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 BACK TO OUTBACK?  OR GATOR?

The University of South Carolina football team will likely play either Wisconsin or Northwestern in the 2013 Outback Bowl – no matter who wins next week’s Southeastern Conference (SEC) championship game between Alabama and Georgia.  Or the Gamecocks could wind up in Jacksonville, Florida at the Gator Bowl – depending on whether Outback Bowl officials decide to pick another SEC team ahead of them.

There’s even some talk of a USC-Clemson rematch in the Chick-fil-A bowl in Atlanta, Georgia – although few view that as a realistic possibility.

Here’s what we know: Either the No. 2 Crimson Tide (11-1. 7-1 SEC) or No. 3 Bulldogs (11-1, 7-1 SEC) will play top-ranked Notre Dame (12-0) in the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) national championship on January 7 – with the SEC winner going for the conference’s seventh straight national title.  Meanwhile fourth-ranked Florida (11-1) has already punched its ticket to a BCS bowl game – which means the loser of the SEC Championship is headed to the Capital One Bowl in Orlando (the SEC’s top non-BCS bowl).

Steve Spurrier on the sidelines against Clemson.

After that, things get interesting …

Along with LSU and Texas A&M, the Gamecocks (10-2, 6-2 SEC) are one of three SEC teams with only two losses.  And while it’s conventional wisdom that the Cotton Bowl will pick Texas A&M and the Outback will select South Carolina, Outback officials could pick LSU over the Gamecocks (after all the Bayou Bengals beat the Gamecocks earlier this year – and outrank them in the BCS standings).

If that happens, look for head coach Steve Spurrier’s squad to wind up in the Gator Bowl against a lower-level Big Ten team.

South Carolina is one win away from matching the school record for victories in a season – a mark set last year.  While they obviously want to hit that historic threshold again – they also want to draw the best bowl matchup they can.

USC has history in both the Outback and Gator Bowls.

The Gamecocks won back-to-back Outback Bowls over Ohio State following the 2000 and 2001 seasons (under former head coach Lou Holtz) – but lost to Iowa following the 2008 season under Spurrier.  In Jacksonville, the Gamecocks haven’t fared so well.  USC lost the inaugural Gator Bowl in 1946 to Wake Forest, and then lost three Gator Bowls in the 1980s (versus Pitt in 1980, Oklahoma State in 1984 and LSU in 1987).

Spurrier has guided the Gamecocks to bowl eligibility in seven of his eight seasons in Columbia, S.C. – winning the Liberty Bowl after the 2006 season and the Capitol One Bowl following last season.  However USC has posted losses in the 2005 Independence Bowl, the 2009 Outback Bowl, the 2010 PapaJohns.com Bowl and the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl – leaving Spurrier with a 2-4 bowl record at South Carolina.

Spurrier was 6-5 in bowl games during his 12-year tenure at Florida and lost his only bowl game as head coach at Duke.

Which bowl would you like to see South Carolina participate in this season?  Vote in our poll and post your thoughts in our comments section below …

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