COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Spencer Rattler had a goal he shared with his South Carolina teammates before taking the field against Vanderbilt.
“Let's win big,” Rattler said. Mission accomplished.
Rattler passed for 351 yards and three touchdowns as the Gamecocks won their 15th straight over Vanderbilt, 47-6, on Saturday.
Rattler, in his second year since transferring from Oklahoma, has been one of the brightest spots in a so-so season at South Carolina (4-6, 2-5 Southeastern Conference). He's connected on more than 70 percent of his throws with 17 touchdowns and six interceptions.
This was his second straight game over 300 yards and his fifth this season.
“I feel like always in the month of November I've played at a high level, no matter where I was at,” Rattler said.
Rattler and the Gamecocks took control early to open a 27-0 lead and break a four-game SEC losing streak.
Rattler, who also ran for a score, finished 28 of 36 and was looking for the end zone with the game well in hand as he connected with O'Mega Blake on a 26-yard TD with less than six minutes left to put South Carolina up 40-6.
And it continued South Carolina's last-ditch hope for a bowl game, which would be the third in as many seasons under coach Shane Beamer.
“In one word, momentum,” tight end Joshua Simon said. “We wanted to get that momentum and finish strong.”
It won't be easy with Kentucky, ranked for several weeks this season, ahead next Saturday and revived rival Clemson to close out the regular season, to reach the six wins necessary for the postseason.
It was another disheartening performance for Vanderbilt (2-9, 0-7), which must go to No. 14 Tennessee — the Vols won that 56-0 a year ago — to avoid a second winless SEC season in coach Clark Lea's three years.
Rattler and the Gamecocks came out firing despite the rainy, cold air and consistently found his favorite target this season in Xavier Legette.
Legette's 39-yard catch to the Vanderbilt 1 bailed out a scrambling Rattler and defensive tackle Alex Huntley caught the TD pass a play later.
Rattler hit all seven of his passes on the next drive, which he ended with a 1-yard TD run.
Mario Anderson had a 72-yard touchdown burst after escaping a wall of Vanderbilt defenders to put South Carolina ahead 27-0 in the third quarter. Anderson finished with 102 yards rushing.
Gamecocks freshman Keenan Nelson Jr. blocked a Matthew Hayball punt and ran it back 18 yards for a touchdown.
Legette, who had nine catches for 120 yards, became the fifth South Carolina receiver ever to surpass 1,000 yards in a season with 1,093. It was his fourth game with over 100 yards in pass catches this season.
The biggest drama after halftime was whether South Carolina would post its first shutout over an SEC team since 2006. But Ken Seals' 19-yard scoring pass to Quincy Skinner Jr. to start the fourth quarter took care of that.
Vanderbilt: The Commodores showed early on they wouldn't have enough offensively to make a dent in South Carolina's defense on a soggy, dank afternoon. Vanderbilt's best starting position came at the SC 35 after an interception. But it managed only 2 yards the next four plays to give the ball back to the Gamecocks.
South Carolina: It may be too little too late for the Gamecocks, who have won consecutive games for the first time all season. They have a tough task ahead to send coach Shane Beamer to a bowl game for the third time in as many seasons, needing to beat Kentucky and rival Clemson to reach six victories.
Vanderbilt coach Clark Lea said he was “disgusted” by how his team finished the game. The Commodores were down just 13-0 midway through the third period before giving up five touchdowns after that, including one off a blocked punt.
Two others came on short fields after lost fumbles and two other, including Anderson’s long scoring run, were breakdowns in tackling, Lea said.
“Just a really disappointing effort with that finish,” he said. “Yeah, just disgusted with the way this team finished the game. There's ownership all the way around for that.”
After losing runner Dakereon Joyner a week ago, South Carolina had speedy tailback Juju McDowell go out for the year with a broken collarbone. The running back room is down to two scholarship runners in starter Mario Anderson and freshman Djay Braswell.
Vanderbilt gets a bye week before closing the season at state rival No. 14 Tennessee on Nov. 25.
South Carolina ends its SEC season at home against Kentucky on Saturday.
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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll