South Carolina football’s projected postseason bowl goal comes into focus as we near Saturday’s season finale in Clemson, a rivalry game set for the Gamecocks to claim their biggest win of the Shane Beamer era over Tennessee. is of great importance.
According to multiple sources familiar with discussions, the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla. appears to be the most likely choice for the Gamecocks. The same sources told 247Sports ahead of South Carolina’s game against Florida this month that Gator Bowl officials had their sights set on the Gamecocks, and if they could pull off seven wins, they’d be the likely pick.
South Carolina’s chances of playing the ACC in the December 30 game diminished after the loss to the Gators, but were reignited after the unexpected win over the Volunteers.
South Carolina officials are campaigning to play in the Gator Bowl for the first time since 1987, and with a 7-5 lead the Gamecocks are one of the league’s most attractive options given the interest from all quarters. According to the SEC’s bowl selection process, the league determines where teams are seeded after the New Year’s Six pairings are announced, and the Gator Bowl is one of six “pool” games assigned after the Citrus Bowl made his choice.
The Orlando-based Citrus Bowl typically selects the highest-ranking SEC team available after the College Football Playoffs and New Year’s Six are completed. South Carolina won’t be included in the rankings this week, but a win over Clemson coupled with Mississippi State’s win over Ole Miss at Thanksgiving could put the Gamecocks at the top of the Citrus Bowl goal list.
There are currently 10 SEC teams qualified for the Bowl and we expect four – Georgia, LSU, Alabama and Tennessee – to participate in the New Year’s Six or playoff games. Florida’s Florida State game is another important clash to watch as sources told 247Sports that if the Gators beat the Seminoles and finish 7-5, the Gator Bowl would attempt to win Billy Napier’s team.
Given the win over Tennessee, the Gamecocks are unlikely to be placed in the Liberty Bowl or any of the SEC games after the pool of six — the Birmingham Bowl or the Gasparilla Bowl. These are expected to be filled by non-SEC teams as the league is unlikely to reach the usual number of bowl-eligible teams.
Sources have told 247Sports that the Gamecocks prefer the Gator Bowl or the Music City Bowl in Nashville with a 7-5 finish. There have been a few national outlets that have purported to place South Carolina in Las Vegas, but our information hasn’t suggested the same thing.
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South Carolina is a 14.5-point underdog in Saturday’s game at Clemson and will be looking for a seven-game loss to the Tigers.