Previewing the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl: Notre Dame vs. South Carolina
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This is the preview for the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl:
Date: Friday, December 30, 3:00 p.m. ET
TIAA Bank Field (Jacksonville, GA)
Betting splits: 52% of handle, 38% of bets on Soth Carolina +2.5
Like many bowl games, the headline in the Gator Bowl is who isn’t playing instead of who is. Notre Dame will be without a pair of All-Americans: TE Michael Mayer and DE Isaiah Foskey. Mayer was the Irish’s top receiver this season leading the team in receptions (67), receiving yards (809), and receiving touchdowns (9). Foskey finished sixth nationally with 11 sacks on the year. Notre Dame will also be missing QB Drew Pyne, who started 10 games after QB Tyler Buchner got hurt in the second game of the season. Pyne, who transferred to Arizona St., went 8-2 as a starter, completing 64.6% of his passes and throwing 22 touchdowns. Head coach Marcus Freeman announced down in Jacksonville that Buchner, who suffered an AC sprain in his non-throwing shoulder back in September, will be the starting quarterback against South Carolina.
As for South Carolina, unlike Notre Dame, the Gamecocks will have its starting quarterback. QB Spencer Rattler is going to start against the Irish. South Carolina will be without a host of important players though. The Gamecocks' top two leading rushers, RB MarShawn Lloyd and TE/RB Jahiem Bell, both hit the portal and will not play. James Madison transfer WR Antwane Wells Jr. was South Carolina’s leading receiver this season and will be playing in the Gator Bowl. In wins over Tennessee and Clemson, Wells had 20 receptions for 308 yards and two touchdowns. WR Josh Vann has been ruled out due to injury and TE Austin Stogner is transferring back to Oklahoma. RT Dylan Wonnum is headed to the NFL and will not play in Jacksonville. Defensively, DE Gliber Edmond (portal), DT Zacch Pickens (NFL), CB Cam Smith (NFL), CB Darius Rush (NFL), and S Devonni Reed (NFL) will all be out for the Gator Bowl.
The strength for Notre Dame this season was their stable of running backs and offensive line. All three of Irish’s running backs (Audric Estime, Logan Diggs, Chris Tyree) will play in the Gator Bowl and all five starters of the offensive line will play too. South Carolina’s rush defense is 112th nationally allowing 192.4 yards per game and 4.85 yards per carry. In the Gamecocks' last loss back on Nov. 12 to Florida, the Gators rushed for 374 yards.
South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler played his best two games in the final two games of the season. Rattler threw for 438 yards and six touchdowns in the Gamecocks’ 63-38 win over Tennessee. Rattler threw for 360 yards in South Carolina’s 31-30 win over Clemson. Notre Dame’s starting CB Cam Hart, who missed the USC game with a shoulder injury, will be sidelined for the Gator Bowl.
Notre Dame opened as a 5.5-point favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook back on December 5. Within hours, the line had dropped to three points. The total opened at 53 and dropped to 51.5 on December 16.
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