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Dec. 27, 2006

The South Carolina Gamecocks (7-5) worked out for nearly two hours at the Rhodes College fields on Tuesday afternoon as they continued their preparations for Friday’s AutoZone Liberty Bowl matchup with the Houston Cougars (10-3). Game time is set for 3:30 p.m. CT (4:30 p.m. ET) on Dec. 29 at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.

Defensive end Eric Norwood sat out of the practice due to illness.

After working out in the chilly Memphis air, the Gamecocks moved indoors, spending a couple of hours at Jillian’s as part of the team welcome party. The Gamecocks and Cougars played video games, pool and bowled in the three-level amusement zone.

Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier posed for pictures with Houston coach Art Briles and addressed the media at Jillian’s:

“We are excited to be here. We at one time were 5-5. We beat Middle Tennessee then were fortunate to beat Clemson in a game that could have gone either way. Hopefully, we’ll play our best game of the year on Friday.

“This is the first time at the Liberty Bowl for me. South Carolina has been here before, but has never won it. We’re going to try our best to try to win one here. I think it will be a heck of a game Friday afternoon.

“I congratulate Coach Briles and the Houston team as conference champs. That’s our goal. When I took the job at South Carolina, that was our main goal right there, to win our conference championship. If you don’t win the conference championship, that is the best you can do. They get to order the ring. Hopefully we can do that real soon.

“Our defense has played pretty well this year. We’re a better team than last year. The key is stopping them at the right time. We’ve done a good job of not giving up a lot of points.

“Bowl games are a little different. You try to enjoy the city you’re going to and take in all the sights, but you still prepare to play the best you can. That’s what we’re trying to do.

“(Houston) can also run the ball. They don’t just get back there and throw it all the time. They run different types of plays that opponents don’t see every week. Hopefully we’ll have a chance to stop them a little bit. They’re going to make some yards, but we’ll try not to give up the big plays and a whole bunch of points. It’s a different kind of offense.”

Both teams will take part in the awards luncheon on Wednesday from noon to 2 p.m. The Gamecocks will then head back to Rhodes College for a practice, scheduled for 3:15 – 4:45 p.m. In the evening, some of the Gamecocks will attend the Memphis Grizzlies – Milwaukee Bucks NBA game, while others will attend a rodeo.