COLUMBIA — For a brief moment, South Carolina football looked all but guaranteed a bid to the Citrus Bowl after upsetting then-No. 5 Tennessee and then-No. 8 Clemson in back-to-back weeks. Then, LSU lost to Texas A&M.
The Tigers were high in contention for a New Year’s Six bowl before falling to the Aggies. A third loss on their record likely bumps them out of that top tier and into the crosshairs of the Citrus Bowl, which gets first pick of SEC teams remaining after the New Year’s Six are assigned. It is played Jan. 2 in Orlando, Florida.
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For the No. 19 Gamecocks (8-4), that means they will almost certainly head to one of two other destinations in the Sunshine State: the Gator Bowl or the ReliaQuest Bowl. Action Network, CBS, Pro Football Network and Saturday Down South all project South Carolina to the ReliaQuest on Jan. 2 in Tampa, Florida. The Gamecocks are projected to face either Illinois (8-4) or Minnesota (8-4) out of the Big Ten.
The other frontrunner, the Gator Bowl, is played Dec. 30 in Jacksonville, Florida, and is being projected by Athlon Sports, College Football News and both ESPN analysts. There, the opponent seems guaranteed to be Notre Dame (8-4), which delivered Clemson its only other loss of the season. The Music City Bowl, played Dec. 31 in Nashville, also remains in contention with Iowa (7-5) as the probable opponent.
South Carolina, bowl eligible for the second consecutive season, beat North Carolina in the 2021 Duke’s Mayo Bowl in coach Shane Beamer’s first season.
Action Network: ReliaQuest Bowl vs. Illinois
Athlon Sports: Gator Bowl vs. Notre Dame
CBS: ReliaQuest Bowl vs. Illinois
College Football News: Gator Bowl vs. Notre Dame
ESPN (Kyle Bonagura): Gator Bowl vs. Notre Dame
ESPN (Mark Schlabach): Gator Bowl vs. Notre Dame
Pro Football Network: ReliaQuest Bowl vs. Minnesota
Saturday Down South: ReliaQuest Bowl vs. Illinois
Sports Illustrated: Music City Bowl vs. Iowa
Sporting News: Music City Bowl vs. Iowa
USA TODAY: Music City Bowl vs. Iowa