ORLANDO, Fla. — It would be easy for both No. 8 South Carolina and No. 19 Wisconsin to dwell on the missteps this season that cost them both spots in the BCS standings.
Instead, Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier and the Badgers’ Gary Andersen are embracing what they believe could be one of the better non-BCS pairings when they matchup for the Jan. 1 Capital One Bowl in Orlando.
“I think we all strived at beginning of the year to get to BCS game, (but) it’s very difficult to do and we won nine football games,” Andersen said. “It’s a tremendous matchup for both teams I think…This is a great bowl game for us for so many reasons.”
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The game will mark the first-ever meeting between the two programs.
The Badgers (9-3) are playing in a non-BCS bowl for the first time in three seasons following three consecutive appearances in the Rose Bowl.
Wisconsin lost those games, though, and will be looking for its first bowl win under Andersen.
The Badgers will be appearing in their 12th-consecutive bowl game, a streak that includes a 3-1 record in four Orlando bowl games.
They climbed as high as No. 15 in the BCS standings, but had their season stunted by early-season losses to Arizona State and Ohio State and loss to Penn State in their regular-season finale.
Andersen said though he doesn’t know Spurrier personally, he is well aware of what kind of opponent to expect when they meet up with the Gamecocks.
“From afar really, I understand what coach has done and the career he’s had. He’s meant a lot to college football for a number of years. He’s had unbelievably successful teams and does again this season,” Andersen said. “It will be special. I don’t think anybody can tell you you’re gonna line up against coach Spurrier and it won’t be a special experience for all of us who are involved.”
South Carolina (10-2) won its final five games of the season, including double-overtime win over then unbeaten Missouri. It helped salvage a season that was beset by a loss to Georgia and loss to Tennessee in a game that saw quarterback Connor Shaw go down with an injury.
The Gamecocks are making their second Capital One Bowl appearance in three seasons, having beaten Nebraska in the 2012 edition of the game.
SEC runner-up Missouri, Oklahoma St in Cotton Bowl
Missouri and Oklahoma State came so close to conference titles and being in the Bowl Championship Series.
The No. 9 Tigers and No. 13 Cowboys, who in the past have been in two leagues together, will instead play each other Jan. 3 in the Cotton Bowl, a pretty nice consolation a day after both missed shots at conference championships.
“Playing in the Cotton Bowl is a great reward for our team,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said Sunday after the matchup was announced. “Certainly you want to be in a BCS bowl because it means you won a conference championship. … This location and venue, this is a great opportunity for the team and our fans.”
After this season’s game, the Cotton Bowl will become part of the annual rotation for semifinal games in the new College Football Playoff. The game is played in the Dallas Cowboys’ massive stadium where the first national championship in the post-BCS era will be held next season.
Oklahoma State (10-2) was on track for a Big 12 title and a spot in the Bowl Championship Series before a 33-24 loss at home to Oklahoma on Saturday.
Missouri (11-2) is coming off a 59-42 loss to Auburn in the SEC championship game in only its second season in that league.
“We know firsthand just how great of a trip this is, and how first-class of an operation the Cotton Bowl runs,” said Missouri coach Gary Pinkel, who is taking the Tigers to their ninth bowl in 13 seasons there.
Mizzou made its SEC debut in 2012 with its first losing season in eight years, and went only 2-6 in league play. The Tigers this season were SEC Eastern Division champions with a 7-1 conference record.
No. 22 Duke-No. 20 Texas A&M in Chick-fil-A Bowl
ATLANTA — Johnny Manziel might play his final college game in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
No. 20 Texas A&M, led by the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner, will face No. 22 Duke in the first-ever meeting between the schools on New Year’s Eve at the Georgia Dome, officials announced Sunday night.
Manziel is a third-year sophomore, making him eligible to enter the 2014 NFL draft. He hasn’t revealed his plans for next season after guiding Texas A&M to a disappointing 8-4 record, with all four losses coming against fellow Southeastern Conference teams ranked among the top 14 in The Associated Press poll.
Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin said Manziel has yet to make a decision on turning pro.
“If he does, he does,” the coach said. “Right now, we’re looking through that and evaluating his future. Then we’ll go from there.”
Duke (10-3) was a surprising division winner in the Atlantic Coast Conference, posting the most wins ever at a school known more for basketball. The Blue Devils are eager to make up for their performance in the league championship game Saturday night, when they were routed by top-ranked Florida State 45-7.
“The invitation to the Chick-fil-A Bowl is the perfect medicine for us,” coach David Cutcliffe said. “To play a team with the reputation and history and tradition they have at Texas A&M, to play the caliber of team they have, it’s going to revive our guys quickly. It didn’t go like we wanted last night, but the nation will be watching this game, so we want to put our best foot forward.”
Manziel will clearly be the star attraction in Atlanta. While Johnny Football is not expected to repeat as the Heisman winner after becoming the first freshman to win college football’s top individual award, he put up another stellar season with 3,732 yards passing and 33 touchdowns, as well as leading the Aggies in rushing with 686 yards and eight TDs.
No. 14 LSU will face Iowa in Jan. 1 Outback Bowl
TAMPA, Fla. — LSU and Iowa will meet in the Outback Bowl, just the second time the Tigers and Hawkeyes faced each other on the football field.
The teams were extended invitations Sunday for the New Year’s Day matchup played at Raymond James Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The only other meeting between the school with rich football traditions was in the 2005 Capital One Bowl in Orlando. Drew Tate threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to Warren Holloway as time expired to give Iowa 30-25 victory.
“We feel these two teams will continue our reputation of putting on an exciting show,” Outback Bowl chairman Ken Hoverman said.
The 14th-ranked Tigers (9-4) are making their first trip to Tampa for postseason action since 1989, when the Outback was known as the Hall of Fame Bowl.
Iowa (8-4) will be making its fourth appearance in Tampa, having last appeared in Outback following the 2008 season when the Hawkeyes beat South Carolina 31-10.
No. 23 Georgia, Nebraska rematch in Gator Bowl
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Georgia and Nebraska are headed back to the Sunshine State to play again.
The Bulldogs and Cornhuskers were paired in the Gator Bowl on Sunday night, setting up a rematch of last year’s Capital One Bowl.
Georgia won that meeting 45-31, getting five touchdown passes from Aaron Murray. The 23rd-ranked Bulldogs (8-4) won’t have Murray in the Jan. 1 rematch. The Southeastern Conference’s all-time passing leader tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee Nov. 23 against Kentucky.
Junior Hutson Mason will make his second start. Mason completed 22 of 36 passes for 299 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception, in a 41-34 win in double overtime against Georgia Tech.
“We think Hutson is going to be a heck of a ball player,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “It’s good that he got a little experience against Georgia Tech.”
Nebraska (8-4) last played in the Gator Bowl in 2009, beating Clemson 26-21.
Music City Bowl pits Mississippi vs. Georgia Tech
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Mississippi Rebels will finish the season in the same place where they started back in August.
The Rebels will play Georgia Tech in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 30 in a pairing announced Sunday night. Ole Miss opened the season beating Vanderbilt a couple miles from LP Field, home of the bowl game. Now the Rebels are back in this bowl for the second time.
“We have one of the great bowl traditions in all of college football, and I’m excited that we have earned a bowl berth in each of our first two seasons,” Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said. “I appreciate the unbelievable support Rebel Nation has provided our team, and I look forward to seeing a sea of Red and Blue in Nashville.”
Ole Miss (7-5) finished on a two-game skid that dropped the Rebels out of the Top 25 rankings. The Rebels played in the BBVA Compass Bowl last season.
This will be the 35th bowl appearance all-time by Ole Miss. The Rebels are 22-12, including last season when Ole Miss beat Pittsburgh 38-17 at the BBVA Compass Bowl in Birmingham, Ala., to cap Freeze’s first season.
The last time Ole Miss played in the Music City Bowl, David Cutcliffe was the coach and Eli Manning was the Rebels’ quarterback. That’s the only bowl the Rebels have lost over the past 10 bowl trips going back to the 1992 Liberty Bowl.
Ole Miss lost 49-38 to West Virginia in their first Music City Bowl. These Rebels have plenty of Tennessee connections starting at quarterback in Bo Wallace, a native of Giles County, and a running back in I’Tavius Mathers from nearby Murfreesboro.
Vanderbilt to play Houston in BBVA Compass Bowl
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Houston will face Vanderbilt in the BBVA Compass Bowl on Jan. 4 at Legion Field.
The bowl game announced the matchup Sunday, the first meeting between the two teams. Vanderbilt is playing in its third straight bowl game for the first time, all under coach James Franklin.
“Four in the last six years,” athletic director David Williams said. “This is becoming a habit. And it will remain a habit for the future.”
Houston, which plays in the American Athletic Conference, is 8-4 and is making its eighth postseason trip in the past 11 seasons. Vandy is also 8-4 and beat Georgia, Florida and Tennessee for the first time in the same season.
The Commodores have posted back-to-back eight-win seasons for the first time since 1927-28 and are 15-4 in their last 19 games. Some 1,500 fans and the Vandy band turned out for the bowl announcement.
Mississippi State to play Rice in Liberty Bowl
The Mississippi State Bulldogs are the pick out of the Southeastern Conference to play Rice in the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31 in Memphis.
Liberty Bowl officials made the announcement Sunday night.
Bowl officials passed over Vanderbilt (8-4) who played in Memphis two years ago.
Picking Mississippi State gives bowl officials a team marking the 50th anniversary of its first game in this bowl. The Bulldogs beat North Carolina State 16-12 in 1963 when this bowl was played in Philadelphia, Pa.
The Bulldogs (6-6) needed overtime to beat Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl to become bowl eligible for a fourth straight season.
Rice (10-3) accepted its berth Saturday after beating Marshall 41-24 in the Conference USA championship game.