A record top 10 finish again for Gamecocks

jkendall@thestate.comJanuary 8, 2013 

South Carolina Gamecocks wide receiver Damiere Byrd celebrates his touchdown catch in the first quarter of the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium.

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com

South Carolina didn’t add any victories to the win column or conference championships to the record books this year, but they capped the season with another high water mark on Tuesday.

The Gamecocks were ranked No. 8 in the final Associated Press poll, which was released early Tuesday morning following Alabama’s 42-14 win over Notre Dame in the BCS national championship game on Monday. It is the highest finish in school history, topping last year’s year end rank of No. 9.

“I’m very proud of our team and what we accomplished this season,” coach Steve Spurrier said in a statement released by the school. “We are obviously thrilled to be ranked one spot better than we were last year and the highest in school history.”

South Carolina finished an 11-2 season with a dramatic 33-28 win over Michigan in the Outback Bowl on Jan. 1. It finished ranked behind fellow SEC members Alabama (No. 1), Georgia (tie, No. 5), and Texas A&M (tie, No. 5).

“Much of the credit (for the season) goes to our seniors, especially the leadership provided by our captains, D.J. Swearinger, T.J. Johnson, Justice Cunningham and Shaq Wilson,” Spurrier said. “We lose a lot of outstanding players, but have a good nucleus returning for next season. Our goals will be just as high. Our No. 1 goal is to win the SEC championship, and we'll try to accomplish that next season.”

The Gamecocks will lose three offensive starters (running back Kenny Miles, Cunningham and Johnson) and seven defensive starters (Swearinger, Wilson, defensive linemen Devin Taylor and Byron Jerideau, linebacker Reginald Bowens, spur DeVonte Holloman and cornerback Akeem Auguste) from the Outback Bowl.

South Carolina has been ranked a school-record 47 straight weeks. It is the fifth-longest streak in the nation. The Gamecocks were ranked No. 7 in the final coaches poll of the season.

AP Top 25

1. Alabama (59)13-11,4752
2. Oregon12-11,3585
3. Ohio St.12-01,3023
4. Notre Dame12-11,2881
5. Georgia12-21,2306
5. Texas A&M11-21,23010
7. Stanford12-21,1698
8. South Carolina11-21,03811
9. Florida11-29334
10. Florida St.12-292213
11. Clemson11-288914
12. Kansas St.11-28717
13. Louisville11-278122
14. LSU10-37569
15. Oklahoma10-361512
16. Utah St.11-245618
17. Northwestern10-344321
18. Boise St.11-241920
19. Texas9-4358NR
20. Oregon St.9-430315
21. San Jose St.11-224324
22. N. Illinois12-222716
23. Vanderbilt9-4180NR
24. Michigan8-514719
25. Nebraska10-411923

Others receiving votes: Baylor 95, Penn St. 90, Cincinnati 78, Oklahoma St. 42, Tulsa 34, UCLA 31, Arkansas St. 28, TCU 9, UCF 9, Wisconsin 6, N. Dakota St. 1.

USA Today Coaches Poll

1. Alabama (56)13-11,4002
2. Oregon12-11,3223
3. Notre Dame12-11,2531
4. Georgia12-21,2135
5. Texas A&M11-21,1719
6. Stanford12-21,1678
7. South Carolina11-21,06410
8. Florida State12-294212
9. Clemson11-291613
10. Florida11-28864
11. Kansas State11-28416
12. LSU10-37757
13. Louisville11-277218
14. Boise State11-263315
15. Oklahoma10-360011
16. Northwestern10-358017
17. Utah State11-244420
18. Texas9-439825
19. Oregon State9-436614
20. Vanderbilt9-4248NR
21. San Jose State11-224424
22. Cincinnati10-3186NR
23. Nebraska10-417521
24. Northern Illinois12-215616
25. Tulsa11-3110NR

Others receiving votes: Michigan 101; UCLA 75; Baylor 52; Oklahoma State 36; Wisconsin 18; Central Florida 15; Arkansas State 13; Arizona State 10; Rutgers 9; Kent State 5; Louisiana Tech 2; Arizona 1; Ohio 1.

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