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Notre Dame vs. South Carolina, 3:30 ET
For at least one of these teams, it has to be a disappointment and a relief that they’ve even made a bowl game. For the other, I think this was a reasonable expectation for them at the beginning of the season, and now they both have a chance to take down the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl. Let’s examine how Notre Dame and South Carolina matchup in this one.
The Fighting Irish looked like they had no fight in them to start the season. They were lucky to pull out an 8-4 season and make many forget about the abysmal start they had to the season. Okay, losing to Ohio State really wasn’t that big of a deal – they lost by 11, though. Then they followed up that loss the following week, when at home(!) to Marshall who is only known because of a Matthew McConaughey movie. Another home loss to Stanford put them at just 3-3 to start the season. They were able to beat Syracuse and Clemson in back-to-back weeks to regain credibility before losing their last game to USC. If their defense shows up, this should be an easy victory for the Irish. They won’t have their complete pass rush, or tight end, so this could get ugly for Notre Dame.
South Carolina also finished their year 8-4. They had two predictable early season loses to Arkansas and Georgia. Then they took four straight home before losing again to Missouri. The loss to Florida probably is excusable, but I think the way they lost was the worst, dropping it by 32 points. They then went out and embarrassed Tennessee the following week and also beat Clemson on the road. The good news for them is that Spencer Rattler is playing in this game, but their top wide receiver is a bit of a question mark. Additionally, they will be without running back Marshawn Lloyd. If their team was at full strength I think they beat Notre Dame, even if they had their whole squad.
I’m going to back the team with a few less question marks on the roster – that would be South Carolina at +120 to win. At least I know what to expect from Rattler and he should have all day to throw. I won’t say I am as confident in this as I was in some of the other games, but I think the Gamecocks pull this out, this is one of those games that they are expected to play in, Notre Dame players don’t go there thinking this is the best the team will have to offer.
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