South Carolina’s bowl opponent is now set, so it’s worth knowing a little something about the South Florida Bulls.
1. Their coach is Willie Taggart, a Jim Harbaugh protégé, and he’s overseen one of the biggest turnarounds in the country the past two seasons. He seemed a sure bet for the unemployment line after going 7-21 through the first four games of his third season. He’s gone 17-4 since and made himself a candidate for a better job, notably Oregon.
2. Bulls quarterback Quinton Flowers is one of the best stars you’ve never heard of. The junior passer has thrown for 2,551 yards, 22 touchdowns and six interceptions, run for 1,425 yards and 15 scores and helms one of the top-10 scoring offenses in the country.
3. Beyond Flowers, tailback Marlon Mack has 1,137 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns and three of their top four wide receivers average 17.1 or more yards per catch.
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4. Taggart replaced former Gamecocks assistant Skip Holtz, who had an uneven tenure in Tampa. He went 8-5 with a bowl trip the season after Jim Leavitt’s ugly departure, but slipped to five and then three wins before being fired. Holtz resurfaced at Louisiana Tech and has won nine games twice.
5. South Florida is a relatively young football program, only starting play in 1997, moving from 1-AA (now FCS) to 1-A (now FBS) in 2000. Leavitt, Holtz and Taggart are the only coaches the program has had, and it has won four bowls in that stretch. South Carolina has played them once, winning 34-3 with Holtz on USC’s staff.