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South Carolina bowl projections: Is the Gator Bowl still within reach?

Three things we learned from the Gamecocks loss to Florida

Here are three things we learned from the South Carolina Gamecocks 35-31 loss to Florida on Saturday, November 10.
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Here are three things we learned from the South Carolina Gamecocks 35-31 loss to Florida on Saturday, November 10.

Looking forward, South Carolina’s loss to Florida changes South Carolina’s bowl calculus, to a degree.

Assuming quality matters (not always a safe bet), USC would safely rank behind Georgia, Kentucky (even after the Tennessee loss), Florida, Alabama, LSU in the SEC. The Gamecocks are ahead of Vandy, Tennessee, Ole Miss and Arkansas, the latter two out of the bowl picture.

Mississippi State will likely get to 8-4, barring an upset. Unless Texas A&M knocks off LSU or something shocking happens with Auburn, the Gamecocks will now be bunched with the Aggies and Missouri (again assuming no weird upsets), instead of with the Bulldogs.

That top group of five will likely fill a playoff spot, two or maybe three New Year’s Six Bowl spot and the Outback and Citrus Bowls. The TaxSlayer (Gator) Bowl has often, but not always, been next in line.

That puts USC firmly in the range of bowls like the Music City Bowl, Texas Bowl, Belk Bowl and Liberty Bowl. If the conference gets three teams in the New Year’s Six, there’s an decent shot USC could find its way to Jacksonville.

From those four or five, a few bowls have strikes against them.

South Carolina has already been to Nashville this year, making the Music City Bowl less likely.

The Texas Bowl hasn’t taken an SEC team from farther east then LSU.

The Belk Bowl would likely be better for ticket sales but wouldn’t generate the hotel room sales that bowl games like.

Both Liberty and TaxSlayer have fewer questions, but the SEC’s sorting process can often be opaque. Had USC won on Saturday, it likely would’ve knocked the Gators from NY6 contention and been in a great spot to return to Florida.

So USC could’ve perhaps had a slightly more choice bowl with a win.

South Carolina loss to Florida 35-31 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018, in Gainesville, FL.

SOUTH CAROLINA BOWL PROJECTIONS

ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura — Liberty Bowl (Memphis) vs. Oklahoma State, Dec. 31

ESPN’s Mitch Sherman — Gator Bowl (Jacksonville) vs. Purdue, Dec. 31

Sports Illustrated — Belk Bowl (Charlotte) vs. Duke, Dec. 29

CBS Sports — Liberty Bowl (Memphis) vs. Baylor, Dec. 31

SB Nation — Gator Bowl (Jacksonville) vs. Purdue, Dec. 31

247Sports — Gator Bowl (Jacksonville) vs. Penn State, Dec. 31

College Football News — Gator Bowl (Jacksonville) vs. Michigan State, Dec. 31

Sporting News — Independence Bowl (Shreveport) vs. Miami (Fla.), Dec. 27

Saturday Down South — Music City Bowl (Nashville) vs. Virginia, Dec. 28

Stadium — Music City Bowl (Nashville) vs. Virginia, Dec. 28

Bleacher Report — Belk Bowl (Charlotte) vs. Boston College, Dec. 29

The Athletic — Gator Bowl (Jacksonville) vs. Wisconsin, Dec. 31

USA Today — Belk Bowl (Charlotte) vs. Virginia, Dec. 29

Former South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier returns to Columbia for the 2018 spring game.

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