For Sanders, facing ‘Noles is a family affair

When South Carolina faces Florida State in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl on New Year's Eve, not only will an old ACC rivalry be reignited, but also a family rivalry for USC freshman wide receiver Ace Sanders. Sanders' father Tracey played at Florida State in the 1980s, but will be watching his son take on his alma mater this time around.

For Ace Sanders, December 31st will be a big day. Not only will he and his South Carolina teammates look to reverse two straight years of bowl game embarrassment in this matchup against Florida State, but he will also be taking the field against the school his father played with for the first time.

Tracey Sanders, who excelled as a defensive back at Florida State and played opposite the great Deion Sanders, will have a big choice to make as to who is going to cheer for when the two teams take the field in the Georgia Dome. Ace said that it is not only a thrill to face a school from his home state and his Dad's alma mater, but also a school that was in the market for his services before Carolina signed him.

"It feels real good, get to go back (against an in-state school), and it was my Dad's alma mater, so I get to go back and play against them," said Ace Sanders after practice earlier this week. "And being recruited heavily by them too, it's going to feel good to go in and play them."

And as for those who think Dad may be conflicted as to who to cheer for come game day, Ace says that he has no worries that his father will be wearing the garnet and black.

"Oh, he's Carolina (on) down. (It's) pretty interesting because I've got old videos back at home of the games when they'd play Florida, Miami, you know all of those schools. I got to see how the game has changed from that time up to this new millennium."

The younger Sanders has gotten to experience a great deal of playing time in his inaugural season, hauling in 24 passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns, as well as sharing punt return duties with incumbent starter Stephon Gilmore.

Although those early accolades are nice, a bowl win would mean much to more to Sanders and the rest of the team, after seeing the Gamecocks fall 31-10 to Iowa and 20-7 to Connecticut in their last two bowl appearances.

Sanders and his wide receiving teammates will try to take advantage of the Florida State pass defense that comes in ranked 67th in the country. But Sanders cautions that it won't be easy, as the state of Florida is always respected for the athletes it produces on the defensive side of the ball.

"I've always known them to have some good athletic DB's, they can run really fast. Their whole secondary is pretty fast, defensive line, linebackers, they can all run. Preparation's going well, we're focused in the weight room, locker room, meetings, (and) it's going real well."

So the table is set, and as Tracey watches and Ace plays, the Gamecocks will battle the Seminoles on the final day of 2010 for the right to be called Chick-Fil-A Bowl Champions.

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