COLUMBIA, S.C. — After delivering South Carolina's biggest win ever, all coach Steve Spurrier could do was smile.
"I think that this game was meant to be," he said.
The way the Gamecocks played, it sure seemed like it.
Stephen Garcia threw three touchdowns, two to Alshon Jeffrey, and Marcus Lattimore scored three times as No. 19 South Carolina beat No. 1 Alabama 35-21 on Saturday.
Never before had the Gamecocks beaten a No. 1 team. So Spurrier had plenty of reason to bask in one of the biggest victories of his illustrious career.
When Spurrier arrived from the Redskins in 2005, expectations in Columbia soared. He had dominated the SEC and led Florida to a national title in 1996. South Carolina has been solid under Spurrier but hasn't come close to even winning the SEC East.
But after beating Alabama, its matchup at Florida on Nov. 13 could decide the division title.
"I said 'Fellas, if fate means for us to win this game , then let's give it a chance. Let's give fate a chance to happen,' " Spurrier said.
Opponents have had little chance against Alabama over the past few seasons.
The defending national champions had won 19 in a row, including 31-6 over Florida last week — since losing the January 2009 Sugar Bowl to Utah.
But facing a third straight ranked SEC team caught up with Alabama.
The Gamecocks shredded the country's top-rated scoring defense, putting up the most points since a 41-34 loss to LSU in 2007. The Gamecocks scored four touchdowns when they got inside the Tide 20 — double what they had allowed coming in.
"It's not like we just lost. They beat us," said Alabama coach Nick Saban, who is 1-3 against Spurrier. "They outexecuted us. They played better than we played. They played with more intensity. They played physical."
Garcia, a graduate of Tampa's Jefferson High, was pulled from South Carolina's last game, a 35-27 loss at Auburn, after fumbling twice. Saturday, he was 17-of-20 for 201 yards and one interception. He also picked up a fourth and 1 on the Gamecocks' final scoring drive.
Saban wants the Tide to remember the loss should they run into the Gamecocks again — maybe in Atlanta.
"I talked to (Tide quarterback Greg McElroy) after the game," Garcia said. "And he said, 'We'll see you all again.' "