Both the Gamecocks and Cavaliers went 7-5 this season, but the perspectives were far different from each other. UVA came awfully close to representing the ACC Coastal in the conference’s championship game. But it all wound up falling out of reach after falling to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and rival Virginia Tech Hokies in their final two games of the season. It also didn’t help matters that they lost to the Pitt Panthers, the eventual division champs, either. Still, Bryce Perkins and the Cavaliers will be out to end the season on a high note after such a strong start.
South Carolina, meanwhile, got to 7-5 after parachuting up and down over the course of the season. They alternated wins and losses through their first seven games of the year. They propped themselves up to 5-3 after two straight wins over the Tennessee Volunteers and Ole Miss Rebels, but lost two of three to the Florida Gators and rival Clemson Tigers. They picked up their seventh win against the Akron Zips in December, and now will hope to boost the total up to eight, as well.
What will hurt the Gamecocks in this game is the lack of Deebo Samuel. Samuel wrapped up his career with the Gamecocks in that aforementioned game against the Zips and opted to skip the bowl game. You don’t need us to tell you how dynamic Deebo is as a player and his absence will almost certainly be felt. Expect quarterback Jake Bentley to try and deliver the ball to Bryan Edwards and Shi Smith with Samuel’s absence in mind, and perhaps to his tailbacks too.
Perkins and the Cavalier offense is going to look to strike on a South Carolina defense that had its fair share of issues this season. The Gamecocks let up 230.8 passing yards per game, which is closer to average than it is terrible, mind you. But it was one of the worser marks in the SEC. They were also cut up and then some on the ground, having allowed 199.1 rushing yards per game. Perkins and Jordan Ellis, the team’s leading rushers, have to love the thought of trying to rumble all over the Gamecock defense on Saturday morning if SC doesn’t make the proper adjustments.
This should, all told, be a pretty competitive game. I’m not sure where it’s gonna go, but it’s definitely a nice appetizer for the action at hand on Saturday.
HOW TO WATCH
Time: Noon ET/11 a.m. CT
TV: ABC (Check your local listings)
Watch Online: WatchESPN