While the Gamecocks were getting pummeled by Clemson, the Vanderbilt Commodores were facing a Tennessee team that was, by all accounts, probably supposed to win. Didn’t happen. Instead, the ‘Dores turned the tables in an upset, got to bowl eligibility for the first time since 2013, and basically sealed the Gamecocks’ destination in a few weeks. Interestingly enough, getting embarrassed on the road by your rival doesn’t really endear you to the bowl selection committee.
As a result, it’s looking a lot like South Carolina is headed to the Bayou. Both Brett McMurphy and Mark Schlabach at ESPN, along with Jerry Palm at CBS Sports, College Football News, Brad Crawford at 247Sports, and Bryan Fischer at College Football Talk/NBC Sports all have the Gamecocks in the Camping World Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana. As far as an opponent, McMurphy projects Boston College, Schlabach, Palm, and CFT project N.C. State, while CFN and Crawford at 247 think it’s Wake Forest.
Two of the sites of note that deviated from the Independence Bowl projection were SB Nation and SEC Country. The mothership puts the Gamecocks in Memphis’ Liberty Bowl against the Big 12’s TCU, while SEC Country believes that it’s the Birmingham Bowl versus Tulsa of the American Athletic Conference. To be honest, I’d be very surprised if it were one of those, but if I were to choose between the two, I’d think the Birmingham Bowl would be much more likely. However, due to their performance in Clemson and by virtue of Vandy’s victory over Tennessee, the Commodores would probably appear to the committees as a more appealing matchup at this stage.
Ironically, the last time the Gamecocks were in a bowl - 2014 - was in the Independence Bowl, a 24-21 win over Al Golden’s Miami (Fla.) team. While nothing will be made official until after the College Football Playoff committee releases their final rankings on Sunday, I’d have to think that all signs point back to Shreveport right now.