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Bowl picture coming into focus for South Carolina

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The Sunshine State once again seems like a likely destination.

Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

With the regular season (mostly) finished and the conference championship games set for this weekend, realistic talk of bowl spots can begin in earnest. Currently sitting at 6-5, the South Carolina Gamecocks already have their ticket to the postseason in hand — they just aren’t quite sure where.

Enter the Gator Bowl, based in Jacksonville, Fla., which seems to be a frontunner among the bowl’s brass and Gamecock fans. South Carolina’s previous appearance in the event was in 1987, when the Gamecocks lost to LSU 30-13. The state of Florida has been a willing host to the Gamecocks in bowl season, with South Carolina frequently landing in either the Citrus Bowl or Outback Bowl over the past several years.

According to 247Sports, Texas A&M is also competing for that spot in the Gator Bowl, which pits the SEC against the ACC or Big Ten.

The Charlotte-based Belk Bowl is considered another strong possibility, given the large contingent of Gamecock fans in and around the city. South Carolina is already playing in next season’s Belk Kickoff event against North Carolina, though, so I’m not sure how likely a back-to-back Belk appearance is.

Other bowl projections:

  • SB Nation: Gator Bowl vs. Michigan State
  • CBS Sports: Liberty Bowl vs. Baylor
  • 247Sports: Gator Bowl vs. Miami
  • Sporting News: Gator Bowl vs. Miami
  • USA Today: Belk Bowl vs. Virginia
  • Sports Illustrated: Music City Bowl vs. Boston College
  • Yahoo Sports: Belk Bowl vs. Georgia Tech
  • ESPN’s Mitch Sherman: Belk Bowl vs. Pitt
  • ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura: Liberty Bowl vs. Baylor

Some of these projected opponents are pretty interesting. There’s the obvious alumnus storyline with Mark Dantonio in a Michigan State matchup, for example, and the idea of Georgia Tech’s triple option against an already-banged up defense is terrifying. I’m also meh on playing Miami, since it feels like it just happened even though it was four years and a coaching change ago. Which bowl destination and/or opponent would y’all prefer?