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Hendon Hooker leaves with knee injury as South Carolina thrashes No. 5 Tennessee 63-38 to end Vols’ playoff hopes

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No. 5 Tennessee’s dreams of making the college football playoffs faded as the Volunteers failed to stop the South Carolina offense on Saturday night, losing 63–38.

And when we say that Tennessee couldn’t stop South Carolina, we mean it literally. Short of a one-game drive before the end of the first half, South Carolina (7-4) scored touchdowns in eight of their first nine possessions. The Gamecocks scored in their first five possessions of the night and didn’t lose until the third quarter thanks to the fantastic play of QB Spencer Rattler.

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If the loss itself wasn’t hard enough, the night turned even worse for Tennessee (10-2) in the fourth quarter when Heisman candidate quarterback Hendon Hooker crashed to the ground and was untouched. Hooker suffered a left knee injury during the game and never returned to play after limping to the locker room.

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Rattler moved to South Carolina from Oklahoma ahead of the 2022 season after Caleb Williams replaced him as the Sooners’ starting quarterback. Rattler struggled in 2021 when he opened the season as Heisman’s favorite and came to South Carolina looking to get the 2020 form that made him Heisman’s preseason contender.

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This form eluded him until Saturday evening. Throwing eight touchdowns and nine interceptions in South Carolina’s first 10 games of the season, Rattler threw six touchdowns and no interceptions as South Carolina scored the most points of any ranked team against an AP Poll top-five team.

Spencer Rattler’s best performance.

Rattler has never thrown five touchdowns in a single game in Oklahoma, let alone six, and his 438 yards is a career high. It was clear that South Carolina wanted to score as many points as possible when Rattler was still throwing in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter and found Jalen Brooks for a 20-yard TD with 2:06 left.

South Carolina scored 28 straight and ended the game after Tennessee cut USC’s lead to four with 9:53 left in the third quarter. The nine touchdowns scored by the Gamecocks against UT came after USC. only 18 points in attack in their first seven SEC games of the season.

The Gamecocks had over 500 yards on offense and also rushed for three points. Antoine Wells, Jr. had 10 catches for 141 yards and Josh Vann had a catch for 60 yards and 18 yards as the Tennessee minor just couldn’t cover.

The Tennessee offense wasn’t as explosive as it was sometimes in 2022, but still enough to win the game with a decent performance from the Tennessee defense. After all, South Carolina had only scored six points against Florida the week before and 10 against Missouri on October 29.

But the defense ruined the Vols, as UT’s chances of reaching the playoffs are now nil. No two-loss team has ever made the college football playoffs, and Tennessee will not be in the SEC title game. Without that extra game, the Vols will end up 10-2 at best and head into the New Year’s Six bowl. I hope this game Hooker will take part, and his knee injury is not too serious.

South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler (7) wrestles with Tennessee linebacker Tyler Baron (9) during the first half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, November 19, 2022, in Columbia, South Carolina (AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr. )
South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler threw six touchdowns against Tennessee. (AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr.)




Source: sports.yahoo.com

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