COLUMBIA, SC (The Big Spur) - South Carolina finally knows its bowl game destination with certainty. After posting a 7-5 record overall with a 4-4 mark in the Southeastern Conference, the Gamecocks will play in the Belk Bowl against the Virginia Cavaliers.
The news comes on Sunday afternoon after weeks of speculation on where the Gamecocks would end up. The Belk and Gator Bowls were the favorites to land South Carolina in recent weeks but not long after the College Football Playoff spots were announced, news of the rest of the bowl announcements started to trickle out.
Head coach Will Muschamp is the first person to lead the Gamecocks to a bowl game in each of his first three seasons. South Carolina has a 1-1 record in those game losing the Birmingham Bowl to USF in his first season, but beating Michigan in the Outback Bowl last year.
The Cavaliers, in the bowl game as reported in the Belk Bowl by Brett McMurphy of Stadium, also finished 7-5 on the season with a 4-4 mark in ACC play. Virginia has lost its last two games, which both came on the road. Georgia Tech notched a three-point victory while Virginia Tech had a big comeback to win 34-31 to notch its 15th straight victory in the in-state rivalry game.
South Carolina has won 21 of the 35 meetings between the two teams with one of those games resulting in a tie. The last two times the teams have met, which came in 2002 and 2003, the teams split with both teams winning at home.
Virginia is averaging 28.5 points per game and is giving up 21.8 points per game. The Cavaliers have been pretty balanced offensively averaging 211.9 yards per game through the air and 170.6 yards per game on the ground. Quarterback Bryce Perkins is a dual threat player as he averages 206.0 yards per game passing and 70.2 yards per game on the ground. He is the team’s second-leading rusher. Safety Juan Thornhill leads the team in tackles with 92 and interceptions with five.
Next up for the Gamecocks is a little bit of time off. With the regular season over and exams upcoming, players will only be around the stadium for some work in the weight room and some rehab time in the training room.
“Our guys need some time off,” Muschamp said. “They’ve worked extremely hard. They’ll be in the building for lifting only Tuesday and Thursday next week. If they don’t need any treatment or anything, they need to decompress and get away a little bit.”
Last year, bowl week activities for the players included a trip to the Charlotte Motor Speedway and NASCAR Hall of Fame as well as a shopping spree at a local Belk’s store and volunteer work at a local food bank.