COLUMBIA S.C. _ Although University of Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy competed 79 percent of his passes Saturday and had a career-high 315 yards, the senior ended up on the losing side for the first time since eighth grade.
He also had two touchdown passes and no interceptions, but wound up being sacked seven times with one resulting in a fumble that South Carolina's offense quickly converted into a touchdown.
"A couple of times when I got out of the pocket I was looking for the check-down," he said. "The defensive line did a great job tonight against Mark (Ingram) and Trent (Richardson) and wouldn't let them get out. We just took a lot of negative plays, whatever, sacks, rushes for negative yards, things like that."
The Gamecocks were credited with nine tackles for a loss and four hurries, but the statistic that may have killed the Crimson Tide in the second half was third-down conversions. Alabama was 0-for-5, while South Carolina went 5-for-8.
"I don't think he handled the pressure real well at times," said Saban, using the example of taking a loss when the offense was in field-goal range. Overall, though, he thought his quarterback played pretty well despite the circumstances.
"It's hard to play quarterback when the guys around you aren't playing well," Saban said.
Starters and injuries
Coaches continued to tweak the linebackers with true freshman C.J. Mosley making his first start at weakside. He was the 20th player to make his first collegiate starts this season (15 starters, five specialists):
Offense: LG Chance Warmack, RT DJ Fluker, RB Trent Richardson.
Defense: DE Damion Square, DE Luther Davis, NG Kerry Murphy, LB Chavis Williams, Mosley, LB Jerrell Harris, LB Ed Stinson, CB Dre Kirkpatrick, CB DeQuan Menzie, CB DeMarcus Milliner, FS Robert Lester and CB Phelon Jones.
Special teams: DS Carson Tinker, K Cade Foster, P Cody Mandell and K Jeremy Shelley
Junior wide receiver Julio Jones (bruised knee) started and also returned punts. Junior linebacker Chris Jordan (hamstring) did suit up. Junior linebacker Courtney Upshaw left in the third quarter with an apparent ankle injury, but returned. Redshirt freshman tackle D.J. Fluker appeared to aggravate his hip injury in the fourth quarter.
Ingram moved into fourth place on the Alabama career rushing list with his first carry against South Carolina, a 7-yard carry out of the wildcat formation, after being tied with Johnny Musso. He finished with 41 yards on 11 carries.
3,565 Shaun Alexander (727 att.), 1996-99 3,420 Bobby Humphrey (615 att.), 1985-88 3,324 Kenneth Darby (702 att.), 2003-06 2,782 Mark Ingram (466 att.), 2008-present 2,741 Johnny Musso (574 att.), 1969-71
History was not on Tide's side
According to ESPN Stats & Information, this was the seventh time that the No. 1 team in the Associated Press poll defeated a top-10 opponent at home and then faced a nationally ranked opponent on the road the next week. In the previous six instances, the No. 1 team lost five times:
Year Team, Defeated, Next week
1936 Minnesota, No. 5 Purdue, L at No. 3 Northwestern, 6-0 1959 LSU, No. 3 Ole Miss, L at No. 13 Tennessee, 14-13 1969 Ohio State, No. 10 Purdue, L at No. 12 Michigan, 24-12 1990 Notre Dame, No. 4 Michigan, W at No. 24 Michigan State, 20-19 2007 LSU, No. 9 Florida, L at No. 17 Kentucky, 43-37 (3 OT) 2008 Texas, No. 7 Oklahoma State, L at No. 6 Texas Tech, 39-33 2010 Alabama, No. 7 Florida, L at No. 19 South Carolina, 35-21
South Carolina's three touchdowns in the first half matched the Tide's total allowed all season. It had only give up 16 points in the first quarter before the Gamecocks scored twice.
The Gamecocks believe they're just the second school in history in defeat the No. 1 team in three different men's sports during the same calendar year: men's basketball defeated Kentucky on Jan. 26, and baseball beat Arizona State on June 22. Florida also did it in 2007 (Ohio State in football and basketball and Florida State in baseball).
Coming into the game, Alabama was averaging 4.4 three-and-outs per game, which was actually down from 2009's 5.61. ... Team captains were James Carpenter, Preston Dial and Dont'a Hightower. ... Matt Moore's crew officiated the game. ... A moment of silence was held before the game for former Gamecocks wide receiver Kenny McKinley. It was South Carolina's first home game since his death late last month.