Originally created 12/04/01

Gamecocks' Citrus Bowl date hangs on Vols



If LSU upsets Tennessee in Saturday's Southeastern Conference title game, Georgia and South Carolina could end up fighting for a spot in the Outback Bowl.

The No. 14 Gamecocks, a virtual lock to play Michigan in the Citrus Bowl if the Volunteers win, would be looking for another bowl if the Tigers win Saturday because the Citrus would be forced to take Tennessee.

That leaves the Outback, which gets its pick of SEC teams after the Citrus. The No. 16 Bulldogs have been penciled in to face Ohio State, but the Outback could have a tough decision to make if LSU wins Saturday in Atlanta.

"I don't know who we would take," Outback president and CEO Jim McVay said Monday. "These are two really fine football teams."

Georgia's Outback case would appear to be stronger because South Carolina played the Buckeyes in the game last season. But McVay said he wouldn't be averse to a rematch of the Gamecocks' 24-7 victory.

"Would we take South Carolina back? Sure, we can talk about it," McVay said. "We do not have a rule against a rematch. We're wide open; we really are."

Clemson's bowl hopes were still in limbo Monday afternoon. The Tigers (6-5) were hoping for a bid to the Humanitarian Bowl after having been spurned by the Tangerine Bowl and Silicon Valley Football Classic.

Officials at the Boise, Idaho-based Humanitarian Bowl announced Monday afternoon that Louisiana Tech will be the Western Athletic Conference representative in the Dec. 31 game. The bowl is expected to choose the Tigers or Mississippi as its at-large selection before 2 p.m. today.

"We were led to believe that an at-large bid will be offered (today)," said Clemson assistant athletic director Tim Bourret.

If the Gamecocks (8-3) are shut of the Outback, the next step could be the Dec. 31 Peach Bowl against North Carolina.

Peach Bowl president Gary Stokan said he'll be rooting hard for LSU on Saturday with hopes that the Gamecocks will fall into his game and create a popular matchup at the Georgia Dome.

"That would give us a shot at South Carolina," Stokan said. "Certainly we would love to have South Carolina and North Carolina."

The SEC bowl picture was somewhat clearer this time last year, when the Citrus Bowl announced the week before the SEC Championship that it would take the title game's loser.

That allowed the Outback, which is second in the SEC pecking order behind the Citrus, to arrange a contingency plan: The bowl would take South Carolina if Florida beat Auburn in the SEC title game. Had Auburn won, Florida would have gone to the Outback bowl and the Gamecocks would have been bound for the Peach Bowl.

"I think some of the coaches want to know what the heck is going on," Stokan said.

Officials at the SEC said Monday they don't anticipate arranging a similar agreement this year. McVay said he hasn't heard from anyone about it.

"There are so many variables," he said. "I think we're just going to have to wait until the system plays out."

Reach Larry Williams at (706) 823-3645 or larrywill7@yahoo.com.