#USFvsSCAR Birmingham bowl: Dec. 29, 2016

  • Who: USF Bulls (10-2, 7-1 AAC) vs. South Carolina Gamecocks (6-6, 3-5 SEC)
  • What: 2016 Birmingham Bowl
  • Where: Legion Field • Birmingham, Alabama
  • When: Thursday, Dec. 29 • 2 p.m. EST (1 p.m. CST)
  • Broadcast: TV (ESPN | Watch ESPN), Radio (USF/IMG Radio Network)
  • Series History: South Carolina won the only meeting between the two schools by a score of 34-3 in 2004. The Bulls are 1-0 in the history of the Birmingham Bowl, defeating ECU, 24-7, in the 2006 edition of the game.

SCOUTING THE GAMECOCKS

South Carolina Facts

Location: Columbia, S.C.

Head Coach: Will Muschamp (1st season)

All-Time Bowl Record: 8-12

Stadium: Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250)

Key Players

  • Rico Dowdle (RB): 714 rushing yards on 121 attempts, team-leading six TD; 14 receptions for 47 yards
  • Deebo Samuel (WR): Team leader with 45 receptions and 593 yards; 12 kickoff returns for 334 yards and a TD
  • Bryan Edwards (WR): 38 receptions for 519 yards, 3 TD; team-leading 13.7 yards per reception
  • Darius English (DL): Team-highs in tackles for loss (12.5-76) and sacks (9-70)
  • Bryson Allen-Williams (LB): Team co-leader in tackles with 73; has also recorded 8.5 TFL and an INT

Usf offense vs. south carolina defense

What To Watch For

Trends

  • USF enters the game riding a four-game win streak, powering its way to a school-record 10 wins. South Carolina, on the other hand, has lost two of its past three games, including a 56-7 drubbing by Clemson in the last game. The Bulls won their second straight over rival UCF in the last game, a 48-31 win in Tampa.
  • USF's Gulf Coast Offense has been hot all year, ranking in the top 10 in the country in points per game (43.6 - 7th), rushing yards per game (292.2 - 5th) and total offense (515.1 - 10th). The Gamecock defense has posted mediocre numbers this season, listing 45th in the nation in points per game allowed (24.8 ppg), 89th in rushing defense (202.8 ypg) and 62nd in total defense (407.2 ypg).
  • USF set program season records in a multitude of categories in 2016 including points scored (523), total touchdowns (71), total offense (6,181 yards), yards per game (515.1), yards per play (7.3), rushing yards (3,506), rushing touchdowns (44) and average yards per rush (6.7).
  • One area South Carolina might have an advantage is in the red zone. The Gamecocks have been stingy, holding opponents to just a 73.5 scoring percentage inside the 20, a number that ranks 11th in the country. The USF offense has converted at a 84.8% clip, which ranks 60th in the country.

Battle In The Trenches

  • The Gamecock defense has not been able to garner much pressure on opposing quarterbacks in 2016. South Carolina has registered just 21 sacks on the season led by Darius English with nine. The 21 sacks rank in a tie for 90th in the FBS this season. The USF offensive line on the other hand has yielded just 15 sacks on the year, a figure that lists tied for 19th in the country and tops in the AAC.

Aerial Attack

  • AAC Offensive Player of the Year Quinton Flowers tied his school record with 22 passing touchdowns this season while throwing for 2,546 yards. Overall, Flowers completed 61.5% of his passes, and averaged 212.2 passing yards per game.
  • The duo of Rodney Adams and Marquez Valdez-Scantling led the receiving corps with a combined 1,156 yards and 10 touchdowns on 82 receptions. Adams needs just three receptions in the bowl game to set a new single-season school record for most receptions. The current record is 62, set by Hugh Smith in 2002.
  • The Gamecock defense has been opportunistic in 2016, recording 14 interceptions, with three players each hauling three a piece.

Ground Attack

  • At 292.2 rushing yards per game, USF ranks fifth in the FBS in the category. Conversely, the South Carolina defense lists 89th in rush defense, surrendering 202.8 yards per game on the ground.
  • The Bulls have two players that rushed for over 1,000 yards this year for the first time in school history, paced by Flowers. Marlon Mack added 1,137 yards on 161 carries. USF is one of only four schools in the country to have two 1,000-yard rushers this season.
  • Both Mack and Flowers have scored 15 touchdowns on the ground, a figure that places in a tie for 15th in the nation.
  • Not to be outdone, D'Ernest Johnson has added eight rushing touchdowns to go along with 516 yards.
  • The Gamecocks yielded a season-high 326 rushing yards against Georgia, while the Bulls have rushed for over 300 yards in six games this season.

Quarters To Win

  • The first and fourth quarters have been key to USF's success all season. The Bulls have scored 143 and 132 points respectively in those frames, outscoring their opponents by a combined 99 points. The Gamecocks, on the other hand, have a -27 scoring differential in the bookend quarters.

USF defense vs. south Carolina offense

What To Watch For

Trends

  • The South Carolina offense has managed to score just 14 points in its last two games against FBS foes.
  • The USF defense has allowed just three third down conversions in the fourth quarter of the last five games. Opponents have converted 3-14 (.214) third downs in that span.

Battle In The Trenches

  • The South Carolina offensive line has allowed 36 sacks on the season, an average of three per game. That figure ranks in a tie for 114th out of 128 teams in the FBS. The Gamecocks have surrendered 92 total tackles for loss, which tied for 117th in the nation. The USF defense has tallied 26 sacks (t-55th) and 69 TFL (t-67th).
  • Junior linebacker and captain Auggie Sanchez paces the Bulls with 111 total tackles and six sacks.
  • Sanchez and Nigel Harris lead the squad in TFL with 8.5 and 9.5, respectively.

Aerial Attack

  • Gamecock quarterback Jake Bentley started the final six games of the season, throwing for 1,030 yards and six touchdowns, however he has not thrown a touchdown in the past three games. As a team, South Carolina has only thrown nine touchdown passes all season.
  • The trio of Deebo Samuel, Hayden Hurst and Bryan Edwards have each eclipsed 500 yards receiving, accounting for 1,642 of South Carolina's 2,381 receiving yards (69%).
  • Deatrick Nichols leads the Bulls with four interceptions and seven passes broken up on the season. As a team, USF has 13 INT and 31 PBU.

Ground Attack

  • Rico Dowdle leads the Gamecock ground attack, rushing for 714 yards and six touchdowns - both team highs - in just eight games played.
  • While the USF defense has yielded an average of 4.6 yards per rush, South Carolina averages just 3.8 yards per rush.

USF special teams vs. south carolina special teams

What To Watch For

Place Kicking

  • Emilio Nadelman was a perfect 7-7 on field goals and 52-53 on extra points prior to being sidelined with an injury. Brandon Behr has taken over the place kicking duties, converting 2-5 attempts with a long of 33. Behr has made all 18 extra point attempts.
  • Elliott Fry has made 12-16 field goals on the year with a long of 55 for the Gamecocks. He has made his last four kicks and is perfect within 40 yards (8-8). Fry has attempted 27 extra points on the season, making all of them.

Punting

  • Sophomore Jonathan Hernandez has handled the punting duties for the Bulls this season, punting 60 times with an average of 41.2 yards. He has pinned 25 punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line and booted 12 punts over 50 yards with a long of 66.
  • Sean Kelly has punted 72 times this season and has an average of 42.5 yards per punt. Like Hernandez, 25 of his punts have been downed inside the opposition's 20-yard line and 13 punts have gone for longer than 50 yards.

Return Game

  • Serving as the primary punt returner, D'Ernest Johnson has returned 17 punts for 211 yards, an average of 12.4 yards per return. Against Syracuse, Johnson returned a punt 83 yards for a touchdown to put an exclamation point on the Bulls win over the Orange.
  • On kickoffs, Rodney Adams has a 24.3 yard average on 22 returns, a figure that lists 30th nationally. Johnson has returned five kicks for 135 yards.
  • Chris Lammons has served as the primary punt returner for the Gamecocks this season, but has returned just six for 23 yards - a 3.8 yard average.
  • AJ Turner and Deebo Samuel have similar stats on kickoff returns. Turner has returned 13 kicks for 321 yards (24.7 avg.) while Samuel has returned 12 for 334 yards (27.8 avg.) and a touchdown.

USF bowl game history

USF has appeared in seven bowl games all-time, winning four of them.

2005 - NC. State 14 • USF 0

Andre Hall rushed for 118 yards on 19 carried while adding 49 receiving yards on two receptions in the loss to the Wolfpack in the Car Care Bowl.

2006 - USF 24 • ECU 7

The Bulls scored all 24 points in the first half and the defense held the Pirates to just 54 rushing yards and tallied six sacks in the PapaJohns.com Bowl win.

2007 - Oregon 56 • USF 21

Matt Grothe totaled 259 yards of offense for the Bulls in the loss to the Ducks in the Sun Bowl.

2008 - USF 45 • Memphis 14

USF jumped out to a 24-7 lead and out-gained Memphis 496-238 in the 2008 rendition of the St. Petersburg bowl.

2010 - USF 27 • NIU 3

Mike Ford rushed for 207 yards and a touchdown as the Bulls defeated NIU, 27-3, north of the border in the International Bowl.

2010 - USF 31 • Clemson 26

B.J. Daniels accounted for three touchdowns (two passing, one rushing) en route to being named MVP of the Car Care Bowl.

2015 - WKU 45 • USF 35

Marlon Mack rushed for 108 yards while Quinton Flowers totaled 381 yards of offense in the loss to the Hilltoppers in the Miami Beach Bowl.

Birmingham bowl information

  • Stadium: Legion Field (71,594)
  • Started in 2006, the Birmingham Bowl is one of 13 bowl games owned and operated by ESPN Events.
  • Only bowl in the country aligned with both the Southeastern Conference and the American Athletic Conference.
  • Since 2006, the bowl has generated an economic impact of more than $130 million for the Birmingham area. And, through their partnership with the Monday Morning Quarterback Club, they’ve donated $280,000 to the Crippled Children’s Foundation. This money has gone to provide vital medical services to children in need.

#BullsUnite

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