Spurrier sets sights on another first at USC

Coach has never won an Outback Bowl trophy

jkendall@thestate.comDecember 29, 2012 

  • Outback Bowl WHO: USC (10-2) vs. Michigan (8-4) WHEN: 1 p.m., Jan. 1 WHERE: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla. TV: ESPN RADIO: WNKT-FM 107.5 LINE: South Carolina by 6

— Steve Spurrier has won two Sugar Bowls, two Orange Bowls, two Capital One (formerly Citrus) Bowls, a Gator Bowl and a Liberty Bowl.

“This is one I’ve never won,” South Carolina’s coach said this week as his team prepares for the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1. “Been fortunate enough to win most of them, I guess, but never this one. We’ll try to see if we can do it, if we can win an Outback Bowl.”

The No. 11 Gamecocks (10-2) take on No. 19 Michigan (8-4) at 1 p.m. on Jan. 1 in Raymond James Stadium. The game not only gives Spurrier a chance to add a new trophy to the case but to become South Carolina’s all-time winningest coach in bowl games.

That bar is not high. Spurrier is tied with Lou Holtz for the school record with two bowl wins.

“That’s one thing about coaching at South Carolina, just about every time we win a game now it’s a school record of some kind,” Spurrier said.

Postseason trips have not been kind to Spurrier or the Gamecocks through the years. Spurrier is 8-10 all-time in bowl games, while South Carolina is 5-12.

“Every now and then we do look back and say, ‘Man, we used to stink it up,’ ” junior wide receiver Ace Sanders said.

Sanders is not surprised that three bowl trophies will give Spurrier the South Carolina record.

“Not with the history we have,” he said.

He also predicted his coach will set the record at a respectable number before his career is finished.

“He has many bowl wins to come after this one,” Sanders said.

The Wolverines, college football’s winningest program with 903 victories, have been to 41 bowl games but their recent postseason history hasn’t been much better than the Gamecocks. Michigan has lost five of its past seven bowl games and is 20-21 all-time in bowl games.

Spurrier is “a great follower” of Michigan’s most famous coach, Bo Schembechler, he said, and Schembechler had problems of his own in bowl games. He was 5-12 in 17 postseason appearances, including 2-7 in Rose Bowls. (Schembechler did not coach two of the bowl games during his career because of heart issues so his record from the sidelines is actually 5-10.)

South Carolina senior defensive tackle Byron Jerideau compared the Gamecocks’ relative lack of tradition against the Wolverines with last year’s matchup against Nebraska in the Capital One Bowl, a game the Gamecocks won 30-13. He also didn’t want to diminish Spurrier’s potential spot in the school’s postseason record book.

“Yeah (it’s only three),” he said, “but it’d be in the books.”

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Sights and sounds

D.J. Swearinger

Ace Sanders

Shaq Wilson

Justice Cunningham

Byron Jerideau

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