The momentum of South Florida’s impressive 10-2 season sustained a jolt on Dec. 7 when head coach Willie Taggart was named as the new head coach at Oregon. While Charlie Strong was quickly hired as Taggart’s replacement four days later, interim head coach T.J. Weist will guide the No. 22-ranked Bulls in the Birmingham Bowl.
South Carolina comes in with an unflattering 6-6 record, but two of the Gamecocks’ losses came to Top 10 teams and they went 4-2 in the second half of their schedule. These teams have met just once before – a 34-3 triumph for the Gamecocks in 2004.
South Carolina (6-6) vs. South Florida (10-2)
Dec. 29, 2016
Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama
How to watch
Game time: 2 p.m. ET
TV channel: ESPN
Live stream: You can live stream the game here.
Players to watch
- Take nothing away from stud running back Marlon Mack (1,137 yards rushing, 7.1 yards per carry, 15 touchdowns), but quarterback Quinton Flowers is The Show for South Florida. The 6-foot junior has thrown for 2,551 yards this season with 22 touchdown passes and just six interceptions while equaling Mack in rushing touchdowns (15) and surpassing him in yards per carry (8.1). Flowers leads the Bulls with 1,425 rushing yards.
- Running back Rico Dowdle leads the South Carolina backfield in carries (121), rushing yards (714), and rushing touchdowns (6). The freshman, however, has caught just 14 passes for 47 yards (3.4 yards per reception).
- The Bulls are averaging a comically-successful 6.7 yards per carry this season, with 44 rushing touchdowns.
-Wide receiver Deebo Samuel (45 receptions) and tight end Hayden Hurst (42 receptions) are South Carolina’s top two pass catchers, but neither has a touchdown catch this season.
- Last year (3-9 record) was the only season in the past 13 that South Carolina hasn’t been bowl-eligible.
- South Florida will be making its eighth bowl appearance in just its 16th season of play at the FBS level, sporting a 4-3 all-time bowl record.
- The Gamecocks are 8-12 all-time in bowl games but have won their last four appearances – the second-longest streak in the nation, behind only Marshall (five).
- Bulls receiver Rodney Adams’ 60 catches are more than twice as many as any of his teammates, and he also leads USF by a healthy margin in receiving yards (755).
- The Birmingham Bowl has taken place annually since 2006 at historic Legion Field.
- South Florida gained its first-ever bowl win at Legion Field, in the 2006 PapaJohns.com Bowl.