The Birmingham Bowl might not have looked exciting on paper, but it wound up being a highly exciting bowl between South Carolina and South Florida.
The 46-39 overtime win for the Bulls against the Gamecocks was ranked the No. 4 bowl game of the season by CBS Sports on Thursday.
“Who would have thought one of the most exciting bowl games of the season would have involved South Carolina?” wrote CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli. “It looked like this one could prove to be a blowout early, but South Carolina fought its way back and overcame a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force overtime. It lost, but, hey, a good time was had by all.”
South Carolina fell behind early against South Florida, trailing by two scores at many points in the game last Thursday. But the Gamecocks battled back time and time again, overcoming turnover issues, including two fumbles inside the 1-yard line, to tie the game with 1:11 to play.
The game shattered more than a dozen offensive records in the Birmingham Bowl, as South Florida’s Quinton Flowers had a big game. South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel set a handful of records, as he posted a huge game with a career-high 190 receiving yards.
Freshman quarterback Jake Bentley threw for almost 400 yards, finishing with 390 as the passing attack fueled the comeback and he left a strong final statement on his first season at South Carolina.
The Gamecocks fell in overtime when Flowers threw a touchdown pass on the first play in the extra time and they could not match the score and leave the season with the win they wanted and a 7-6 record. Still, the Gamecocks found a tone set from the season finale as they head into Will Muschamp’s second year with some momentum and certainly some motivation.
Only the Armed Forces Bowl, the Orange Bowl and the Rose Bowl ranked higher among the 40 bowl games this season.