Can Tom Brady and Bill Belichick win their sixth Super Bowl championship together with the New England Patriots? Will the Patriots repeat as champions against the Philadelphia Eagles for a second time? Can the Eagles win their first Super Bowl title? How will Philadelphia quarterback Nick Foles in the biggest game of his career?
Those are the storylines fans will hear and read leading up to Super Bowl LII on Feb. 4 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. But for South Carolina football fans there’s another intriguing storyline between two former Gamecock teammates: Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore and Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery.
The two were teammates from 2009-11 at South Carolina under coach Steve Spurrier. Their time in Columbia was highlighted by a 29-yard pass from Gilmore to Jeffery in the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl and an 11-2 season in 2011. It was the first 11-win season in school history.
The duo left South Carolina early for the NFL in 2012. Gimore was selected No. 10 overall by Buffalo, while Jeffery went to Chicago in the second round. Both players changed teams before this season and made big-time plays to help their teams win during Sunday’s conference championship games.
Gilmore broke up Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles’ fourth-and-15 pass to Dede Westbrook with 1 minutes, 53 seconds left in the fourth quarter to clinch the Patriots’ 24-20 victory. Gilmore recorded five tackles and two pass defended as New England won its second straight AFC title.
Jeffery caught two touchdown passes from Foles in the Eagles’ 38-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings. Foles found Jeffery streaking down the right side of the field for a 53-yard score for Philadelphia with 1:09 left in the first half. Jeffery then hauled in a 5-yard pass over Minnesota cornerback Trae Waynes in the fourth quarter. Jeffery had five receptions for 85 yards to help Philadelphia advance to the Super Bowl for its third time in franchise history.
It’s the sixth consecutive year a former South Carolina player will play in the Super Bowl. Defensive back Darian Stewart is the last Gamecock to win the game, playing for the Denver Broncos in 2016.
How to watch Super Bowl LII
Date: Sunday, Feb. 4
Time: 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis