South Carolina (7-5) vs. Connecticut (7-5)
Jan. 2, 2 p.m., (ESPN)
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said the Gamecocks weren’t picky, that they’d go play wherever they were told to go. As it turns out, they were the last team picked in the SEC’s bowl pecking order and will square off against Connecticut in the PapaJohns.com Bowl.
The game will be played at Legion Field, where Spurrier won his first SEC championship game while coaching at Florida in 1993. Some 16 years later, he hopes to cap South Carolina’s season with a win for only the second time in his five years as the Gamecocks’ coach.
At one point this season, it looked like the Gamecocks might be teetering after one-sided losses at Tennessee and Arkansas. But they regrouped and lost to Florida in a game that went down to the fourth quarter, and after a bye week, whipped Clemson in the regular-season finale in their most complete effort of the season.
There’s a lot of young talent on this team, led by freshman cornerback Stephon Gilmore, freshman receiver Alshon Jeffery, redshirt freshman defensive end Devin Taylor and sophomore quarterback Stephen Garcia.
The Gamecocks could be one of the teams to watch next season in the Eastern Division. Getting to eight wins and playing well in Birmingham would be a good way to go into the offseason.