The Huskies (8-5) are 3-1 in bowl games since moving up to Division I-A (now FBS) in 2002. They won their final three regular-season games and overcame the October stabbing death of cornerback Jasper Howard to reach a bowl.
UConn made the most of the trip. The nation's 95th-rated pass defense throttled South Carolina (7-6) and quarterback Stephen Garcia while relying on Dixon's 33 carries to control the ball.
Dixon was the Most Valuable Player and joined teammate Jordan Todman as 1,000-yard rushers, the first time two UConn backs have surpassed that mark in a season.
Garcia completed just 16 of 38 passes for 129 yards while gaining 56 yards on 15 carries.