'National champion of the bowl season': USC beats six bowl game champions

jkendall@thestate.comJanuary 5, 2014 

South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier thanks the fans after the Capital one Bowl between the Wisconsin Badgers and the South Carolina Gamecocks on January 1, 2014 at the citrus bowl in Orlando Florida.

JOE PETRO — PSP IMAGES

Steve Spurrier does not expect South Carolina to be ranked in the nation’s top five when the final Associated Press poll of season is released in the early morning hours of Tuesday, after Auburn and Florida State are done deciding the BCS national title.

“No, no, no, not with Oklahoma beating Alabama,” Spurrier told The State. “If we finish between Nos. 7 and 9, I’ll be as happy as I can be. There are a whole bunch of 11-2s.”

Regardless of where the Gamecocks are ranked, Spurrier already has conferred a title on his team.

“I am going to declare South Carolina the national champion of the bowl season,” he said, noting the Gamecocks beat six teams this season that won their bowl game, including two that won BCS bowl games.

Clemson beat Ohio State 40-35 in the Orange Bowl, UCF beat Baylor 52-42 in the Fiesta Bowl, Missouri beat Oklahoma State 41-31 in the Cotton Bowl, Vanderbilt beat Houston 41-24 in the BBVA Compass Bowl, Mississippi State beat Rice 44-7 in the Liberty Bowl and North Carolina beat Cincinnati 39-17 in the Belk Bowl. All fell to the Gamecocks in the regular season.

“That’s unbelievable,” Spurrier said. “I don’t know how it worked out that way.

“Lose to South Carolina, win the bowl game.”

Clemson, by contrast, beat one team this season that went on to win a bowl game, Spurrier noted. That was Syracuse, which beat Minnesota 21-17 in the Texas Bowl.

“Georgia, Georgia Tech both lost. Boston College lost,” Spurrier said. “Florida State, of course they didn’t beat them so don’t have to worry about them.”

The Gamecocks (11-2) were ranked No. 8 in the country headed into the Capital One Bowl, in which they beat No. 19 Wisconsin 34-24. Four teams ahead of them in the final regular season poll — No. 3 Alabama, No. 5 Stanford, No. 6 Baylor and No. 7 Ohio State — all lost their bowl games.

Still, Spurrier believes the top five is not a safe bet. South Carolina never has finished the season higher than No. 8 in the country, a goal it reached following last year’s 11-2 season. The Gamecocks are one of four teams to have won at least 11 games the last three years.

“The computers will love us,” Spurrier said. “All the voters, you don’t know what they are going to look at.”

The final Associated Press poll is scheduled to be released within two hours of the conclusion of Monday night’s BCS Championship game between the Tigers and Seminoles.

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