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Dec. 26, 2008

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The University of South Carolina football squad arrived safely in Tampa on Friday afternoon. The Gamecocks (7-5) will face the Iowa Hawkeyes (8-4) in the 23rd annual Outback Bowl on January 1.

Outback Bowl officials extended a special welcome to both squads Friday night during the first official bowl event of the week at the Outback Steakhouse Team Welcome Dinner. Teams were treated to a feast from Outback Steakhouse while bowl representatives welcomed the players and presented gifts to the head coaches, athletics directors and their wives.

And a feast it was as the teams devoured more than 5,500 pounds of food including 750 pounds of steak, 750 pounds of chicken, 900 pounds of ribs, 700 pounds of bleu cheese wedge salad, 200 pounds of green beans, 950 pounds of Bloomin Onions, 1,300 pounds of cheesecake, 85 gallons of barbecue sauce and 60 cases of soda and water.

The Gamecocks will begin their final week of preparation at Jefferson High School on Saturday, with practice scheduled from 11:30-1:30. After the practice, several players will visit St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. Saturday’s events will conclude with the squad attending the Tampa Bay – Florida National Hockey League game at St. Pete Times Forum.

The Outback Bowl will kickoff at 11 a.m. on New Year’s Day in Raymond James Stadium.