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No. 19 South Carolina vs. No. 21 Notre Dame: Gator Bowl roundtable predictions

Big season finale here.

South Carolina v Florida Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

The No. 19 South Carolina Gamecocks suit up for the final time in 2022 when they take on the 21st-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Gator Bowl. The last time these teams met, the Gamecocks were enjoying one of their best seasons in program history, and while the stakes aren’t quite that high this time around, this is nonetheless an important contest. Can Shane Beamer once again put a cap on a solid regular season with another electrifying bowl victory? Here’s how the GABA gang sees it playing out.

Kody: I think the line here – points-wise, I mean – is accurate, because on paper, these are two pretty similar teams that could be inconsistent, but turned in good seasons nonetheless. Both squads are more defense-oriented, and both boast excellent special teams units. However, given just how hot the Gamecocks finished the year (and yes, I’m aware ND won five of its last six), I’m inclined to give them the edge in a tossup. Shane Beamer will still need to prove to skeptics that Tennessee and Clemson weren’t back-to-back flukes, and while Notre Dame isn’t a top-10 team, it’s no slouch – especially with opening day starter Tyler Buchner back in the saddle at quarterback. Bowl season can and often does get weird, but I’m going with USC 27-21.

Sawyer: You can’t ignore what the Gamecocks have been able to do the past two games. Wins over Tennessee and Clemson make the Gamecocks the hottest team in the nation without a doubt. At the same time, it’s hard to ignore games like Mizzou and Florida. Yes, those were in the past, but this is still the same team. However, the Gamecocks are riding high and Coach Beamer has these boys rolling. With that being said, I love the Gamecocks in this one on Friday. This team will come prepared and ready to fight. Notre Dame is strong and physical with a powerful rushing attack, but this won’t be enough to outscore a hot Spencer Rattler and the Gamecock offense. Give me the Gamecocks in this one, 34-20.

Matt: I’m honestly pretty conflicted with this one. Say this game took place a week after the Clemson game when this team was hot and with the full roster at its disposal, I would have taken the Cocks in a heartbeat. Now, I’m not so sure. Yes, USC will still have Rattler and Wells going to work offensively, but that will be about it for that unit. Three out of the four tight ends on the 2022 roster are not suiting up along with Vann and Brooks, leaving only scraps from what was a dangerous offense down the stretch. To make things worse, Notre Dame is a team that loves to run the ball, and the Gamecocks are the team that surrendered 374 yards on the ground against Florida. That could be a mismatch that Notre Dame expects to exploit, and I hope South Carolina comes prepared with a plan to eliminate that. The Gamecocks are supposed to be the team on the hot streak, and I get that, but a month off tends to kill momentum like that. The day game curse is going to resume and the ranked victories streak is going to end. I’m sadly rolling with Notre Dame to take the Gator Bowl by the score of 20-13.

Brent: I am pretty excited to see this one. Carolina has not faced Notre Dame in football since the monumental win against the Irish in South Bend in 1984. It sounds like TIAA Field is going to be a home game for the Gamecocks. How much does Notre Dame want to be there? This has been a wild year for them. I am a big fan of Marcus Freeman but they have not been good so far under Freeman with long layoffs. Carolina will be without Zacch Pickens, Cam Smith, Darius Rush, Marshawn Lloyd, Josh Vann, Jaheim Bell, Austin Stogner, and Jalen Brooks among others that are either out with injuries or have opted out for the NFL or the transfer portal. I am excited to see some of these younger guys play. Will Landon Samson get some snaps? What about Luke Doty? Notre Dame is a big, physical bunch on both sides of the ball. However, as long as Spencer Rattler and Juice Wells are on the field, it is hard to bet against the Gamecocks based on how those last two games of the regular season went. I am taking the Gamecocks 29-26 against the Irish to get to their 9th win of the season.

Katie: As usual, I’m closing out the roundtable predictions by calling for a win. While it’s unfortch that the Gamecocks will be without some key players from the regular season for this game, I still believe they’ll have enough to get the job done. Plus, I’m riding with the NO THOUGHTS, JUST VIBES strategy again, because it’s worked well for me multiple times already this season, so why not. Also I really, really, really do not like Notre Dame and always want to see them lose, so it would be a personal favor to me if the Gamecocks could beat them. Please and thanks, fellas.