LEXINGTON, Ky. -- South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier spent all week cautioning his players not to get too high after upsetting defending national champion Alabama a week ago.
Kentucky's Randall Cobb caught a 24-yard touchdown pass with 1:15 remaining then added the two-point conversion to cap a furious second-half rally and give Wildcats a 31-28 win over the Gamecocks on Saturday night.
Repeating The Pattern
South Carolina's win over Alabama last week was the seventh win at home by a team ranked outside of the top 10 over a conference opponent ranked No. 1 overall. The Gamecocks became the fourth straight such team to lose the following week Saturday.
Mike Hartline threw for a career-high 349 yards and four touchdowns for Kentucky (4-3, 1/3 SEC), which overcame an 18-point halftime deficit to stun South Carolina (4-2, 2-2).
South Carolina drove to the Kentucky 20 in the final minute but quarterback Stephen Garcia's heave into the end zone was intercepted by Kentucky's Anthony Mosley with 4 seconds remaining. Hartline took a knee to set off a raucous celebration and end two decades of torture at the hands of the Head Ball Coach.
Spurrier was a perfect 17-0 against the Wildcats before Kentucky finally found a way to beat a ranked opponent for the first time since 2007.
South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore had 212 yards of total offense and three touchdowns but spent most of the second half on the sideline with an ankle injury.
The Gamecocks struggled without their freshman star and lost a chance to stamp themselves as the favorite in the SEC East in the process.
Kentucky shut the Gamecocks down over the final 30 minutes, shutting out South Carolina while slowly chipping away at the lead.
Hartline hit LaRod King for a 5-yard touchdown pass to bring Kentucky within 28-17. Then he found Chris Matthews for a 38-yard score to get within 28-23.
Given one last chance with 7:31 remaining, Hartline guided Kentucky to the South Carolina 24. Facing fourth down, he pumped the ball once and lofted the ball to a wide open Cobb in the end zone. Cobb bulled over left tackle for the 2-point conversion to put the Wildcats up three.
Garcia, who finished with 382 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, quickly moved the ball to the Kentucky 20 with 11 seconds remaining.
The Gamecocks used a timeout and opted to take a shot at winning in regulation. Garcia threw it up to 6-foot-3 receiver Lamar Scruggs. The ball was tipped and Mosley clutched it to snap Kentucky's 10-game losing streak to the Gamecocks.
The giddy celebration hardly seemed possible after a first half in which the Gamecocks did whatever they wanted behind the precocious Lattimore.
The freshman bounced off Kentucky's would-be tacklers on handoffs or ran past the overmatched defensive ends who had the unfortunate assignment of covering him on pass routes out of the backfield.
Lattimore came into the game with 81 yards receiving all season. He had 133 in the first half alone, when the Gamecocks victimized Kentucky's overzealous pass rush by sending Lattimore on wheel routes out of the backfield.
Three times Lattimore ran by a Kentucky defender and into the open field, gaining huge chunks of yardage. A 48-yard reception set up his own 10-yard touchdown run, and later added a 47-yard scoring pass in which he sprinted past defensive end Taylor Wyndham then easily sidestepped another Kentucky defender at the 10 before strolling into the end zone.
The score gave the Gamecocks a 28-10 halftime lead, and things could have been worse. South Carolina turned it over three times in the half, and the Wildcats turned two of the miscues into points.