South Carolina will learn its bowl fate on Sunday afternoon, and there’s at least a chance the destination won’t be that far away.
ESPN’s Mark Schlabach on Friday morning reported an interest in the Gamecocks from the Belk Bowl, played in Charlotte, N.C.
The Belk Bowl is played Dec. 29 at Bank of America Stadium and pits the SEC vs. ACC. USC has never played in the game, formerly known as the Continental Tire Bowl and the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
The Gamecocks open the 2017 season at Bank of America Stadium on Sept. 2 against N.C. State. USC last played there against North Carolina to kick off the 2015 season.
ESPN on Sunday will have its “College Football Playoff: Top 25 Selection Show” from noon to 4 p.m., with the announcement of the two playoff semifinals coming at 12:30 p.m. The teams in the other four New Year’s Six bowls will be announced close to 2:30 p.m., and selections for the remaining bowls are expected to trickle out after that.
Projections from FoxSports, Sports Illustrated and ESPN’s Bret McMurphy all have the Gamecocks bound for the Birmingham Bowl on Dec. 29, where they’d face South Florida (10-2) from the American Athletic Conference.
Schlabach, in a prediction made earlier this week, placed USC in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis on Dec. 30 against TCU. College Football News projected South Carolina in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., against Wake Forest on Dec. 26.
The SEC has 12 teams that will be going to a bowl game. Alabama (12-0), Florida (8-3), Auburn (8-4), Tennessee (8-4), Texas A&M (8-4), LSU (7-4), Georgia (7-5), Kentucky (7-5), Arkansas (7-5), South Carolina (6-6) and Vanderbilt (6-6) all reached the requisite six-win plateau. Mississippi State (5-7) will be one of at least two five-win teams that make it this year because there aren’t enough six-win teams to fill all the slots. (The Bulldogs’ high APR guarantees they’ll be one of the five-win teams to earn a berth.)
South Carolina feels pretty well slotted in the SEC, below the teams with seven or more wins and above Vanderbilt (which it beat in the season opener) and five-win Mississippi State. That should mean USC to Birmingham, the Commodores to Shreveport, La., for the Independence Bowl on Dec. 26, and the Bulldogs to an unaffiliated bowl (the Armed Forces Bowl, according to some projections).
USC has played in Birmingham before, falling 20-7 to Connecticut on Jan. 2, 2010, in what was then known as the PapaJohns.com Bowl.