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Jan. 1, 2010

Pep Rally Photo Gallery

Scene Setter

The South Carolina Gamecocks (7-5, 3-5 SEC) out of the Southeastern Conference face the Connecticut Huskies (7-5, 3-4 Big East) out of the Big East Conference in the fourth annual Bowl on Saturday, January 2, 2010. Game time is set for 2 p.m. ET (1 p.m. CT) at Legion Field in Birmingham, Alabama.

The 2010 Bowl will be televised nationally on ESPN with Dave Neal providing the play-by-play, Andre Ware handling the color commentary and Cara Capuano patrolling the sidelines. A trio of former Gamecock greats handle the radio call for the Gamecock Sports Network. Todd Ellis is the play-by-play voice with 2009 SEC Legend Tommy Suggs providing the color commentary, while former NFL standout Terry Cousin works the sidelines. ESPN Radio will also be on hand with Pam Ward and Ray Bentley on the call.

This is the 116th season of intercollegiate football at the University of South Carolina, dating back to 1892. It is the 103rd-consecutive year in which South Carolina has competed on the gridiron. The University did not field a team in either 1893 or 1906. Carolina owns an all-time record of 534-535-44. The school’s only conference championship came in the 1969 season when it posted a perfect 6-0 record to win the Atlantic Coast Conference title under head coach Paul Dietzel.

The Bowl game represents the 10th time in 13 games this season that football fans across the country can watch the Gamecocks live, including seven appearances on either ESPN or ESPN2. CBS, ESPNU and ESPN Classic each carried one contest nationally. Six of Carolina’s eight SEC games were televised nationally.

The Gamecocks have never played in the Bowl, but have played a bowl game in Birmingham. Carolina fell to Missouri by a 24-14 count in the 1979 Hall of Fame Bowl, played at Legion Field in Birmingham. Missouri’s All-Big Eight quarterback Phil Bradley was named the game’s MVP, while South Carolina running back George Rogers was tabbed as the Offensive Player of the Game after rushing for 133 yards on 25 carries.

The 2010 Bowl will mark Carolina’s 15th bowl appearance overall. The Gamecocks are 4-10 all-time in bowl games. They dropped their first eight bowl games, won three straight and now have lost two of their last three bowl contests.

This is the first meeting ever on the gridiron between these two flagship state institutions.

The Gamecocks are 8-10-1 against teams that currently comprise the Big East Conference. Twelve of the 19 previous games against Big East foes have come against West Virginia, with the Mountaineers holding a 7-4-1 advantage. South Carolina is 2-0 against Cincinnati, 1-3 versus Pittsburgh and 1-0 against South Florida. The last meeting between South Carolina and a Big East opponent resulted in a Gamecock 34-3 win over South Florida on September 18, 2004.

This will be the fourth bowl meeting between Carolina and teams currently in the Big East Conference. South Carolina lost a 14-3 decision to West Virginia in the 1969 Peach Bowl, fell by a 37-9 count to Pittsburgh in the 1980 Gator Bowl, then knocked off West Virginia by a 24-21 count in the 1995 Carquest Bowl.

South Carolina will be the Southeastern Conference’s first representative in the Bowl.

The Big East representative has won each of the first three Bowls. South Florida defeated East Carolina, 24-7 in 2006, Cincinnati topped Southern Miss, 31-21 in 2007 and Rutgers outlasted NC State, 29-23 in 2008.

Steve Spurrier is in his fifth season directing the Gamecock football program. He has logged a 35-27 mark in Columbia and is sixth on the school’s all-time wins list and seventh in games coached at South Carolina. He is the first coach to have a career winning record at Carolina since Joe Morrison (39-28-2) patrolled the sidelines from 1983-88. Coach Spurrier owns a 177-67-2 mark as a collegiate head coach, with stops at Duke and Florida before his stint at South Carolina. He recently agreed to a one-year contract extension and is now signed through 2013.

Coach Spurrier tied the school record for wins (7) in his first season at the helm; tied for the most wins (15) in his first two seasons of any Carolina head coach; recorded the most wins (21) by a Carolina head coach in his first three seasons; surpassed Warren Giese for the most wins by a coach in his first four seasons on the Carolina sidelines with 28 and his 35 wins ranks as the high mark for any Gamecock coach in his first five seasons at the helm, surpassing Lou Holtz’s mark of 33. He has logged a .500 or better record in five straight seasons, the first coach to do that at Carolina since Billy Laval turned the trick for seven straight years from 1928-34.

Steve Spurrier has never faced UConn on the gridiron.

Steve Spurrier owns a 3-2 career record against teams currently in the Big East. He is 1-0 against both Louisville and West Virginia, is 1-1 versus Syracuse and is 0-1 against Rutgers. Each of his last two appearances against Big East teams have come in bowl games while serving as the head coach at Florida. He was a 41-7 winner over West Virginia in the 1994 Sugar Bowl, then defeated Syracuse by a 31-10 margin in the 1999 Orange Bowl.

Steve Spurrier sports a 7-8 record in his 15 bowl games as a head coach. He is 1-2 in bowl games while coaching at South Carolina, dropping a 38-31 decision to Missouri in the 2005 Independence Bowl, then getting past Houston, 44-36, in the 2006 AXA Liberty Bowl before falling to Iowa in the 2009 Outback Bowl by a 31-10 margin. His teams have been held under 21 points just twice in his 15 bowl appearances. This is his first trip to the Bowl.

Steve Spurrier is familiar with the settings at historic Legion Field. The bowl game will mark the eighth time he has brought a team to Legion Field. He took the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL into Birmingham for three regular season and one postseason match from 1983-85. His 1989 ACC Champion Duke squad lost a 49-21 decision to Texas Tech in the All-American Bowl. As the head coach at Florida, he brought both his 1992 and `93 teams to the SEC Championship game against Alabama. The Tide won the `92 contest, 28-21, but the Gators captured the 1993 tilt, 28-13.

Head coach Steve Spurrier becomes the first coach in Carolina history to take the Gamecocks to four bowl games. Under Coach Spurrier, the Gamecocks have appeared in the 2005 Independence Bowl, the 2006 Liberty Bowl, the 2009 Outback Bowl and now the 2010 Bowl. Jim Carlen and Joe Morrison both took Carolina to three bowl games during their tenures in Columbia.

Steve Spurrier is one of just four coaches to record 100 or more wins as an SEC coach against SEC competition (he also has three wins against SEC teams while coaching at Duke). Only Bear Bryant (159) and John Vaught (106) have won more regular-season SEC conference games than Coach Spurrier, who is tied with Vince Dooley at 105. “Shug” Jordan and Phillip Fulmer fell just short with 98 wins each.

South Carolina finished the 2009 regular season with a 7-5 record overall including a 3-5 mark in SEC play. The Gamecocks got off to a 5-1 start, including a 16-10 win over No. 4 Ole Miss, and moved to as high as #22 in the Associated Press poll. After dropping four of their next five which included losses to Alabama and Florida, the nation’s top two teams, the Gamecocks rebounded to knock off No. 15 Clemson in the season finale. The Gamecocks were 4-0 in non-conference contests and finished 6-1 in the friendly confines of Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia. Carolina was one of six SEC teams to finish with a 7-5 regular season record.

UConn won three of its first four and four of its first six contests. Like the Gamecocks, they dropped three straight games before rebounding with wins in each of their final three contests, including a double overtime win at Notre Dame. The Huskies five losses came by a total of 15 points, including a two-point loss on the road at undefeated Cincinnati.