South Carolina Gamecocks
(9-4, 7-6 ATS)
Florida State Seminoles
(9-4, 7-6 ATS)
Once upon a time, Head Coach Steve Spurrier made a living out of beating the snot out of the Florida State Seminoles. He’ll try to do the exact same thing in the final game of 2010 in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl, except instead of leading the men in blue and orange, he’ll be leading the South Carolina Gamecocks on the field at the Georgia Dome.
The Gamecocks are familiar with the Georgia Dome, having just played here in the SEC Championship Game at the beginning of the month. No, things didn’t go all that well there, as SC was absolutely blown away by the Auburn Tigers, but there is still no shame in how this season has gone. The Gamecocks won the SEC East for the first time in school history, and they also beat those aforementioned Florida Gators in the Swamp for the first time ever. The trio of players to watch are QB Stephen Garcia, WR Alshon Jeffrey, and RB Marcus Lattimore. Jeffrey really made a name for himself against the Alabama Crimson Tide who, at the time that South Carolina beat them, were still undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country a year after winning the BCS National Championship. He ended the season with 79 receptions for 1,387 yards and nine TDs en route to really being one of the best receivers in the country. Garcia completed 65.1 percent of his passes for 2,816 yards and 20 TDs to cap a fantastic second season as a starter in Columbia. However, Lattimore is going to be the difference maker in this one. He rushed for 1,198 yards and 17 TDs this year, including rumbling for 212 yards on the Gators in the de facto SEC East Championship Game.
Florida State still has a major question as to whether or not QB Christian Ponder is going to be able to suit in this one. He has been battling an elbow injury that cost him the ACC Championship Game. If Ponder, who threw for 2,038 yards and 20 TDs this year, can’t give it a go, QB EJ Manuel is going to have to replace him. Manuel will be the starter next year for the Noles, and he threw for 777 yards and three TDs in relief this season. The rushing trio of RB Chris Thompson, RB Ty Jones, and RB Jermaine Thomas rumbled for 1,703 yards and 16 TDs this year, but the three have really been putting up iffy numbers over the course of the past few weeks. The defense for FSU is much improved from a year ago, but there are still some glaring difficulties that this squad is facing. Allowing 65 points to the two teams from North Carolina and 44 against the Virginia Tech Hokies really put a damper on a team that kept nine foes under 20 points this year.
The Seminoles have had a pretty good history in bowl games of late, but they are out of luck in this one. The Gamecocks are just more talented than the Noles are, and it’s going to show in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl on New Year’s Eve night. Kick off 2011 with a ‘W’ by taking South Carolina for your Chick-Fil-A Bowl picks.
Chick-Fil-A Bowl Free Pick: South Carolina Gamecocks -3