Josh Kendall

USC has last chance to prove doubters wrong

South Carolina’s a double-digit underdog to an American Athletic Conference team heading into Thursday’s Birmingham Bowl. That may or may not matter.

Depends on who you ask.

“No, not at all,” said Gamecocks safety D.J. Smith. “It’s like social media. It’s all outside stuff. We know what we can do. At the end of the day, it’s about us. We are not thinking about them like that. We are worried about what we’re going to do.”

“Oh yeah,” said Gamecocks linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams. “A lot of people are saying we are underdogs or whatever, and you don’t want to look too much into those things, but we hear them.”

South Florida (10-2) and its high-powered offense are 10-point favorites against South Carolina (6-6).

“We just want to go out and end the season the right way,” Allen-Williams said. “We had a lot of ups and downs on defense and just to go out and finish it the right way is very important to us.”

After an embarrassing 56-7 loss to Clemson to end the regular season, if the Gamecocks don’t beat the Bulls, they at least need to compete to give themselves a little momentum heading into the offseason. To do that, they will have to slow down Bulls quarterback Quinton Flowers, who’s South Florida’s leading passer and rusher.

Stopping Flowers is probably beyond the power of a South Carolina defense that’s 88th in the nation against the run, but slowing him to allow the offense to keep pace is possible.

The Gamecocks offensive players know they’ll have to score to win (South Florida hasn’t been held below 30 points this year), and they’re capable of doing that against a defense ranked 120th in the country.

“We’ve been underdogs a lot,” safety Chris Moody said. “They said we were going to be last in the SEC and not even play in a bowl game, so …”

The Gamecocks have one last chance in 2016 to prove their doubters wrong.