CollegeFootballPoll.com's Dave Congrove, creator of the Congrove Computer Rankings, names the Chick-fil-A Bowl "one of the most intriguing matchups of the bowl season" as it pits South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier against his former arch-rival, Florida State. "Too bad the 'Noles can't invite Bobby Bowden to coach this one for FSU," says Congrove.
The ol' ball coach used to love irritating ex-Florida State head coach Bobby Bowden and anyone associated with the Seminoles. He's the one who said FSU means "Free Shoes U" after it was learned that multiple players were involved in a 1993 buying binge at a Foot Locker, surreptitiously bankrolled by an agent.
Too bad Bowden can't return as head coach for just this one game. Talk about a story.
Spurrier faced the Seminoles at least once every year while he was coaching the Gators from 1990-2001, and as a Gator quarterback from 1964-1966. He was 2-1 vs. FSU as a player and 5-8-1 as a head coach.
In addition to regular season games, they split a pair of Sugar Bowl meetings following the 1994 and 1996 seasons. The latter avenged a 24-21 loss to the Florida State in the regular season with a 52-20 win, providing Spurrier with his only national championship.
Florida State owns a 15-3 series record against South Carolina, but this will be its first meeting against a Spurrier-coached Gamecock team. In fact, the schools haven't played each other since 1991 when they competed as independent programs.
South Carolina hasn't beaten the 'Noles since 1984 and Congrove's computer ranking system says it won't happen this year, either, though it will be extremely close. In fact, it almost doesn't even pick a winner as it gives Florida State a 0.05-point advantage. Yep, that's five one-hundredths of a point.
Both teams exceeded the preseason expectations of those rankings. The computer projected Florida State as a 6-6 team with a 5-3 ACC record. It forecasted South Carolina to go 7-5 overall and 4-4 in the SEC.
Instead, Florida State went 9-3 in the regular season, 6-2 in the ACC, before losing 44-33 to Virginia Tech in the ACC Championship game. Considering that the Hokies were 1-13 against Bowden's FSU squads and are now 1-0 vs. Jimbo Fisher at FSU, there is reason for optimism for South Carolina.
South Carolina was also 9-3 in the regular season, 5-3 in the SEC, before losing 56-17 to Auburn in the SEC Championship game. Half of the Gamecocks' four losses came against the national championship-contending Tigers as they also fell 35-27 at Auburn on September 25th.
South Carolina's other losses came against Kentucky and Arkansas, both of whom are bowl participants. The Gamecocks recorded seven victories over bowl teams by defeating Southern Miss, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida, Troy and Clemson.
Six of Florida State's wins - BYU, Miami (FL), Boston College, Clemson, Maryland and Florida - came against bowl teams. So, too, did its losses to Oklahoma, North Carolina and Virginia Tech.
South Carolina is just 4-11 all-time in bowl games and 1-3 under Spurrier. The Gamecocks enter this contest on a 2-bowl losing streak.
Florida State has won its last two bowl games and its 22-14-2 all-time bowl record ranks No. 6 nationally among teams that have made 20 or more bowl appearances.
The Seminoles are 1-1 in this particular bowl game, but those appearances came at the end of 1968 and 1983 seasons when it was known as the Peach Bowl.
South Carolina lost to West Virginia in its only appearance at Atlanta's postseason classic in 1969. Interestingly, Bowden was an assistant with the Mountaineers at the time and became their head coach the very next season.
The computer is 7-5 in forecasting the winner of Florida State games this season and 9-3 with South Carolina. It is 6-5 against the spread with the Seminoles, but just 4-7 with the Gamecocks. (Such information is tracked for the sole purpose of recording the computer's accuracy in picking games and ranking teams. It is not intended for gambling purposes).
The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN on Friday, December 31 at 7:30 p.m. (ET) from the Georgia Dome, a 71,228-seat indoor facility in Atlanta, Georgia that serves as the home field for the NFL's Atlanta Falcons.
(NOTE: Published capacity has been exceeded on more than one occasion and the Georgia Dome record was set in 2006 when the Chick-fil-A Bowl attendance was announced as 75,406 for the Virginia Tech-Georgia matchup).