When the South Carolina Gamecocks were scheduled to play the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Thursday, September 20, 2001, months before the season, it was just another game.
In fact, when the Gamecocks stepped off the field with a 14-9 victory over then 25th-ranked Georgia on September 8, it was supposed to be a regular off week, more time to prepare for their battle against Mississippi State in Starkville.No one knew the earth-shattering events that would take place on that Tuesday, thirteen years ago today, a day that some current Gamecocks couldn’t fully process at the time, but would come to learn more about and fully grasp as they got older.
Sports were the farthest thing from anyone’s minds for days and even weeks following. The only overarching questions centered around what happened, whether or not we would be attacked again, who did it, and, for others, whether or not their loved one was OK.
Slowly, but painfully and surely, things began to get back as close to normal as possible, and the Thursday, September 20, 2001 contest between the visiting South Carolina Gamecocks and the Mississippi State Bulldogs, the first Division 1-A (now FBS) football game played after the attacks, was more than just another game. It was a time to come together, heal, and escape, even for just a few hours, the hurt of a painful event that took place just nine days ago.
That day, there were no South Carolina fans. There were no Mississippi State fans. They were all united under one flag, as one people, one nation.