SOUTH CAROLINA ACCEPTS INVITATION TO BIRMINGHAM BOWL …
The University of South Carolina football team has accepted an invitation to play in the 2016 Birmingham Bowl.
Weak? Yes. As bowls go, this is hardly the crème de la crème (as anyone who has been to Birmingham’s Legion Field in recent years can attest). Of course considering South Carolina posted a 3-9 record a year ago and seemed on track for a similarly disastrous season this year … Gamecock fans will take what they can get. And first-year head coach Will Muschamp and his staff will take the extra month of practice to further develop their young talent – most notably true freshman quarterback Jake Bentley.
The Gamecocks (6-6, 3-5 SEC) will face South Florida (10-2, 7-1 AAC). The Bulls are led by junior quarterback Quinton Flowers, who threw for more than 2,500 yards and ran for more 1,000 yards this season. The 6-foot-0, 210-pound Miami native currently ranks tenth in the nation in total offense with 331.3 yards per game.
Stopping Flowers will be a tremendous challenge for South Carolina’s defense – which gave up 622 yards and 56 points to arch-rival Clemson its last time out.
Both the Bulls and Gamecocks have played in this bowl game before. The Gamecocks lost to Connecticut in January 2010, while the Bulls defeated East Carolina in the inaugural game in December 2006. The game was known as the Papajohns.com Bowl at the time.
South Carolina has an 8-12 all-time bowl record but has won four straight – beating Nebraska in the 2012 Capital One Bowl, Michigan in the 2013 Outback Bowl, Wisconsin in the 2014 Capital One Bowl, and Miami (Fla.) in the 2014 Independence Bowl.
The Gamecocks have been bowl-eligible in twelve of the past thirteen seasons. They elected not to participate in a bowl game following a 6-5 season in 2004, did not receive a bowl bid following a 6-6 campaign in 2007, and did not qualify for a bowl last year.
Kickoff for the game will be at 2:00 p.m. EST on Thursday, December 29. ESPN will provide national television coverage.
(Banner via Travis Bell Photography)