The Daily Gamecock

Return trip to Florida likely for football team

Cotton Bowl best-case scenario for Gamecocks

It was an eventful weekend for South Carolina fans as they defeated Clemson for the fifth-straight year. This one took a little longer than the other four to determine the outcome; but once again, Tiger quarterback Tajh Boyd couldn’t handle the big game pressure, throwing two interceptions in the fourth quarter. Boyd’s struggles coupled with the slippery fingers of Clemson returner Adam Humphries gave the Tigers no chance to pull out the win.

But now with that win behind us and Texas A&M’s inability to pull off a victory in Missouri, the Gamecocks are left waiting for their bowl destination. This marks the third-straight year that South Carolina has defeated the eventual SEC East champions while not making an appearance themselves in the title game.

But Missouri deserved the division title and the Gamecocks have no one to blame but themselves. The Tigers did not lose to an unranked team they shouldn’t have lost to. Meanwhile, South Carolina suffered an inexcusable loss against a Tennessee team that had a sub-.500 record and who’s only other league win came against Kentucky. Kentucky.

What the heck?

But there is no use crying over spilled milk now and the Gamecocks still have a lot to look forward to this season, despite once again not having a chance to get that conference championship that has been tantalizingly within reach.

Sure, the Gamecocks may be stuck at 11 wins for the third-straight year, but that is nothing to be tired of. Longtime fans of South Carolina remember the days when they would have given a right leg for an 11-win season.

I do understand the want to go to a bowl other than the Capital One or Outback bowl. Yes, those are both very respectable bowls, but once you’ve been a frequent visitor to both in recent years, it’s time for a change of scenery.

How about the Wild West? Or, in more modern language, Arlington, Texas.
The Cotton Bowl is probably South Carolina’s best-case scenario right now, but one of the more unlikely ones. It is a popular bowl that has featured great matchups over the past couple of years and is one of the bowls that will be involved in the future College Football Playoff that will begin next year.

Last season’s game between Texas A&M and Oklahoma saw more than 87,000 fans in attendance. In addition, the bowl is in “The house that Jerry Jones built”, more formerly known as the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. This means that Gamecock fans could get a chance to watch their team play in a billion-dollar stadium and on a video board that is approximately the size of Texas itself.
But the Cotton Bowl traditionally picks SEC teams from the western division while the Capital One and the Outback bowls get their pick from the East.

So don’t be surprised if the Gamecocks end up in Florida again at the Capital One Bowl.
Before Auburn dumfounded Alabama on a game-winning last-second 109-yard missed field goal return for touchdown, the Gamecocks had a realistic chance at appearing in the BCS Sugar Bowl. It would have involved the Crimson Tide handily beating Auburn and Missouri making its way into the SEC championship to work, but it was possible.

But that didn’t happen and now the winner of the conference championship is more than likely going to be the SEC team that gets the invite to New Orleans. And barring the improbable possibility that Auburn sneaks into the National Title game, Alabama will receive a BCS at-large bid to, by all indications, the Orange Bowl where they could face the Clemson Tigers.
ESPN’s Mark Schlabach and Brad Edwards both have the Gamecocks at the Capital One Bowl playing against Wisconsin. Meanwhile, they both have LSU as the team that will be representing the league in the Cotton Bowl.

If South Carolina does indeed receive another bid to the Capital One Bowl, do not be frustrated. Sure, we’ve been-there-done-that, but it is still one of the biggest non-BCS bowl destinations.
You may have to deal with the Disney World traffic in Orlando, but once you finally get in the stadium, you’ll have a chance to watch the Gamecocks go for their third consecutive 11-2 season, something that should not be taken for granted.


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