Friday, January 01, 2010

South Carolina Gamecocks v UConn Huskies Bowl Preview / Prediction

South Carolina vs. Connecticut, Bowl, Jan. 2, Birmingham, Ala.

Well, here we are with the last game of the 2009-2010 football season for the University of South Carolina football team. It has been a interesting “up and down” type season with many storylines and “what if’s.” Go ahead and push everything that has taken place to the side as this game is for all the marbles.

This bowl game is another showcase of the Big East squaring off against the perennially stout SEC. UConn (7-5) earned a berth by winning its final three games, including dramatic victories over Notre Dame and South Florida. South Carolina (7-5) ended a three-game losing streak with an impressive win over Clemson in its season finale. This will be the first meeting between the programs and should be a doozy.

Both teams view this game as being very important for their climb in each of their respected conferences. UConn will be playing with tons of emotion for a number of reasons and must find a way to bottle that up and play ball. For Carolina getting the 8th win is uber-important in the grand scheme of things and for Spurrier to show without a doubt progress is being made. Getting a win in less than 24 hours can really tee some good things up for the future of Carolina Football from energy in the fan-base to recruiting. But before we think about all that there is a football game that must be won.

What you will see in this game is a very talented UConn running game trying to be established in this game early and often versus a very talented gamecocks defense. UConn is weak in the secondary and Carolina must find a way to expose that fact. UConn also at times can have a suspect run defense and Carolina is coming off their best rushing game versus Clemson (223 yards). In many games, UConn plays like it is a shootout (averages 32 points a game) so for Carolina they must get stops on defense (South Carolina is 15th in the nation in total defense and third in the SEC, behind only Florida and Alabama) and play with a ball control mentality.  UConn can hurt Carolina if they are able to run and run and run.  Plus if UConn can get pressure on USC qb Garcia then it could lead to a long day with a Spurrier visor throw.

Just like last year’s bowl game for Carolina, which did not end well, this game and its’ success for Carolina rests with USC qb Garcia. I feel strongly the SC defense will do its part and slow UConn even if they try to pound it by running the ball. USC has the strength in its secondary to shut UConn down. On the flip side, USC must bring a balanced attack with mistake free play on offense.

Carolina has had time to prepare and will be ready to prove that they are building something special in Columbia – “New Carolina.” I think that Carolina, after settling down early and making 2nd half adjustments, will be in control of the game. Carolina will win this game which will yield that much needed/desired 8th win.

Carolina 31-17. Go Cocks!

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