Dec. 31, 2008
The South Carolina Gamecocks (7-5, 4-4 SEC) out of the Southeastern Conference face the Iowa Hawkeyes (8-4, 5-3 Big Ten) out of the Big Ten Conference in the 23rd edition of the Outback Bowl on Thursday, January 1, 2009. Game time is set for 11 a.m. ET at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
The 2009 Outback Bowl will be televised nationally on ESPN with Sean McDonough providing the play-by-play, Chris Spielman handling the color commentary and Rob Stone patrolling the sidelines. Dave Pasch, Andre Ware and Joe Schad will provide the national radio broadcast. Todd Ellis and Tommy Suggs handle the radio call for the Gamecock Sports Network with Duce Staley working the sidelines.
A LITTLE HISTORY
This is the 115th season of intercollegiate football at the University of South Carolina, dating back to 1892. It is the 102nd-consecutive year in which South Carolina has competed on the gridiron. The University did not field a team in either 1893 or 1906. Carolina owns an all-time record of 528-528-44. The school's only conference championship came in the 1969 season when it posted a perfect 6-0 record to win the Atlantic Coast Conference title under head coach Paul Dietzel.
The 2009 Outback Bowl will mark Carolina's 14th bowl appearance overall. The Gamecocks are 4-9 all-time in bowl games. They dropped their first eight bowl games, won three straight and now have split their last two bowl contests.
ON THE NATIONAL STAGE
The Outback Bowl game represents the eighth time in 13 games this season that football fans across the country can watch the Gamecocks live, including six appearances on either ESPN or ESPN2. Five of Carolina's eight SEC games in 2008 were nationally televised. CBS televised two games nationally.
BEEN HERE BEFORE
The Gamecocks are 2-0 when playing in the Outback Bowl. They defeated Big Ten representative Ohio State in back-to-back Outback Bowls in 2001 and 2002. The Gamecocks posted a 24-7 win over the Buckeyes in 2001 behind the MVP performance of running back Ryan Brewer. Brewer, a Troy, Ohio native, rushed 19 times for 109 yards and caught three passes for another 92 yards and scored all three of Carolina's touchdowns. In 2002, the Gamecocks opened up a 28-0 lead over Ohio State midway through the third quarter, then watched as the Buckeyes rallied to tie the score before Daniel Weaver booted a 42-yard field goal on the game's final play in a 31-28 win. Quarterback Phil Petty was named the game's MVP after completing 19-of-37 passes for 227 yards and two TDs.
GAMECOCKS AND HAWKS
This is the first meeting ever on the gridiron between these two flagship state institutions.
`COCKS VS. THE BIG TEN
The Gamecocks are 3-5 against teams that currently comprise the Big Ten Conference and also own a win over Chicago back in 1928 when it was a member of the league. However, two of Carolina's five losses came to Penn State in the early 1940s before the Nittany Lions became members of the Big Ten. In addition to its two Outback Bowl wins over Ohio State, Carolina is 1-1 versus Michigan and 0-1 against both Northwestern and Indiana. The Indiana loss came in the 1988 Liberty Bowl.
THE HBC VS. THE BIG TEN
Steve Spurrier is 4-1 in his career against Big Ten schools. He was a perfect 3-0 when he was the head coach at Duke and faced Northwestern each year from 1987-89, winning by scores of 31-16, 31-21 and 41-31. He was a 21-6 winner over Penn State while at Florida in the 1998 Citrus Bowl, then dropped a 37-34 decision to Michigan State in the 2000 Citrus Bowl.
SPURRIER IN THE BOWLS
Steve Spurrier sports a 7-7 record in his 14 bowl games as a head coach. He is 1-1 in bowl games while coaching at South Carolina, dropping a 38-31 decision to Missouri in the 2005 Independence Bowl before getting past Houston, 44-36, in the 2006 AXA Liberty Bowl. His teams have been held under 21 points just once in the previous 14 bowl appearances, a 23-17 loss to Florida State in the 1995 Sugar Bowl. This is his first trip to the Outback Bowl.
RAISING THE BAR
Head coach Steve Spurrier is 28-21 in his four seasons in Columbia. He tied the school record for wins (7) in his first season at the helm; tied for the most wins (15) in his first two seasons of any Carolina head coach; recorded the most wins (21) by a Carolina head coach in his first three seasons; and has surpassed Warren Giese (25 wins from 1956-59) for the most wins by a coach in his first four seasons on the Carolina sidelines. He has logged a .500 or better record in four straight seasons, the first coach to do that at Carolina since the final four years of the Jim Carlen Era (1978-81).
The win over Arkansas was No. 28 for Steve Spurrier as the Carolina head coach, tying him with Warren Giese for seventh place on the Gamecocks' all-time list. Giese won 28 games from 1956-60, going 28-21-1 during that stretch (7-3, 5-5, 7-3, 6-4, 3-6-1). Lou Holtz is next on the list with 33 career wins from 1999-2004.
NUMBER 200 IN THE SEC
The bowl game against Iowa will mark Steve Spurrier's 200th game as an SEC head coach. He has posted a 150-48-1 record through his first 199 games combined as the head coach at Florida and at South Carolina, a .756 winning percentage. After just four seasons in the ultra-competitive Southeastern Conference, Coach Spurrier is the fourth-longest tenured coach at his current school behind only Georgia's Mark Richt, Vanderbilt's Bobby Johnson and Kentucky's Rich Brooks. Florida's Urban Meyer and LSU's Les Miles have also been at their current schools for four seasons, but Coach Spurrier was hired just ahead of them.
ABOUT THE GAMECOCKS
South Carolina dropped its final two games of the regular season to finish with a 7-5 record overall. They were 4-4 in the Southeastern Conference. Only four SEC teams - Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Ole Miss - finished the regular season with a better mark than Carolina. The Gamecocks were 5-2 at Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia and logged a 2-3 mark on the road. Three of their five losses were seven-point setbacks - to Vanderbilt, Georgia and LSU. The Gamecocks rank 92nd in the country in scoring offense (21.7 points per game) and are 28th in the nation in scoring defense (20.2).
AND FOR THE HAWKEYES
Iowa won its final three games and five of its last six to finish with an 8-4 record, including a 5-3 mark in the Big Ten. They were 6-1 when playing in the friendly confines of Nile Kinnick Stadium and posted a 2-3 mark on the road. The Hawkeyes' four losses came by a total of 12 points. They rank 35th in the nation in scoring offense (30.3 points per game) and are eighth in the country in scoring defense, allowing just 13.2 points per game. Iowa has played in the Outback Bowl twice previously, defeating Florida, 37-17, in 2004 before falling to the Gators, 31-24, in 2005.
THE SEC IN THE OUTBACK
Teams from the Southeastern Conference hold a 10-8 record when playing in the Outback Bowl. Eight of the 12 SEC teams have participated in this game with Georgia (3-1) appearing a league-high four times. Tennessee (2-1), Florida (1-2), South Carolina (2-0), Alabama (1-1), Auburn (1-1), Kentucky (0-1) and LSU (0-1) have also represented the SEC.
AND FOR THE BIG TEN
Teams from the Big Ten Conference are 8-11 when competing in the Outback Bowl, including a 1-1 mark for the Iowa Hawkeyes. Michigan (3-1), Ohio State (0-4) and Wisconsin (1-3) have played in the Outback Bowl four times each. Penn State is a perfect 3-0, while Illinois (0-1) and Purdue (0-1) have also appeared in the game. At 3-0, Penn State holds the best record of any school in the Outback Bowl, a record that can be matched by the Gamecocks this year.
REACHING 100 & BEYOND
Steve Spurrier is one of just four coaches to record 100 or more wins as an SEC coach against SEC competition (he also has three wins against SEC teams while coaching at Duke). Only Bear Bryant (159), John Vaught (106) and Vince Dooley (105) have won more regular-season SEC conference games than Coach Spurrier's 102. "Shug" Jordan and Phillip Fulmer fell just short with 98 wins each.
EIGHT IS ENOUGH
The Gamecocks enter the bowl game with a 7-5 record. A win over Iowa would give the Gamecocks eight victories for just the 10th time in school history.
Following the regular season, the Gamecock coaching staff underwent a couple of changes. John Hunt was relieved of his duties effective immediately. Coach Hunt had been on the Gamecocks' staff for the past four seasons coaching the offensive line. Hunt had worked for Coach Spurrier since 1999, first at the University of Florida, then with the Washington Redskins, before joining the Gamecock staff in 2005. Graduate assistant Cedric Williams will coach the Gamecocks' offensive line on an interim basis. David Reaves, who had been at Carolina for the past seven years, resigned to join his brother-in-law, Lane Kiffin, on the staff at Tennessee. Reaves had been a full-time member of the South Carolina coaching staff for the past five years after two seasons as a GA. He was given the duties of recruiting coordinator in February of 2006 and added the full-time quarterback coaching duties in the spring of 2007. Shane Beamer has been given the additional duties of recruiting coordinator.
Junior linebacker Eric Norwood was selected as a first-team all-conference performer by both the Associated Press and by the SEC's 12 coaches. He was joined on the coaches' first-team by junior tight end Jared Cook. Cook was a second-team selection by the AP. Junior strong safety Emanuel Cook was a second-team selection by both the writers and the coaches. He was joined on the coaches' second-team squad by senior linebacker Jasper Brinkley. Senior wide receiver Kenny McKinley and senior placekicker Ryan Succop both earned honorable mention accolades by the AP.
Eight of South Carolina's 11 FBS opponents will participate in the bowl games this season. The Gamecocks defeated North Carolina State, Ole Miss and Kentucky who are bowl-worthy. All five of Carolina's losses came to teams that will be playing in the postseason (Vanderbilt, Georgia, LSU, Florida and Clemson). In addition, the Gamecocks posted a win over Wofford, who participated in the FCS playoffs.
OUT OF THEIR LEAGUE
The Gamecocks are 3-1 in non-conference action this season. They defeated NC State, Wofford and UAB before losing the season finale at Clemson. They are 13-4 in non-conference games under Coach Spurrier, including wins in 11 of their last 13 non-conference games.
The Gamecocks have played just two overtime games in their history, both at Tennessee. They dropped a 23-20 decision in Knoxville on Sept. 27, 2003, then fell by a 27-24 score on Oct. 27, 2007, at Neyland Stadium. Every other SEC team has played at least four overtime games since the rule was established in 1996.
WINNING MORE OFTEN
This is the fifth consecutive year in which Carolina has posted at least a .500 mark. The Gamecocks went 6-5 in 2004, 7-5 in 2005, 8-5 in 2006 and 6-6 in 2007. The last time they went five or more consecutive seasons with a .500 record or better was from 1928-34.
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