South Carolina has clinched a bowl bid. Here's where latest projections say Gamecocks will play

·2 min read

COLUMBIA – Not many, in fact almost no, national college football pundits had South Carolina in their initial 2021 season bowl game projections.

What a long way Shane Beamer and the Gamecocks (6-5) have not only taken themselves in the coach’s first year, but those same experts, who now have to include them in their weekly predictions.

USC clinched its six-win season and reached bowl eligibility for the first time since 2018 with the 21-17 victory over Auburn at Williams-Brice Stadium last Saturday night.

'Projections were false': South Carolina proves doubters wrong with bowl-clinching win

South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer greets fans on Nov. 20 at Williams-Brice Stadium.
South Carolina head coach Shane Beamer greets fans on Nov. 20 at Williams-Brice Stadium.

The Southeastern Conference has nine bowl game tie-ins, and South Carolina became the 11th team from the SEC to guarantee a bowl bid, joining No. 1 Georgia, No. 2 Alabama, No. 12 Ole Miss, No. 16 Texas A&M, No. 21 Arkansas, No. 25 Mississippi State, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri and Auburn.

With the Gamecocks officially inserting themselves into the postseason picture, where do the analysts now believe they’ll play their bowl game this December?

According to the prognosticators, three bowl games have emerged at the prime choice for South Carolina: Duke’s Mayo Bowl in Charlotte (Dec. 30), the Liberty Bowl in Memphis (Dec. 28) and the Birmingham Bowl in Birmingham, Alabama (Dec. 28).

North Carolina, from the ACC, appears the favorite for USC to meet in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl, setting up a hyper-regional matchup. Virginia is another ACC team that South Carolina is predicted to play in that game.

Then known as the Belk Bowl, South Carolina’s last bowl appearance was in Charlotte in 2018 when it lost to Virginia, 28-0.

The Liberty Bowl projections for the Gamecocks suggest a variety of opponents from the Big 12, the conference with the other tie-in. Pundits project either Iowa State, Kansas State or Texas Tech could be potential matchups for USC.

South Carolina has played in two Liberty Bowls in its history, most recently a 44-36 win over Houston in 2006. In 1988, the Gamecocks lost in the Liberty Bowl to Indiana, 34-10.

Before South Carolina secured a bowl berth, when analysts thought Beamer’s team would get in, the Birmingham Bowl was a popular prediction. Now that the Gamecocks are in, some still think they’ll go bowling in Birmingham.

The Gamecocks have played in two Birmingham Bowls and lost both, most recently to South Florida, 46-39, in 2016 and to UConn, 20-7, in 2010.

Anybody from Louisville, Western Michigan or Houston could be South Carolina’s opponent, according to the forecasts.

Another national projection sees the Gamecocks playing in the Military Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas (Dec. 27) against Wyoming.

South Carolina will officially find out its bowl game destination Dec. 5 following conference championship games the day before. USC closes out the 2021 regular season at home against rival Clemson Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network).

Cory Diaz covers the South Carolina Gamecocks for The Greenville News as part of the USA TODAY Network. Follow his work for all things Gamecocks on Twitter: @CoryDiaz_TGN

This article originally appeared on Greenville News: Bowl predictions: Where analysts say South Carolina plays in December

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