Chick-fil-a Bowl Notebook

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier gets the opportunity to renew an old rivalry on Dec. 31 when the Gamecocks meet Florida State in the Chick-fil-a Bowl in the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

A former player and coach at Florida, Spurrier is more versed on the Seminoles than any opponent he had ever faced.

Both South Carolina and Florida State enter the game after losing their conference championship game. The Seminoles 44-33 to Virginia Tech 44-33, while the Gamecocks were bested by Auburn 56-17.

The Chick-fil-a Bowl gives both teams the opportunity to end what have been largely successful campaigns on a positive note.

Following the Southeastern Conference title game, also in the Georgia Dome, in which South Carolina was thoroughly dominated by Auburn, the Gamecocks are anxious to return to the scene and bury that performance.

"We had a good year," said Spurrier, whose team owns a 9-4 mark. "It wasn't a super year that we had all hoped for as Gamecocks. But it's a very good year. If we win a bowl game, we win 10 games and tie the school record. That's what we'll try to do."

When he took over the South Carolina program six years ago, Spurrier set as a goal claiming first place in the SEC Eastern Division, then winning the league crown.

The Gamecocks reached half of that goal, but they have to put aside not obtaining the second part as they attempt to earn a 10-win season for only the second time in team history.

Spurrier believes it is important not only for his team but the South Carolina fan base for the Gamecocks to close out its more successful campaign with him as coach on a positive note.

"The noise that our Gamecocks (fans) made, it was something else," Spurrier said of the pregame scene at the SEC title game. "I've never heard it in pregame. I just, again, wish we could have given them a lot better performance to continue that yelling as the game went on."

"I'm not used to (losing) like we did (against Auburn)," South Carolina freshman Marcus Lattimore said. "But we've got to put it behind us and get ready for the bowl game."

The last time the Gamecocks met Florida State was 1991, when the Seminoles earned a 38-10 victory. Florida State owns a six-game winning streak against South Carolina.


--South Carolina has been bowl-eligible in each of Steve Spurrier's six seasons with the team. The Gamecocks own a 1-3 bowl record in Spurrier's first five campaigns. South Carolina was not offered a bowl invitation in 2007 despite going 6-6.

--South Carolina has only played in the bowl game in Atlanta once, in 1969, when it dropped a 14-3 decision to West Virginia in what was then called the Peach Bowl. It was played at Grant Field on the campus of Georgia Tech. West Virginia was coached by Jim Carlen, who later became in South Carolina's coach.

--South Carolina and Florida State had two common opponents this season, Clemson and Florida. The Seminoles defeated Clemson 17-14 on a last-second, 55-yard field goal in Tallahassee, Fla., while the Gamecocks topped the Tigers 29-7 in Clemson.

The Gamecocks beat Florida 36-14 in Gainesville, Fla., while the Seminoles claimed a 31-7 victory in Tallahassee.


--RB Marcus Lattimore has not scored a touchdown on rushed for 100 yards in his last two games. He played well against Auburn, however, rushing for 84 yards on 16 carries and catching three passes for 36 yards.

--QB Stephen Garcia took a step backwards in the SEC title game, throwing two interceptions, with one being returned for a touchdown. The good thing is the redshirt junior has normally rebounded with outstanding performances following a bad one.

--CB Stephon Gilmore had probably his worst game at South Carolina. Considered one of the top corners in the SEC, he was burned several times by Auburn receivers, and he needs to get back on his game against Florida State.

--South Carolina's Steve Spurrier was anxious to accept the team's bid to the bowl so his team can attempt to redeem itself. "That is one of the great events in college football, the SEC championship. The Chick-fil-A Bowl is the next greatest event," Spurrier said. "We have a chance to play in it. We have to go in there, compete and get into the game with our competition."

BOWL HISTORY: South Carolina is 4-11 in bowls. Steve Spurrier has won only once in four attempts and has dropped two in a row.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I really admire (Florida State coach) Jimbo Fisher and everything he does there. They run a pretty class program. They are going to be pretty good. They had a nice year this year. They have had a year almost exactly like ours. We are all trying to regroup and get ourselves a bowl victory. It should be a heck of a game." -- Coach Steve Spurrier, on why ne no longer considers Florida State a hated rival.



Scouting the running game: With freshman Marcus Lattimore getting most of the attempts, the South Carolina running game has been in good hands this season. He has rushed for 1,198 yards and 17 touchdowns in 12 games. He has not topped the 100-yard mark or scored a touchdown in his last two encounters, however. The offensive line has been solid in front of him thanks to the work of first-year coach Shawn Elliott. South Carolina faces a Florida State team that allows 127 yards per game on the ground, but only 11 touchdowns.

Scouting the passing game: Although there have been some rough patches, Stephen Garcia has finally proven to be the leader Steve Spurrier wants. He has completed 205 of 315 passes for 2,816 yards and 20 touchdowns while suffering 11 interceptions. Alshon Jeffery, who has already made some All-America teams, remains the top target with 79 catches for 1,387 yards and nine touchdowns. Tori Gurley follows with 42 receptions for 416 yards and four scores. The Seminoles struggle guarding against the pass, allowing 221 yards and 21 touchdowns.

Scouting the run defense: The Gamecocks have been strong against the run throughout the season. They lead the SEC in run defense, averaging 104.3 yards per game. They face a challenge against Florida State. The Seminoles, using several backs, are averaging 167 yards per game on the ground.

Scouting the pass defense: After appearing to have their problems solved, the Gamecocks regressed in the SEC Championship game against Auburn, giving up 351 yards and four touchdowns through the air. While a lot of it was poor coverage, the team was unable to get much of a pass rush against quarterback Cam Newton. Florida State's Christian Ponder poses some of the same problems if he recovers from an arm injury that has hampered him most of the season.

Scouting the special teams: South Carolina has not returned a punt or kickoff for a touchdown for years. The Gamecocks have only allowed one touchdown on a special teams return this season, which came on the opening kickoff against Florida. Spencer Lanning has done an excellent job handling both the placekicking and punting duties.

Intangibles: This is probably one of the closest teams since Steve Spurrier has been in charge. The players credit those relationships with helping them rebound quickly after bad losses.


--CB C.C. Whitlock suffered a sprained knee against Auburn, but he should be fine for the bowl game.

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