The Chick-fil-A Bowl today named SEC East Division Champion South Carolina as its SEC representative to face the ACC Atlantic Division Champion Florida State Seminoles Dec. 31 in Atlanta.
The Chick-fil-A Bowl officially extended invitations to both the No. 19 Gamecocks and the No. 23 Seminoles to represent the SEC and ACC in the 43rd annual edition of Atlanta’s bowl game New Year’s Eve in the Georgia Dome. The invitations were accepted by South Carolina and Florida State officials during a conference call this evening.
Florida State and South Carolina have met 18 times dating to 1966, with the Seminoles holding a 15-3 advantage. The two regional rivals have not met since 1991.
“This will be the first time in our history we have been able to match the ACC and SEC runners up in our Bowl,” said Gary Stokan, Chick-fil-A Bowl president and CEO. “The Chick-fil-A Bowl is thrilled to be one of only three non-BCS bowls with two ranked teams competing.”
Florida State (9-4, 6-2 ACC) won three straight games to finish the regular season to win the ACC's Atlantic Division. The Seminoles will bring the ACC’s third-best scoring offense into the game and boast ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year Xavier Rhodes, and Brandon Jenkins who helped FSU lead the ACC in sacks. Christian Ponder, the James Tatum Award winner, was the ACC’s third-most efficient passer and All-America guard Rodney Hudson just won his second straight Jacobs Blocking Trophy.
“I’ve been to the Chick-fil-A Bowl three or four times in my career. They do a phenomenal job,” said FSU coach Jimbo Fisher. “It’s one of the best bowl games you can go to, the way they treat you, the hospitality. Atlanta is a great town and playing in the dome, it's a great environment there and it’s a great atmosphere. We have a great opponent and look forward to that challenge.”
“Everyone – the Florida State players, coaches, staff, alumni and fans – are extremely excited about going to Atlanta for the Chick-fil-A Bowl on New Year’s Eve,” said Randy Spetman, Florida State athletic director. “We have a tremendous alumni base in Atlanta that is ecstatic we are returning to the Bowl for the first time since 1983. It’s going to be a fantastic event and a great way to bring in the New Year. We are really looking forward to the Chick-fil-A Bowl to cap an outstanding season and serve as a launching point for next season as well.”
Florida State has appeared in the Chick-fil-A Bowl twice (1968, 1983) and is 1-1.
South Carolina (9-4, 5-3 SEC) won the SEC East winning five of their past six regular season games. The Gamecocks sport the SEC’s No. 1 rushing defense and lead the conference in sacks. Three of their four losses came to top-ranked Auburn (twice) and Arkansas. Running back Marcus Lattimore comes in at No. 2 in the SEC in scoring (8th nationally) and All-America receiver and Biletnikoff finalist Alshon Jeffery led the SEC in receiving yards per game (106.7).
“We’re excited about returning to Atlanta and playing in the Chick-fil-A Bowl,” said coach Steve Spurrier. “If we’re ever going to win the SEC Championship, we’re going to have to win a game in the Georgia Dome and this gives us another opportunity to play there. Hopefully we’ll play much better than the last time. We will try our best to represent the University of South Carolina in a very positive way.”
“Since I’ve been at South Carolina, our fans have told me time and time again how exciting it would be to have an opportunity to play in the Chick-fil-A Bowl in Atlanta,” said South Carolina Athletic Director Eric Hyman. “This is an opportunity to renew a rivalry with an ACC school in Florida State and a great way to cap what has been a remarkable season of Gamecock Football. I know the folks in Atlanta do a wonderful job with this bowl and will make this a memorable trip for the Gamecocks.”
South Carolina has appeared only once in the Chick-fil-A Bowl (1969) and is 0-1.
The Chick-fil-A Bowl will be played at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 31 in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome and will be nationally televised by ESPN, running unopposed in its prime time slot.