As Saturday closed, it appeared that South Carolina’s football team was headed toward a date with the Belk Bowl in Charlotte, but the situation remained fluid.
“People have been asking me all day,” Gamecocks athletics director Ray Tanner told The State on Saturday evening after the Gamecocks beat Akron 28-3 to improve to 7-5. “They say, ‘I know you know.’ I really don’t know.”
All signs were pointing to Charlotte, though. South Carolina has been in contact with the Gator Bowl, and Gator Bowl officials have interest, but it’s unlikely the SEC will allow South Carolina to jump Texas A&M in the bowl pecking order unless the Aggies say they would rather go to a bowl game other than the Gator Bowl.
“We provide input. The bowls provide input. And then the conference office tells you where you are going,” Tanner said. “They try to satisfy as many requests as possible, but there are a lot of moving parts.”
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The No. 19 Aggies are 8-4 compared with South Carolina’s 7-5 and beat the Gamecocks 26-23 in Williams-Brice Stadium earlier this season. Mississippi State, which is 8-4 and ranked No. 18 with a win over Texas A&M this season, also could affect South Carolina’s destination if the Bulldogs ask to go somewhere other than the Outback Bowl, thereby opening up the Outback Bowl for Texas A&M and clearing the way for South Carolina to go to the Gator Bowl.
“It’ll shake out [Sunday] morning,” Tanner said, “and they will let us know where we’re going.”
The Belk Bowl is played at noon Dec. 29 in Bank of America Stadium and would match South Carolina with an ACC team, possibly Virginia. The Gator Bowl is 7:30 p.m. Dec. 31 and features an SEC team likely against a Big Ten opponent.
South Carolina will hold a press conference Sunday at 5:30 p.m. to discuss its bowl destination.
SOUTH CAROLINA BOWL PROJECTIONS — DEC. 1
▪ Sports Illustrated — Belk Bowl (Charlotte) vs. Duke, Dec. 29
▪ SB Nation — Belk Bowl (Charlotte) vs. Virginia, Dec. 29
▪ NCAA.com — Belk Bowl (Charlotte) vs. Boston College, Dec. 29