South Carolina’s freshman quarterback was sensational. After a first quarter in which he threw an interception and threw for only 23 yards, Bentley finished with a career-high 390 passing yards and three touchdowns.
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In the kind of game that will get him on a lot of preseason watch lists, Samuel set career bests and Birmingham Bowl records in catches (14) and receiving yards (190). He also added a rushing touchdown.
The junior linebacker made a diving, juggling interception early in the fourth quarter that turned the momentum of the game and helped South Carolina score the final 15 points of regulation.
Despite the previous trip to Birmingham being nothing to write home about, South Carolina fans showed up by the thousands and stayed until the end. Still, the stadium was less than half full, a pretty familiar sight at early bowl games.
South Carolina secondary
The Bulls’ two most important touchdowns, late in the first half and in overtime, came when receivers snuck behind the USC defense while USF QB Quinton Flowers scrambled.
Gamecocks’ ball security
South Carolina turned the ball over five times. Bentley threw two interceptions and fumbled, and freshman RBs Rico Dowdle and A.J. Turner both fumbled at the USF 1-yard line.
USC defensive line
South Carolina didn’t sack Flowers once and had only four tackles-for-loss.
The Gamecocks had a great offensive day, but it would have been much better if they weren’t 4 of 13 on third down.