Connor Shaw came in early in the second half despite his knee sprain from last week. He was on the field for six possessions, and South Carolina scored on five of them. There were his three touchdown passes and two field goals by Elliott. including a 40-yard winner in overtime.
Somehow, in yet another season with high expectations but at least one or two moments of extreme disappointment, South Carolina find themselves not all out of hope. Their defense and especially their defensive line isn’t as imposing as it should have been, with teams handling JaDeveon Clowney quite well all season long. Their running game isn’t all that special, as they ran for only 75 yards against Missouri. All that’s left to separate them from the mediocre is Connor Shaw, who not for the first time, stepped up despite not being completely up to it from a physical stand point.
That’s what great players do, and Connor’s a great player. I hope everybody knows that. He put this team on his back tonight. If it works out for us, we might look back and wonder, ‘How in the heck did we win this one?’ But these are the kind you’ve got to win if you’re going to do something special. Connor wasn’t going to let us lose that game, plain and simple. We rallied around him, and he rallied around us. A lot of people might have thought we were done after we lost last week, and I know they probably thought that after the way this game started. But this team doesn’t quit. We keep fighting, and we keep leaning on each other.