Gamecocks and Irish Meet in TaxSlayer Gator Bowl Friday
The South Carolina Gamecocks (8-4, 4-4 SEC) will face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-4) in the 78th TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. The game will be played at TIAA Bank Field (67,164) in Jacksonville, Fla., on Friday, Dec. 30, 2022, with kickoff scheduled for 3:30 pm ET.
YOU ARE LOOKING LIVE: ESPN has the national television broadcast with Taylor Zarzour handling the play-by-play, Matt Stinchcomb providing the analysis and Alyssa Lang working the sidelines. The national radio broadcast will be presented by Touchdown Radio, with Frank Frangie and Gino Torretta on the call. Todd Ellis is the play-by-play voice of the Gamecock Radio Network with Tommy Suggs, who is wrapping up his 50th year in the booth, providing the color commentary. Jamar Nesbit patrols the sidelines for the Network.
GOING BOWLING: The Gamecocks are appearing in their 25th bowl game. They own a 10-14 mark in the previous 24 contests. Carolina has posted a 10-6 mark in its last 16 bowl contests after dropping its first eight bowl games. Most recently, the Gamecocks rolled to a 38-21 win over North Carolina in the 2021 Duke’s Mayo Bowl for their sixth win in their last eight bowl appearances.
GOOD TO BE BACK: This will mark the Gamecocks’ fifth trip to the Jacksonville and the Gator Bowl, but the first since 1987. The Gamecocks are still looking for their first Gator Bowl win. South Carolina’s very first bowl game was the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1, 1946, when the Gamecocks dropped a 26-14 decision to Wake Forest. South Carolina also lost the 1980 Gator Bowl to Pittsburgh by a 37-7 score, the 1984 Gator Bowl to Oklahoma State by a 21-14 margin, and the 1987 Gator Bowl to LSU, a 30-13 setback.
WHERE THE GAMECOCKS STAND: The Gamecocks were ranked 19th in the final College Football Playoff Rankings, 20th in the Associated Press poll and 19th in the AFCA Coaches poll. Carolina finished the 2022 regular season on a high note, knocking off a pair of top-10 teams in No. 5 Tennessee, 63-38 and No. 7 Clemson, 31-30, in its last two games. After opening the season with a 1-2 mark, the Gamecocks won seven of their final nine contests, including three over ranked opponents. The Gamecocks are looking to finish the season ranked for the first time since they were No. 4 at the end of the 2013 season.
GAMECOCKS VS. IRISH
The Gamecocks and Irish have met four previous times on the gridiron, but have not faced each other since 1984. Notre Dame won each of the first three meetings – a 13-6 win in Columbia in 1976, an 18-17 victory in South Bend in 1979, and a 30-6 win in Columbia in 1983. The Gamecocks exacted some revenge with a 36-32 win in South Bend during the 1984 season, the last time the two teams met.
SCOUTING THE IRISH: Notre Dame (8-4) finished the regular season ranked 21st in the CFP Rankings, 19th in the A.P. poll and 20th in the Coaches’ poll. After opening the season with a pair of losses and standing at just 3-3 at the midway point, the Irish went on a five-game winning streak before falling to Southern Cal in their regular season finale.
THE HEAD COACH: Marcus Freeman is in his first season guiding the Fighting Irish. He was hired as Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in January of 2021 as part of Brian Kelly’s staff, then was promoted to become the 30th head coach in school history in December of 2021. He is 8-5 overall and 0-1 in bowl games after falling to Oklahoma State in the 2021 Fiesta Bowl.
COMMON OPPONENT: Both South Carolina and Notre Dame can claim a victory over Clemson this season, the only two losses the Tigers suffered in 2022. Notre Dame handed Clemson a 35-14 setback in South Bend on Nov. 5, then the Gamecocks upset the Tigers in Clemson by a 31-30 score in the regular-season finale to capture the Palmetto Bowl.
THE LAST TIME THEY MET: South Carolina stunned Notre Dame, 36-32, in South Bend on Oct. 20, 1984, achieving its best start in the school’s history with a 6-0 record. The loss dropped Notre Dame to 3-4 and marked the first time since 1956 that the Irish had lost three-consecutive home games. Mike Hold played most of the second half at quarterback in relief of Allen Mitchell, and led the Gamecocks from a 12-point deficit. Hold hit 5-of-9 passes for 67 yards, and ran 15 times for 72 yards. Notre Dame held a 26-14 lead, but Hold rallied South Carolina with a 63-yard drive topped by a 1-yard scoring run and a Kent Hagood 2-point conversion, cutting the lead to 26-22 with 14 minutes to play. Five minutes later, Hold dropped back to pass, evaded the rush and ran 33 yards up the middle behind a block by the wide receiver Eric Poole for the touchdown and a 29-26 lead. A 4-yard touchdown by Quinton Lewis after a Notre Dame fumble stretched the lead to 36-26.
STATE CONNECTIONS: South Carolina’s redshirt junior linebacker Bam Martin-Scott hails from Fort Wayne, Ind. where he played at Snider High School. Notre Dame features one player from the Palmetto State. Freshman linebacker Jaylen Sneed is from Hilton Head Island and played at Hilton Head High School.
THE HOLTZ FACTOR: College Football Hall of Fame coach Lou Holtz coached both Notre Dame and South Carolina. He led the Irish from 1986-1996, posting a 100-30-2 record. He took the Irish to bowl games in nine consecutive seasons, while his 1988 squad went 12-0 and won the national championship. Holtz came out of retirement in 1999, taking the reins at South Carolina. His first team was winless, but his second squad went 8-4 and won the Outback Bowl over Ohio State, earning him National Coach of the Year honors. He coached the Gamecocks through the 2004 season, posting a mark of 33-37.
DID YOU KNOW?: Shane Beamer is actually 2-0 as the head coach in bowl games. He served as Virginia Tech’s acting head coach in the 2014 Military Bowl win while his father, Frank Beamer, watched from the press box following throat surgery. The Hokies posted a 33-17 win over Cincinnati that day. The game was held on the campus of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
A South Carolina win over Notre Dame would…
* Give the Gamecocks a school-record fourth win over a ranked opponent this season. Carolina has already defeated No. 5 Tennessee, No. 7 Clemson and No. 13 Kentucky in 2022.
* Give the Gamecocks a nine-win season for the first time since 2017.
* Guarantee the Gamecocks a top-25 finish in the national polls for the first time since the 2013 season when they finished fourth in the AP poll.
* Give the Gamecocks their seventh bowl win in their last nine bowl appearances.
* Give the Gamecocks their 11th bowl win in 25 bowl games.
* Give the Gamecocks a three-game winning streak to end the season for the first time since 2013 when they won the final six games of the campaign.
* Make Shane Beamer the first coach in Carolina history to lead his team to a bowl win in each of his first two seasons.
* Give Shane Beamer his 16th win as the Gamecocks’ head coach, the most wins recorded by Carolina coach in his first two seasons.