South Carolinas players have enough scenarios running around in their heads without worrying about potential bowl game destinations.
At least, thats the message they have been preaching publicly as the regular season comes to an end. Heading into Saturdays regular-season finale against Clemson, the Gamecocks have a shot to play in the Capital One, Outback or Chick-fil-A bowls, according to most national prognosticators.
Bowl games will come, spur Sharrod Golightly said. We just try to take every game as it comes. If we do our job and come out and fight and win, we will be in good position to go to a bowl game.
The best-case scenario for No. 10 South Carolina (9-2) does not hinge on the outcome of Saturdays game against the sixth-ranked Tigers (10-1). If Texas A&M beats Missouri, it will put the Gamecocks in the SEC championship game. If the Gamecocks win that game, they will play in the schools first BCS bowl game the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2.
South Carolinas hopes for an at-large bid to the Sugar Bowl took a big hit with Auburns victory against Georgia. The Tigers are ranked No. 4 in the BCS, and likely wouldnt fall far in those rankings even if they lose to No. 1 Alabama on Saturday. If Auburn upsets the Crimson Tide, Alabama almost certainly would take the SECs at-large BCS bid.
Bowl placement matters a little bit, I guess, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. People brag about that, and so forth, that you go to a BCS bowl game. It pays a little more, so I know athletic director (Ray) Tanner and president (Harris) Pastides would love to see us in a BCS bowl. The players, they get the same gift whether its that bowl or a non-BCS bowl, as they call it.
Spurrier equated the prestige of playing in a BCS bowl game with finishing in the countrys top 10 or just outside of it.
Well go wherever were sent, he said.
The SECs cluster of second-tier teams including Missouri (No. 5 in the BCS), LSU (No. 17) and the Aggies (No. 21) makes picking South Carolinas destination tricky. The Gamecocks are ranked No. 10 in the BCS.
If the Gamecocks play in the SEC championship game and lose, the SEC would protect them from playing in a bowl other than the Capital One, Cotton, Outback or Chick-fil-A bowl. South Carolina played in the Outback Bowl last season, the Capital One Bowl the year before that and the Chick-fil-A Bowl the year before that.
Clemsons bowl chances might not be affected by the outcome of Saturdays game. The Tigers are ranked No. 4 in the most recent BCS standings, and have little competition for the ACCs No. 2 position behind Florida State.
If the Seminoles make the BCS national title game, the Orange Bowl would be left to choose between Clemson (which would be, at worst, 10-2) and Duke (9-2 currently), Georgia Tech (7-4) and Boston College (7-4).
South Carolina senior offensive lineman Ronald Patrick doesnt put much faith in projections, he said.
I know there is no guarantee, so I dont pay too much attention to it, Patrick said.