Birmingham Bowl Prediction, South Carolina vs. South Florida Game Preview, History, Scores
Three reasons why you should watch the Birmingham Bowl between South Carolina vs. South Florida, why each team might win, honest thoughts, line and prediction.
Date: Thursday, December 29th
Game Time: 2:00 pm
Venue: Legion Field, Birmingham, AL
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Scroll down for the video preview and bowl history
The Bowl Matchup Ranking Of Awesomeness (1 best-40 worst): 22 out of 40
Three Reasons Why You Should Watch The Birmingham Bowl
– Enjoy the T.J. Weist era at South Florida while it lasts. There’s a reason why Willie Taggart was considered good enough for the Oregon job – his team went 10-2 this season. Only a few other schools hit the ten-win mark in a tough year overall for top college football teams, and now USF is in a holding pattern waiting for Charlie Strong to take over. In the meantime, this could become an amazing 11-win season with a Birmingham Bowl victory. And why is this a really big deal? No pressure, Charlie. Just win 11 or more next year, too.
– Okay, Will Muschamp. You got your team to a bowl. Now win it. It was a nice turnaround season for South Carolina after Steve Spurrier bailed, but Muschamp now has to meet the expectations set by the Ball Coach when it came to the post season. It got rough for a little while for the Gamecocks – losing four of five games from 2005 to 2010 – and it all kicked in winning four straight against some big boys – Nebraska, Michigan, Wisconsin and Miami. This is a cherry on top for Muschamp, but winning this would be really, really nice.
– South Florida is fun. This is as entertaining a team as there is in college football, at least if you like high-powered running games. Even in the losses to Florida State and Temple, the Bulls cranked up 30 points or more for an O that never dipped below the mark. There’s a built-in excuse to struggle considering the coaching change, but the machine is still in place. If you haven’t seen USF yet, enjoy. So …
Here’s Why South Carolina Will Win The Birmingham Bowl
– Can the South Carolina run D hang in there? Sort of. It’s given up close to five yards per carry, and it’ll give up plenty of yards at times, but even when the front seven gets gouged, overall, it hasn’t been that bad – except for the loss to Clemson. There’s just enough speed on the outside to handle USF QB Quinton Flowers when he tries to take off, and now, with a month to prepare, the Muschamp D should be able to keep him contained. At least that’s the hope.
– USC’s O will put the O in slooooooow. This isn’t much of a ball control attack, considering it just doesn’t move the chains, but against USF, it has the potential to hang on to the ball for long stretches. The Gamecocks are great at winning the turnover battle, and they don’t make a whole slew of big mistakes. USF only keeps the ball for just under 27 minutes a game – mainly because it hits lots of home runs. USC should keep those to a manumit.
– Okay, Jake Bentley. Let’s see whatcha got. Everything going along so well for the South Carolina freshman quarterback. The offense perked up a bit, and team was winning, and then came the Florida and the Clemson defenses, and bad things happened. USC was outscored 76-14 in those two games. As good as USF has been this year, it’s been beyond abysmal against anyone and everyone who can throw a forward pass. The Bulls will pick off passes, but if you can throw at all, you’ll hit the 200-yard mark. Bentley, go have fun.
Here’s Why South Florida Will Win The Birmingham Bowl
– Score early, and then groove on the lead. The South Carolina world depends on the ability to keep the other team from scoring lots and lots of points. Of course, that’s sort of the point, but really, USC isn’t the type of team that can keep up the pace if things start getting out of hand. That didn’t happen until the 56-7 Clemson loss, but South Florida is far better equipped to get the O going. Get up fast, and then let the running game do the work.
– 31% That’s been the magic third down mark over the second half of the South Carolina season when it comes to third down conversions. The Gamecocks are 5-0 on the year when converting 31% of the time, and 1-6 when they don’t. Overall, the USF third down defense hasn’t been anything great, but it did allow teams to convert fewer than 31% of their third down tries four times.
– America, welcome to Quinton Flowers. Marlon Mack has been a great back for the Bulls for the last few years, running for 1,137 yards and 15 scores this season, but it’s been the quarterback who’s been the star. Flowers ran for a team-high 1,425 yards and 15 touchdowns, and threw for 2,551 yards and 22 touchdowns with six picks. Magnificent in the open field, this has the potential to be his 2017 Heisman-campaign launching moment.
You’ve Read This Far, So You Get Three Honest Thoughts On The Birmingham Bowl
– Being really good at football is still a new thing for South Florida. It’s had its moments over the last decade, and it was a regular on the bowl circuit from 2005 to 2010 – going 4-2 – but it’s taken a while for a reboot. USF lost to WKU in last year’s Miami Beach Bowl, and this is just the second bowl appearance since 2010. The Bulls are going to be fired up to be here, even if it doesn’t have its head coach.
– You wanted Will Muschamp, you got Will Muschamp. And it just might work. Tight defense, decent special teams – at times – owning the turnover margin, keeping games close. Look familiar, Florida fans? Muschamp ball might not be scintillating, but it’s effective. Give him credit; his team doesn’t have a ton of talent or depth, but almost every game has been close.
– Okay, American Athletic Conference, show up. This has been the SEC Invitational over the last four years, with the SEC rolling by the AAC in the last three and beating Pitt in the 2013 game. Yeah, Temple won the league, but USF was the second-best team in the league this year, while South Carolina was around the tenth-best team in a down year for the SEC. Even with the coaching change, this would be a rough loss for the American.
Super. So Who’s Going To Win The Birmingham Bowl?
South Carolina will keep this tight, because it always keeps games tight. But it won’t have enough offense to overcome the three big plays the Bull offense come up with.
It won’t be the explosion that USF fans are used to with the running game – the time off will help the South Carolina defense to keep that from happening – but the lack of a Gamecock running attack will be apparent early. Too many drives just won’t go anywhere.
But again, the Bulls will keep this from turning into a blowout.
South Florida 23, South Carolina 20
South Florida -10.5, o/u: 62.5
ATS Confidence: 4
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Birmingham Bowl History, Results
Dec. 30, 2015 Auburn 31 Memphis 10
Jan. 3, 2015 Florida 28 East Carolina 20
Jan. 4, 2014 Vanderbilt 41 Houston 24
Jan. 5, 2013 Mississippi 38 Pittsburgh 17
Jan. 7, 2012 SMU 28 Pittsburgh 6
Jan. 8, 2011 Pittsburgh 27 Kentucky 10
Jan. 2, 2010 Connecticut 20 South Carolina 7
Dec. 29, 2008 Rutgers 29 N.C. State 23
Dec. 22, 2007 Cincinnati 31 Southern Miss 21
Dec. 23, 2006 USF 24 East Carolina 7