No. 3 Florida drubs No. 9 South Carolina 44-11

Florida Gators tight end Omarius Hines runs for a touchdown against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the second half at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012 in Gainesville, Fla. Florida defeated South Carolina 44-11. (Matt Stamey/Staff photographer)

The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, October 20, 2012 at 7:17 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 20, 2012 at 9:34 p.m.

In a season full of big steps, Florida took a giant one toward Atlanta on Saturday.

A sellout crowd of 90,833 watched the third-ranked Gators demolish No. 9 South Carolina 44-11. A win over Georgia next week would clinch the Eastern Division for UF.

The Gators forced three first-half fumbles, each of which they turned into a touchdown, and dominated the third quarter to go to 7-0 on the season.

"We need to be good in the turnover margin," said Florida coach Will Muschamp. "We're not a good enough team to lose the turnover battle and win."

Florida opened the second half with a touchdown drive and quarterback Jeff Driskel wrapped up a 16-point third quarter with his fourth touchdown pass of the game.

Driskel only threw for 93 yards in the game and finished with minus-5 yards rushing. But the Gators found a way to roll behind their defense and special teams.

Punter Kyle Christy averaged 54.3 yards per punt and one of his bombs was fumbled by South Carolina's Ace Sanders to set up Florida's second touchdown.

"I'm pretty stoked right now," Christy said. "I haven't really gotten this much attention after a game before."

The Gators made it a painful homecoming for Steve Spurrier, whose team has lost two straight after reaching No. 3 in the polls.

"The only thing you can hope is that your guys give it their best shot and not just lay the ball down and basically say, ‘Here Florida, we don't want to win,' " Spurrier said. "You guys take this fumble and this fumble and this fumble. So it was sad, and on the other side, their defense stuffed us."

The Gamecocks managed 191 total yards (still eight more than Florida) and rushed for only 36. Star tailback Marcus Lattimore, who was nursing a bruised hip, carried the ball only three times for 13 yards.

That was fine with Gator fans, who endured 11 losses over the last two seasons and celebrated mightily the second win in three weeks over a top 10 team.

"We've given them something to cheer about," Muschamp said. "We didn't give them a lot to cheer about last year."

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