Previewing the Chick-fil-A Bowl: Three Keys, What It Means, and Prediction

This is it, folks. The last game of the year. The Chick-fil-A Bowl. The ride has been fun, but it's now about to be over. With that in mind, savor the last preview of the 2010 season.

Three Keys

3. Pass Defense

Our secondary played horribly against Auburn in the SEC Championship Game. I'm not expecting any overnight miracles from a unit that has struggled all year long, but I do think they can play better than they did against Auburn. They need to get it together fast, because FSU will present a stiff challenge.

2. Offsetting FSU's Pass Rush

Florida St. comes into this game sporting the nation's best sack numbers. I'm of the opinion that Carolina can control the outcome of this game as long as it protects Stephen Garcia, thereby not putting him into the kinds of positions in which he tends to make mistakes. That will be a tall order against a good FSU team, but we've done it before, and it can be done again. The first step? Establishing the running game. The second? Lots of quick throws. I say we revisit the Florida game plan.

1. Come Ready to Play

In past years, Carolina has wilted in its bowl games, oftentimes appearing unprepared, uninterested, or both. Last year's game against UConn, a team we by all accounts should have beaten, was a case in point. The temptation may be there to approach this game in a similar way. After losing the SEC Championship Game, Carolina may view this bowl as a cheap consolation prize. (The same may be true for the 'Noles, but that's another story--I'm worried about us.) If that happens, we're in trouble. Carolina needs to be aware of this game's significance and motivated to play the way it played against teams like UGA, 'Bama, and Florida.

Continue reading after the jump.

What It Means

This game presents an opportunity to (1) notch our second-ever ten-win season and (2) buck the idea that we can't get up for a bowl game. Those may not be as important as an SEC Championship, but they're nice goals. This is a big game.

Prediction

I'm expecting a close, relatively high-scoring Carolina victory. Gamecocks 33-28.

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