October 7, 2007

Norwood, defense lead charge up the polls

One statistic told the tale in last Thursday's 38-23 victory over Kentucky, a verdict that knocked the Wildcats from the ranks of the unbeaten and propelled the Gamecocks to the No. 7 spot in this week's Associated Press poll.

In the third quarter, USC had minus-15 yards of offense in three fruitless possessions compared to 161 yards in 29 plays for the Kentucky, which held the ball for over 10 minutes.

Yet, USC outscored the Wildcats, 7-3, to build a 17-10 halftime advantage into a 24-13 lead with one quarter remaining.

Despite being on the field for over two-thirds of the time, USC's defense limited the Wildcats to a single field goal in the quarter, and actually scored the lone touchdown on an errant lateral that Eric Norwood scooped up and returned 53 yards for a touchdown.

That key play was part of a splendid defensive effort that limited Kentucky to 227 passing yards, 41 yards less than their average coming in, and 384 total yards, 108.2 yards less than their impressive average of 492.2 yards per game during its season-opening five-game winning streak.

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