Notre Dame beats NCAA odds in Sun Bowl

By: Sports Interaction | Thursday, December 23, 2010
Steve Spurrier

Steve Spurrier and the Gamecocks meet Florida State in Atlanta.

South Carolina is a three-point favorite when the Gamecocks return to Atlanta, scene of their mauling at the hands of Auburn in the SEC Championship game, to face Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

South Carolina is only 1-3 in bowl games in the Steve Spurrier era, and that includes an embarrassing loss to Connecticut – yes, Connecticut – last year. But this year has been the best year South Carolina has had in years, and the best year Spurrier himself has had since he left Gainesville.

Certainly the Gamecocks got stomped by Auburn but they had some really good wins during the year and the SEC title game disaster doesn’t negate those.

Jimbo Fisher had a good year at Florida State and Bobby Bowden is no easy act to follow, but there’s a big question mark over quarterback Christian Ponder and EJ Manuel didn’t really light ‘em up against the Hokies in the ACC title game.

That the SEC is a better conference than the ACC isn’t the Seminoles fault, but the sort of tempering you get in the SEC fires will stand to the Gamecocks and allow the Ol’ Ball Coach to avenge that loss to the Huskies last year. South Carolina minus three against Florida State with Sports Interaction in the Chick-fil-A Bowl is the pick.

Tennessee and North Carolina must be feeling pretty happy to have made it to a bowl, all things considered. Tennessee struggled at the start of the season under new head coach Derek Dooley but the Volunteers pulled themselves together to win their last four games.

North Carolina has operated under a cloud as the NCAA investigated and suspended some players, and everybody involved in the program to feel disappointed at how the season has unfolded. Hard to see the Tar Heels get motivated for this one – Tennessee plus 1½ against North Carolina with Sports Interaction in the Music City Bowl is the NCAAF pick.

One of the most anticipated bowls is the Miami versus Notre Dame Sun Bowl in El Paso. This is mainly due to historical resonance, of course, and those great Hurricane and Irish teams of 20 or more years ago. The current teams aren’t as good, of course, but the Irish are in better shape for this one, chiefly because they didn’t fire their head coach.

Al Golden has been the new coach at Miami but offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland is expected to call the plays against Notre Dame. Miami is better on paper, but the momentum is with the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame plus three against Miami with Sports Interaction in the Sun Bowl is the pick.

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