The University of South Carolina football team has accepted a bid to play in the 2016 Birmingham Bowl, it was announced today. The Gamecocks will face the South Florida Bulls at 2 pm ET on Thursday, December 29. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN.
“We’re excited to play in the Birmingham Bowl,” said South Carolina head coach Will Muschamp. “It’s another chance for the 2016 team to play together. It also gives us an opportunity to continue to improve our program in our first year. We look forward to playing in historic Legion Field, the site of the first two SEC Championship games, and in the state Alabama, which will be a homecoming for eight of our players.”
After winning four of its final six games, South Carolina heads into the contest with an overall record of 6-6, including a 3-5 mark in the Southeastern Conference. South Florida finished the regular season with a 10-2 mark, including a 7-1 league record, tied atop the American Athletic Conference. The Bulls, coached by Willie Taggart, are ranked 25th in the latest Associated Press poll, and come in at No. 22 in the Coaches’ poll.
This will mark just the second meeting between the two schools. South Carolina posted a 34-3 win in Columbia on September 18, 2004, in the only previous encounter with the Bulls.
The Gamecocks will be appearing in their 21st bowl game in school history. Carolina is 8-12 in bowl games, but has won each of its last four bowl appearances, topping Nebraska in the 2012 Capital One Bowl, Michigan in the 2013 Outback Bowl, Wisconsin in the 2014 Capital One Bowl, and Miami (Fla.) in the 2014 Independence Bowl. Marshall, with five-consecutive bowl wins, is the only school in the country that owns a longer current bowl winning streak than do the Gamecocks.
This will be South Carolina’s third bowl trip to Birmingham. The Gamecocks dropped a 24-14 decision to Missouri on December 28, 1979 in the Hall of Fame Bowl, then suffered a 20-7 setback to Connecticut on January 2, 2010, in what was then known as the Papajohns.com Bowl. The Gamecocks became bowl-eligible in Coach Muschamp’s first season in Columbia and have been bowl-eligible in 12 of the past 13 seasons. They elected not to participate in a bowl game following a 6-5 season in 2004, did not receive a bowl bid following a 6-6 campaign in 2007, and did not qualify for a bowl following a 3-9 season in 2015.
“We are excited to be back in a bowl game after missing out last year,” said Athletics Director Ray Tanner. “It’s a testament to Coach Muschamp, his staff and the players for getting us back into the postseason. I’m especially happy for the seniors, who stuck together through the coaching transition and showed tremendous leadership throughout the season.”
Coach Muschamp is 1-1 in bowl games as a head coach. While at Florida, he led the Gators to a 24-17 win over Ohio State in the 2012 TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl, then dropped a 33-23 decision to Louisville in the 2013 Sugar Bowl.