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Nov. 18, 2005

SETTING THE STAGE: The 2005 regular season comes to an end when the South Carolina Gamecocks (7-3, 5-3 SEC) host the Clemson Tigers (6-4, 4-4 ACC) for bragging rights in the Palmetto State on Saturday, November 19. Game time is set for 7:06 p.m. at Williams-Brice Stadium (80,250) in Columbia. Todd Ellis (play-by-play) and Tommy Suggs (analyst) handle the broadcast for the Carolina Gamecock Sports Network, with Rob DeBoer on the sidelines. The game will be shown throughout the state of South Carolina on ESPN2 and can be seen across the country as part of ESPN’s GamePlan package. Dave Pasche, Rod Gilmore and Trevor Matich will be in the booth with Duke Castiglione on the sidelines. Sports USA Radio Network will be on hand with Howard David and Doug Plank calling the action. The game will be available on Sirius Satellite Radio channel 144.

IN THE POLLS: The South Carolina Gamecocks have moved into the top 25 in the national polls for the first time this season, ranking 19th in this week’s Associated Press poll and 21st in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches poll. The last time that Carolina was ranked going into the Clemson game was in 2001 when they were 7-3 and ranked 22nd before posting a 20-15 win over the Tigers. The 2001 campaign also marked the last time that Carolina finished the season ranked, as they were 13th in both polls following an Outback Bowl win over Ohio State.

SENIOR SALUTE: This is the final home game for 25 Carolina seniors including: Brook Antonio, Carson Askins, Kyle Bishop, Josh Brown, Kris Clark, De’Adrian Coley, Terrell Davis, Michael Flint, Tim Frisby, Na’Shan Goddard, Ricardo Hurley, Jared Jeffcoat, Orus Lambert, Lance Laury, Jabari Levey, Fran Person, Stephen Pitts, Freddy Saint-Preux, Bobby Scott, Charles Silas, Eric Strohman, Chris Tucker, Daccus Turman, Tremaine Tyler, and Le’Moriell Williams. Those who have been with the program for five years have posted a record of 32-25.

ABOUT THE GAMECOCKS: The Gamecocks have won five straight SEC games to improve their overall record to 7-3, 5-3 in the SEC, in the first year of the “Steve Spurrier Era” at the University of South Carolina. The current streak marks the first time they have won five straight SEC contests since joining the league in 1992. The Gamecocks have posted consecutive wins over Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida and have non-conference wins over UCF and Troy. The Gamecocks’ three losses – versus Alabama, at Auburn and at Georgia – have come against teams ranked among the nation’s top 20. Those three schools have a combined record of 24-5 and are ranked 8th, 11th, and 14th respectively in this week’s Associated Press poll. The Gamecocks defy traditional logic, as they rank 12th in the SEC and 112th in the country in rushing offense and 11th in the league and 86th in the land in rushing defense.

AND FOR THE TIGERS: Clemson has won four of its last five games to become bowl-eligible at 6-4 overall and 4-4 in the ACC. Six of the Tigers’ 10 games have been decided by six points or less, with two of the contests (both losses) being determined in overtime. Senior quarterback Charlie Whitehurst has run the offense most of the season. He leads an attack that averages 28 points per game while the Tiger defense surrenders just 19 points per contest. Clemson features one of the nation’s top field goal kickers in junior Jad Dean, who kicked three field goals in the win over Carolina last year. Tommy Bowden is in his seventh year at Clemson (50-33) and in his ninth year as a head coach (68-37). He is 5-1 lifetime against the Gamecocks.

BOWL ON THE HORIZON: When they secured their sixth victory of the season at Arkansas, South Carolina became bowl-eligible for the fourth time in the past six years,and is on its way to its first bowl game since the 2001 season. Carolina has gone to 11 bowl games in school history, losing the first eight before winning the last three – the 1995 Carquest Bowl against West Virginia, and most recently posting back-to-back Outback Bowl wins over Ohio State in 2000 and 2001. Head Coach Steve Spurrier took Florida to 11 bowl games in his 12 seasons as the Gators’ coach. Bowl reps expected to be at this week’s game include the Capital One, Outback and Peach Bowls.

LET’S GO WILDCATS: The Gamecock nation will be pulling for an upset by the Kentucky Wildcats when they travel to Georgia this weekend to face the Bulldogs. A Kentucky win would drop Georgia into a three-way tie for the SEC East Division lead at 5-3 with South Carolina and Florida. Since all three teams would be 1-1 against each other, the tie-breaking system would then eliminate Georgia on their divisional record, leaving a two-way tie between the Gamecocks and Gators. Carolina wins that tie-breaker based on a head-to-head victory, sending USC to its first SEC title game in Atlanta on December 3.

NO WORSE THAN SECOND: With a 5-3 conference record, Carolina will do no worse than tie for second place in the SEC East Division. It would match the Gamecocks’ highest finish in the league, as they also went 5-3 and tied for second in the 2000 season. That year was a three-way tie for second (Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee) behind 7-1 Florida.

HOME COOKIN’: The Gamecocks are 5-1 at home this season heading into the Clemson game. The last time they won six games at home in a season was in 1988 when they went 8-4 overall, 6-1 in Columbia.

SERIES NOTES: This will be the 103rd meeting between the two in-state rivals in a series that dates back to 1896. Clemson holds the all-time lead in the series, 62-36, while four games have ended in a tie. The Tigers hold a 47-29-3 advantage when the game has been played in Columbia. CU has won the last three contests and seven of the last eight meetings, including a 29-7 win in Clemson last November. USC’s lone win in that stretch came in 2001 by a 20-15 score. This year’s game pits a seven-win USC team against a six-win Clemson team. The 13 wins between the two teams going into the game is the most since the 2000 season when they had 15 wins combined (CU-8, USC-7).

A USC WIN OVER CLEMSON WOULD: * Extend Carolina’s winning streak to six straight games, their longest since winning the final game of the 2000 season (an Outback Bowl win over Ohio State) and the first five games of the 2001 season. The last time they won six in a row in the same season was the first six games of the 1988 campaign (North Carolina, Western Carolina, East Carolina, Georgia, Appalachian State and Virginia Tech). * Give the Gamecocks an eight-win season, their best campaign since going 9-3 in 2001. * Snap a three-game losing streak to the Tigers. It would be just the second Carolina win over Clemson in the last nine years.

LAST SEASON’S MATCHUP: Clemson’s Reggie Merriweather had three touchdowns and a career-high 125 yards rushing to lead Clemson to a 29-7 victory over the Gamecocks on Nov. 20, 2004 at Memorial Stadium in Clemson. Carolina’s Cory Boyd fumbled away the opening kickoff and Clemson’s Steven Jackson recovered on the USC 9. Two plays later, Merriweather rushed in from three yards out to put the Tigers up 7-0 only 52 seconds into the game. Merriweather added a 7-yard touchdown run two series later and added a 12-yard score to open the second half. USC punted nine times, five of those after going three-and-out. The Gamecocks only score came in the second quarter when Syvelle Newton hooked up with Boyd on a 54-yard scoring pass.Clemson outgained Carolina on the day, 313-197, and rolled up 19 first downs to Carolina’s eight.

SPURRIER VS. CLEMSON: Carolina Head Coach Steve Spurrier is making his first appearance in the USC-Clemson matchup, but is familiar with the Tigers. He owns a 1-2 record when facing Clemson, all in ACC action while he was the head coach at Duke University. Clemson was ranked 7th in 1987 when they defeated the Blue Devils, 17-10, in Clemson. The Tigers were ranked 11th in 1988 when they posted a 49-17 win over the 22nd-ranked Blue Devils in Clemson. Spurrier and a 1-3 Blue Devil team knocked off the seventh-ranked Tigers by a 21-17 score in Durham in 1989.

THE LAST TIME OUT: For the first time since 1939, the South Carolina Gamecocks defeated the Florida Gators, 30-22, last Saturday afternoon in Columbia. Mike Davis rushed for 88 yards and two touchdowns, while Daccus Turman also scored two rushing TDs. Sidney Rice caught five passes for 112 yards. Defensive tackle Chris Tucker got the Gamecocks started when he intercepted a Chris Leak pass and returned it 48 yards, setting up Carolina’s first score. In a recurring theme during the Gamecocks’ five-game winning streak, Carolina lost the statistical battle, but won the contest. Florida outgained USC, 359-256, ran 68 plays to Carolina’s 53 and held the ball for eight more minutes, but still could not register the win. Carolina’s 30 points scored were the most in school history against the Gators.

STREAK ENDS: Redshirt freshman wide receiver Sidney Rice had his school record-setting streak of catching a touchdown pass end at eight straight games when he was kept out of the endzone against Florida. He recorded a school record 12 touchdown catches in the first eight games of his career.

RUNNING TO PAYDIRT: Florida kept Blake Mitchell from throwing a touchdown pass, but the USC running game picked up the slack with four touchdown carries. Mitchell entered the game with an SEC-leading 15 touchdown passes, while the Gamecocks had rushed for just seven TDs all season, before Daccus Turman and Mike Davis each carried twice into the endzone against the Gators.

TUCKER SETS THE TONE: Senior defensive tackle Chris Tucker was living the dream when he intercepted a battled Chris Leak pass and rumbled 48 yards in the first quarter, setting up Carolina’s first touchdown of the day. He earned SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week honors for his efforts. It was the second week in a row that a defensive lineman intercepted a pass for the Gamecocks, setting up a touchdown. Orus Lambert pulled the same trick at Arkansas a week earlier.

FIVE IN A ROW: Carolina has won five straight games, tying Ohio State and UTEP for the eighth longest current winning streak in the country. Southern California has won 32 in a row, followed by Texas with 17 and TCU with nine. Miami (Fla.) (8), Fresno State (7), LSU (7) and Oregon (6) are four through seven.

BEATING A RANKED OPPONENT: When Carolina knocked off No. 23/25 Tennessee, it snapped a string of seven straight losses against an opponent ranked in the Associated Press’s top 25, dating back to a 31-7 win over No. 15 Virginia on Sept. 6, 2003. The win over No. 12 Florida on Saturday was the highest-ranked opponent Carolina has defeated since a win against No. 9 Georgia in 2000.

WINNING THE CLOSE ONES: USC has rallied in the second half for victories in four of their last five games, showing a penchant for winning the close one. The Gamecocks are 5-1 in games decided by 10 points or less, with each of their last four games, all wins, decided by eight points or less. USC is 7-3 despite outscoring the opposition by only 16 points (244-228).

FOR STARTERS: Twenty-eight players have made their first collegiate start for the Gamecocks this season, 14 on offense and 14 on defense, the most in Division I football in 2005.

WALK(-ON) THIS WAY: USC has used a pair of walk-ons in key positions. Offensive lineman Thomas Coleman and tight end Carson Askins have made three starts each. Prior to the start of the season, four walk-ons were rewarded with scholarships. The quartet included deep snapper Ike Crofoot, wide receiver Michael Flint, fullback Lanard Stafford and linebacker Jerod June.

RED ZONE NUMBERS: USC’s offense has had excellent success in the red zone, scoring on 26-of-31 opportunities (83.9 percent), which ranks fourth in the SEC. They were a perfect five-for-five (four TDs, 1 FG) against Florida, and have scored 22 touchdowns, while settling for a field goal attempt just six times. The Gamecocks percentage of touchdowns scored per red zone opportunity (71 percent) leads the SEC. Defensively, the Gamecocks rank sixth in the SEC, allowing their opponents to score 73.7 percent of the time (28-of-38) when entering the red zone.

THE TURNOVER FACTOR: After logging just three turnovers leading to six points in the first three games, the Gamecocks have forced 15 turnovers and have turned them into 76 points over the last seven contests. For the season, USC is plus-0.30 in turnover ratio, coughing up the ball 15 times which have led to 30 points, while forcing 18 turnovers that have led to 82 USC points.

GAMECOCK DEBUTS: Steve Spurrier has matched Warren Giese, Jim Carlen and Brad Scott for most wins in their first season as Carolina’s head coach with seven. Here’s how coaches fared in their first year in Columbia: Coach Year Record Steve Spurrier 2005 7-3 Warren Giese 1956 7-3 Brad Scott 1994 7-5 Jim Carlen 1975 7-5 Sparky Woods 1989 6-4-1 Joe Morrison 1983 5-6 Richard Bell 1982 4-7 Marvin Bass 1961 4-6 Paul Dietzel 1966 1-9 Lou Holtz 1999 0-11

GOING BOWLING: Steve Spurrier will join Jim Carlen (1975) and Brad Scott (1994) as coaches that led the Gamecocks to a bowl game in their first season as head coach. Carlen’s squad lost 20-7 to Miami (Ohio) in the Tangerine Bowl, while Scott’s team defeated West Virginia in the Carquest Bowl, 24-21.

PLAYING THE KIDS: USC has 24 true freshmen scholarship players. Of the 24, half have seen action. Those who have played in their first season at USC include Yvan Banag, Mike Davis, Jonathan Hannah, Shea McKeen, Kenny McKinley, Nathan Pepper, Taylor Rank, Marvin Sapp, Ryan Succop, Carlos Thomas, Bobby Wallace and Dakota Walker. Those who are have not played include Tommy Beecher, Kerry Bonds, Freddie Brown, Jared Cook, Brent Davis, Lemuel Jeanpierre, O.J. Murdock, Gerrod Sinclair, Cade Thompson, Jeremy Ware, Damien Wright and Brandyn Young.

MITCHELL’S THE MAN: Redshirt sophomore Blake Mitchell has had a solid season in his first year as the starting signal-caller. He has completed 150-of-248 passes for 1,924 yards and 15 touchdowns with six interceptions. Although he does not get the publicity of some of the other SEC quarterbacks, Mitchell ranks: * 3rd in the SEC in touchdown passes (15). * 3rd in the SEC in completion pct. (60.5). * 3rd in the SEC and 30th in the country in passing efficiency (140.8).

MORE MITCHELL: Blake Mitchell is moving up the charts on USC’s single season lists. He is tied for sixth in single season touchdown passes with 15, is fourth in percentage with a 60.5 completion ratio and is closing in on the top 10 in single season passing yards. Here are those lists: Single Season Touchdown Passes Rk Quarterback Year TD Passes 1. Steve Taneyhill 1995 29 2. Todd Ellis 1986 20 Steve Taneyhill 1994 20 4. Anthony Wright 1997 18 5. Jeff Grantz 1975 16 6. Bobby Fuller 1991 15 Blake Mitchell 2005 15 8. Tommy Suggs 1968 13 Bobby Fuller 1990 13 10. Phil Petty 2001 12

Single Season Completion Percentage Rk Quarterback Year C-A Pct. 1. Steve Taneyhill 1995 261-389 .671 2. Dondrial Pinkins 2004 68-108 .630 3. Steve Taneyhill 1994 231-367 .629 4. Blake Mitchell 2005 150-248 .605 5. Todd Ellis 1986 205-340 .603

Single Season Passing Yards Rk Quarterback Year Yards 1. Todd Ellis 1987 3,206 2. Steve Taneyhill 1995 3,094 3. Todd Ellis 1986 3,020 4. Bobby Fuller 1991 2,524 5. Steve Taneyhill 1994 2,486 6. Bobby Fuller 1990 2,372 7. Todd Ellis 1988 2,285 8. Phil Petty 2000 2,353 9. Dondrial Pinkins 2003 2,127 10. Tommy Suggs 1970 2,030 Blake Mitchell 2005 1,924

FOUR STARTERS: Na’Shan Goddard, Chris White, Ko Simpson and Chris Tucker are the only Gamecocks to start all 10 games in 2005.

SERVING UP RICE: Redshirt freshman Sidney Rice is a key ingredient in the Carolina offense. The Gaffney, S.C. product has been over 100 yards receiving in four of the last five games, going for 125 against Kentucky, a season-high 132 against Vanderbilt, 112 at Tennessee and another 112 against Florida. He has established the school record for touchdown catches in a season with 12. Rice ranks: * 1st in the SEC and 21st in the country in receiving yards, averaging 92.2 yards per game. * Tied for 1st in the SEC in touchdowns scored with 12. * 3rd in the SEC and 38th in the country in reception, averaging 5.75 catches per contest. * 2nd in the SEC and 39th in the country in scoring, averaging 8.0 points per game.

FRESHMAN SENSATION: Sidney Rice is closing in on the NCAA freshman record for touchdown pass receptions. Rice currently has 12 TD receptions, just two off the NCAA freshman record of 14, held by Florida’s Jabar Gaffney (2000) and Southern California’s Mike Williams (2002). His 12 touchdowns scored ranks in a tie for second with West Virginia’s Steve Slaton among this year’s freshmen behind only Northwestern running back Tyrell Sutton (18).

RICE IS HEATING UP: Sidney Rice seemingly has improved with every game. Here’s a look at his game-by-game performances after missing the opener with a broken finger. Opponent Receptions Yards Touchdowns Georgia 5 70 1 Alabama 5 74 1 Troy 5 91 1 Auburn 3 63 1 Kentucky 8 125 2 Vanderbilt 8 132 3 Tennessee 8 112 2 Arkansas 4 51 1 Florida 5 112 0 TOTALS 51 830 12

MORE RICE PLEASE: Sidney Rice is moving up the USC charts. Here’s where he ranks: Single Season Touchdown Receptions Rk Receiver Year TDs 1. Sidney Rice 2005 12 2. Jermale Kelly 1997 10 Monte Means 1995 10 Sterling Sharpe 1986 10 5. Zola Davis 1995 9

Single Season Touchdowns Scored Rk Player Year TDs 1. Harold Green 1987 16 2. George Rogers 1980 14 3. Jeff Grantz 1975 12 Sterling Sharpe 1986 12 Stanley Pritchett 1995 12 Derek Watson 2000 12 Andrew Pinnock 2001 12 Sidney Rice 2005 12

Single Season Receiving Yards Rk Receiver Year Yards 1. Sterling Sharpe 1986 1,106 2. Sterling Sharpe 1987 915 3. Zola Davis 1995 911 4. Troy Williamson 2004 835 5. Sidney Rice 2005 830 6. Zola Davis 1998 733 7. Brian Scott 2001 730 8. Philip Logan 1975 716 9. Reed Bethea 1987 689 10. Robert Brooks 1991 684

Career Touchdown Receptions Rk Receiver Years TDs 1. Jermale Kelly 1997-2000 19 Robert Brooks 1988-1991 19 3. Zola Davis 1995-1998 17 Sterling Sharpe 1983, 1985-87 17 5. Philip Logan 1974-1977 15 6. Troy Williamson 2002-2004 13 Monty Means 1992-1995 13 Toby Cates 1991-1994 13 9. Sidney Rice 2005 12 10. Mike Haggard 1970-1972 11

SEC Single-Season Freshman Receptions Rk Receiver, School Year Rec. 1. Jabar Gaffney, Florida 2000 71 2. Earl Bennett, Vanderbilt 2005 65 3. Jerel Myers, LSU 1999 64 Kelley Washington, Tennessee 2001 64 5. Zola Davis, South Carolina 1995 58 6. Ronney Daniels, Auburn 1999 56 7. Terrence Edwards, Georgia 1999 53 8. Sidney Rice, South Carolina 2005 51

NO DEPOSIT, NO RETURN: Freshman kicker Ryan Succop has been impressive while handling kickoffs for Carolina. 22 of his 49 kickoffs (44 percent) have been touchbacks. Only 15 of 52 USC kickoffs a year ago (29 percent) were touchbacks.

MIXING IT UP: The offensive line has been a revolving door this season. The Gamecocks have started the same five linemen in back-to-back games just once and nine players have made starts. Chris White and Na’Shan Goddard have started all 10 games, while Jabari Levey has made nine starts. Freddy Saint-Preux has started six times, while William Brown and Thomas Coleman has made four starts. James Thompson have each started three times, while Fran Person and Jamon Meredith have each started twice.

EARLY RETURNS: The Gamecocks feature a pair of true freshmen in their return game. Carlos Thomas handles the kickoff returns. He has returned 16 kicks for 371 yards, a 23.2 yard average which ranks seventh in the SEC. His long is a 79-yarder against Troy. Kenny McKinley has returned 14 punts for 52 yards, a 3.7 yard average, which ranks ninth in the SEC. DAVIS DELIVERS: True freshman tailback Mike Davis has given the Gamecocks’ running game a shot in the arm of late. Here’s a look at Davis through the season’s first seven games compared to the last three contests: Game Nos. Att. Yards TD Avg. 1-7 53 192 1 3.6 8-10 54 238 2 4.4 Totals 107 430 3 4.0

JUST FOR KICKS: Josh Brown’s career-long 49-yard field goal was the game-winner over Tennessee. It tied for the ninth longest field goal in USC history and was the longest since Reid Bethea hit a 49-yarder against Alabama on Sept. 30, 2000. Bethea and Brown own the only two field goals of 49-yards or longer by a Carolina kicker since 1992. Brown has converted 6-of-8 field goal attempts this year and is 16-of-23 in his career. After missing four of his first five field goal attempts in his career, he has converted 15 of his last 18 field goal tries.

DEFENSE SCORES: The Gamecocks defense has produced three touchdowns this season. Johnathan Joseph returned an interception 42 yards for a score at Georgia. Brandon Isaac returned a fumble 11 yards against Troy for a TD. Ko Simpson returned a fumble 19 yards for a touchdown against Kentucky.

SACK ATTACK: The Gamecocks lead the SEC with 31 sacks. Stanley Doughty (3.5 sacks), Jordin Lindsey (3.0) and Mike West (3.0 sacks) lead the way, but 17 different players have figured in the mix. The 31 sacks easily exceeds USC’s 2004 total of 12 sacks and surpasses the 1995 total of 30 as the high mark since the 1990 season.

CORNERING THE MARKET: Cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph (3) and Fred Bennett (2) own five of the Gamecocks’ nine interceptions this season. Joseph, who is tied for the SEC lead with three, has interceptions against Georgia (which he returned 42 yards for a touchdown), against Vanderbilt (which he returned 32 yards setting up a USC touchdown) and at Tennessee (which set up another Carolina TD). They are the first three interceptions of his career. Bennett has picks against UCF and Troy and also blocked a field goal attempt against Vanderbilt, the first block by a USC player since 2001. He owns six career interceptions. Ko Simpson (who has a team-high seven career interceptions), Carlos Thomas, Orus Lambert and Chris Tucker own the other interceptions.

KO IS OK: Sophomore safety Ko Simpson is the most heralded player on the USC roster. Simpson was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts in the win over Kentucky after returning a fumble for a touchdown, intercepting a pass (the seventh of his career) which led to another Gamecock TD and logging a game-high 13 tackles. The 6-1, 201-pounder was USC’s only pre-season all-conference selection and has been named to numerous pre-season all-America squads. He is regarded as the top safety in America and a first team all-America by The Sporting News and is on the Watch List for the Bronco Nagurski Award. Simpson was named the SEC Freshman of the Year by the Associated Press and was a Freshman all-American last season after logging six interceptions, tying for the SEC lead and tying for third nationally. This season he leads the team with 87 tackles, including 62 solos. His 8.7 tackles/game average leads all SEC defensive backs and ranks him fifth in the SEC among all defensive players.

SEEING DOUBLE: The Gamecocks have opponents seeing double when Jordin and Dustin Lindsey are on the field. Jordin has started the last seven games at defensive end, while Dustin has made four straight starts at linebacker and has recorded 35 tackles since moving into the starting role. Wearing numbers 40 and 41, the Lindsey twins from Davidson High School in Mobile, Ala., have combined for 79 tackles including 12.0 tackles for loss.

PUTTING POINTS ON THE BOARD: The last time a Steve Spurrier coached offense was shutout came on October 3, 1987 against Rutgers in Piscataway, New Jersey. The Scarlet Knights blanked the Blue Devils, 7-0. Coach Spurrier has coached 187 straight games without being whitewashed since that day in Jersey.

RECORD SALES: USC set a school record for football season tickets sold. The Gamecocks sold 62,618 season tickets in 2005, surpassing the previous mark of 62,103, set in 2002. The numbers do not include student tickets and tickets contractually obligated to visiting teams.

ALL-TIME RECORD: This is the 112th season of college football at the University of South Carolina, dating back to 1892. The university did not field a team in either 1893 or 1906. This is the 99th consecutive year in which the Gamecocks have competed on the gridiron. They own an all-time record of 507-510-44. Their only conference championship came in the 1969 season when they posted a perfect 6-0 record to win the Atlantic Coast Conference title in Paul Dietzel’s fourth year.

BETTER OF LATE: After the 1998 and `99 seasons saw USC win just once in 22 tries, the Gamecocks have turned things around. Since the start of the 2000 season, USC has logged a record of 40-29. The 33 wins from 2000-04 matched the best five-year stretch in school history, also accomplished from 1980-84.

IN THE BOOTH: Receivers coach Steve Spurrier, Jr. and secondary coach Dave Wommack are the only full-time coaches who sit in the pressbox during the game. The rest of the full-time staff are on the sidelines.

ELITE COACHES: The Sporting News ranked the top collegiate coaches. USC’s Steve Spurrier was tabbed the second best coach in the country behind only Southern California’s Pete Carroll. Here is TSN’s top 10: 1. Pete Carroll, Southern California 2. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina 3. Bob Stoops, Oklahoma 4. Kirk Ferentz, Iowa 5. Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech 6. Jim Tressel, Ohio State 7. Phil Fulmer, Tennessee 8. Mack Brown, Texas 9. Dan Hawkins, Boise State 10. Tom O’Brien, Boston College

BOWL TIE-INS: The SEC has agreements to send eight of its member institutions to post-season bowl games following the 2005 season. The winner of the SEC Championship Game will automatically participate in the Bowl Championship Series comprised of the Sugar, Rose, Orange and Fiesta Bowls. the Capital One Bowl (Orlando) will then make its pick. Other SEC tie-ins are with the Outback Bowl (Tampa), SBC Cotton Bowl (Dallas), Chick-fil-a Peach Bowl (Atlanta), Mainstay Independence Bowl (Shreveport), Gaylord Hotels Music City Bowl (Nashville) and Houston Bowl. Six SEC school are bowl-eligible: Georgia, Florida and South Carolina from the East and Alabama, LSU and Auburn from the West.

LENDING A HAND: Head Coach Steve Spurrier has put together an excellent coaching staff. On the offensive side of the ball, Coach Spurrier is the coordinator and also works directly with the quarterbacks. Madre Hill, one of the top tailbacks ever at the University of Arkansas, is in his first season at USC as the running backs coach. John Hunt, who worked with Coach Spurrier at Florida is the offensive line coach. David Reaves, son of All-American quarterback John Reaves, assists Coach Spurrier with the quarterbacks. Steve Spurrier, Jr. rejoins his father’s staff, taking over the wide receivers. Rick Stockstill is in his second season at USC as the recruiting coordinator and also handles the tight ends. On the defensive side of the ball, John Thompson and Tyrone Nix are co-defensive coordinators. Thompson, who served as the head coach at East Carolina the past two seasons, also works with the inside linebackers. Nix, who played and coached at Southern Miss, handles the defensive line. Ron Cooper works with the outside linebackers and also is the special teams coordinator. Dave Wommack serves as the secondary coach. Thompson, Nix and Wommack all worked together at Southern Miss.

UP NEXT: The Gamecocks will look forward to a bowl appearance for the first time since the 2001 season when they defeated Ohio State, 31-28, in the Outback Bowl. Carolina is 3-8 all-time in bowl games, but has won each of their last three bowl games, topping West Virginia, 24-21 in the 1995 Carquest Bowl, before back-to-back Outback Bowl wins over Ohio State in 2001 and 2002.