Best South Carolina Gamecock Bowl Performances

Gamecock bowl performances

The Gamecocks will head to Jacksonville next week to face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Gator Bowl on Friday. Shane Beamer is taking this program to consecutive bowl appearances in his first two seasons in charge. South Carolina will be looking to win its second straight bowl and seventh in the last nine tries dating back to the 2012 Capitol One Bowl. Before game week starts, let’s look back at the best Gamecock bowl performances throughout the years.

Best Gamecock Bowl Performances

This program finally got its first-ever bowl victory in the 1995 Carquest Bowl, beating West Virginia 24-21. They had lost their previous eight trips to a bowl before Steve Taneyhill and company came home from Miami with the win. Since then, the Gamecock bowl performances have continued to go well, winning nine of the last fifteen opportunities. This season will mark the fifth time the program has played in the Gator Bowl. The last time was in 1987. That matches the five trips to the Outback Bowl as the most to any one bowl in South Carolina’s history.

Best Game – 2013 Outback Bowl vs Michigan Wolverines

This New Year’s Day matchup had a bit of everything. This game is most known for ‘The Hit” by Jadeveon Clowney on Michigan tailback Vincent Smith. That play went viral across both social media and sports television for the next several months. However, this 33-28 Gamecock victory was about much more than one play. This game went back and forth all afternoon, with four lead changes in the final 15 minutes. Ace Sanders had 92 yards receiving and two scores, and also had an electrifying 63-yard punt return for a touchdown. Denard Robinson ran for 100 yards and Jeremy Gallon had a big day catching the ball for Michigan. Connor Shaw aggravated a foot injury on the game’s final drive, setting up the stage for Dylan Thompson to throw the game-winning touchdown pass to Bruce Ellington with just 11 seconds remaining.

Top 5 Individual Gamecock Bowl Performances

  1. Dakereon Joyner – 2021 Dukes Mayo Bowl vs North Carolina Tar Heels

Heading into his first bowl game as a head coach, Beamer was trying to figure out who would lead his offense. Joyner was given a surprise start as the fourth quarterback to begin a game under center during the 2021 season. The North Charleston native did not disappoint. He went 9-9 passing for 160 yards and a touchdown and ran for 64 yards. South Carolina caught the Tar Heels off guard with Joyner playing quarterback. They dominated on the ground with 301 yards on the ground including 182 from Kevin Harris. The Gamecocks won 38-21 to secure a winning record in Beamer’s first season.

  1. T.J. Brunson – 2018 Outback Bowl vs Michigan Wolverines

The linebacker from right here in Columbia led a huge second half defensive charge in which South Carolina forced five turnovers. They rallied from a 16-point deficit to win 26-19. Brunson had 13 tackles including two sacks to help stifle the Wolverine offense. Chris Lammons added nine tackles and recovered a fumble. Jake Bentley threw second half touchdowns to Bryan Edwards and Shi Smith, but it was the defense led by Brunson that carried the day. Steven Montac sealed the win with an interception in the final minutes.

  1. Blake Mitchell – 2006 Liberty Bowl vs Houston Cougars

The junior signal caller had one of his best career games to end the 2006 season. He led the way for not only one of the best Gamecock bowl performances but one of the program’s best offensive days ever. The team racked up over 500 yards in a 44-36 shootout victory over the Cougars. Mitchell had 323 yards and four touchdowns on his way to being named the game’s MVP. Sidney Rice and Kenny McKinley each had over 100 yards receiving. Rice totaled 20 catches for 330 in his two career bowl games. Cory Boyd added 139 total yards for good measure. Mitchell connected on touchdown passes of one and 19 yards in the first half, before hitting McKinley for 43 scores on consecutive drives in the fourth quarter. The defense allowed just eight second half points behind strong play from Casper Brinkley and Jasper Brinkley. The twin brothers combined for 16 tackles and three sacks.

  1. Ryan Brewer – 2001 Outback Bowl vs Ohio State Buckeyes

The Ohio native was not offered by his home state school, and he made them pay on New Year’s Day 2001. South Carolina pummeled the Buckeyes in a 24-7 victory headlined by Brewer’s 201 yards of offense and three touchdowns. The tailback had 109 yards on the ground and added another 92 receiving, leading the team in both categories. A dominant defense allowed just 258 yards, one score, and forced two turnovers. However, it was Brewer who stole the show in one of the more memorable Gamecock bowl performances. The win capped off a miraculous turnaround in Lou Holtz’s second season, going from 0-11 in 1999 to 8-4 during the 2000 campaign. Brewer showed his versatility and toughness all game, rushing the ball, catching passes, and punishing would-be tacklers.

  1. Connor Shaw & Bruce Ellington – 2014 Capitol One Bowl vs Wisconsin Badgers

While this list is about great individual standouts in Gamecock bowl history, these two were both extremely instrumental and must be praised together. Shaw had arguably his finest game in garnet in black. He was a near-flawless 22-25 passing for 312 yards and three scores in the 34-24 victory. Shaw also ran for the game-sealing touchdown in the fourth after catching a touchdown thrown by Ellington in the first half. The receiver also caught two touchdowns of his own as a part of his six catches and 140 yards.  Skai Moore had two of his school record 14 career interceptions on defense. Shaw and Ellington stole the show on this day though, leading the Gamecocks to their 11th win and an eventual #4 ranking in the final AP Poll.

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