With the College Football Playoff set to be firmed up tomorrow afternoon, the Gamecocks are poised to learn who their bowl opponent is shortly after. Based on the latest projections, the thinking is that it could be either one of four teams: N.C. State, TCU, Tulsa or South Florida. Today I (attempt) to rank them from most desirable to least desirable, fulling expecting that tomorrow the bowl committee will pair Carolina with an entirely different team than the ones I listed below.
This is the same N.C. State team that came oh-so-close to beating Clemson a few weeks ago. I think I’d have to agree with fans that don’t want the Gamecocks ending the season against a team that they’ll open with in Charlotte next year, but it is what it is, I suppose. Fun fact: the Wolfpack lost 33-30 to East Carolina, the same ECU team that the Gamecocks put 20 on earlier in the season in a win. They did beat Notre Dame 13-10, which, if we’re honest, came when the Irish’s season was essentially in the toilet anyway. Hopefully they enjoyed it, because they’re probably going to get lit up in South Bend for the return game next year.
Prognosis: Sure, why not?
I’m kind of indifferent about this potential matchup. On one hand, TCU plays in the Big 12, where just about every team is allergic to defense. On the other hand, considering that it is Kenny Hill on the other sideline, I think that Gamecocks fans would rather be rid of him once and for all. The Horned Frogs are usually in the Top 25 discussion, but an inconsistent season has seen them go from scoring at will some weeks to head scratching losses in others (how did the Texas Tech game only end 27-24?). I’m not confident that they’d be able to stop Hill, though.
Prognosis: Not the preferred team, but it could be a lot worse
If the prospect of facing Tulsa in a bowl game doesn’t scare you, it should. The Golden Hurricane lost to Navy by just two, which came back to bite them in the end as the Mids won out to punch their ticket to the American Athletic championship game against Temple. Yeah, Tulsa’s pretty good. They do tend to give up a lot of points, which might leave the door open a crack for South Carolina, but their offense is just too good for the Gamecocks to overcome in the end.
Prognosis: Yeah, I think I’ll pass
I absolutely hate this matchup for the Gamecocks. This is a USF team that hung 35 on Florida State - granted, the Noles don’t have an Alabama-esque defense, but they’re no slouch either - and is led by an up-and-comer in Willie Taggart that might find himself at a Power 5 school before long. We know that Carolina had difficulty keeping Western Carolina off the scoreboard a few weeks ago. How will they do against the Bulls, who feature one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in the country (with all due respect to that Lamar Jackson guy) in junior Quinton Flowers? Flowers has thrown for over 2,500 yards and 22 touchdowns, has rushed for 1,425 yards and 15 scores, and wouldn’t surprise anyone if he decides to declare for the draft after the Bulls’ bowl game. I should probably mention that USF has a second 1,000+ yard rusher in Marlon Mack (1137 yards, 15 TD), shouldn’t I?
Prognosis: This could get ugly