South Carolina Gamecocks

Skai Moore
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Back for Moore: South Carolina LB Skai Moore to return in 2017

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After missing the entire 2016 season due to a herniated disk in his neck, South Carolina linebacker Skai Moore will return to the field in 2017 to play for the Gamecocks. It was previously expected Moore would be back for the 2017 season, but The State has confirmed and reported that is still the plan ahead of spring football in Columbia.

Moore’s 2016 season was over well before the first kickoff of the season when Gamecocks head coach Will Muschamp announce din late May updated his status. Moore had aggravated a previous herniated disk from the 2015 season during a weight room session in the spring. Muschamp said the injury was not career-threatening and said at the time was for Moore to be back in 2017. Despite being eligible to take his game to the next level, Moore deciding to return for one more season is probably the best bet all around as he will be given a chance to prove he is back and ready to contribute to any scouts who may be paying close attention.

Moore was South Carolina’s leading tackler from 2013 through 2015 and recorded 110 tackles as a junior in 2015, earning him All-SEC honors.

The 2017 season will be Moore’s final year of eligibility.

Alabama opens as Bovada’s early 2017 title favorite

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09:  Quarterback Jalen Hurts #2 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates after throwing a 68-yard touchdown pass during the third quarter against the Clemson Tigers in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Alabama may have seen their dynasty temporarily derailed Monday night in Florida, but at least one wagering establishment expects Nick Saban to get it back on track post-haste.

Bovada.lv released its opening set of 2017 national championship odds very early Tuesday afternoon, with the bookmaker installing Bama as a 4/1 favorite coming off the loss to Clemson.  Last year at this time, coming off their fourth title in seven years, the same book had the Crimson Tide as a 7/1 favorite.

The team ‘Bama beat, Clemson, is at 16/1, tied with ACC Atlantic rival Louisville and behind six other teams besides the one they beat on the field last night — Florida State (7/1), Ohio State (15/2), Michigan (9/1), Oklahoma (9/1), USC (9/1) and LSU (12/1).  The other 2016 playoff team, Washington, is at 40/1, the same as 4-8 Notre Dame and behind the likes of Texas (28/1) and Miami (33/1).

Boise State, at 75/1, was the highest favorite amongst Group of Five programs.

Below are the complete list of 2018 title odds for the championship following the 2017 season, again courtesy on Bovada.lv:

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Third-leading rusher among three leaving South Carolina

COLUMBIA, SC - NOVEMBER 22:  David Williams #33 of the South Carolina Gamecocks gets away from Desmond LaVelle #34 of the South Alabama Jaguars during their game at Williams-Brice Stadium on November 22, 2014 in Columbia, South Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
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It’s not for early entry into the 2017 NFL draft as has been the case for most programs of late, but South Carolina has seen a trio of players leave Will Muschamp‘s football team.

The university confirmed Wednesday that running back David Williams, wide receiver Jamari Smith and defensive back Jasper Sasser “have elected to forego their final year of eligibility at South Carolina and will not return for their senior season in 2017.” Smith graduated last month while the other two are on track to graduate in May.

The manner of their departures means all three would be eligible to play at another FBS program in 2017 if they so choose.  The upcoming season will be the last for each member of the trio.

“We appreciate their contributions to the program and wish them the best in the future,” the head coach said in a portion of his statement.

Williams’ 239 yards rushing and three rushing touchdowns were third on the team and tied for third, respectively, this season.  He also had nine receptions for 72 yards coming out of the backfield.

The Philadelphia high school product, who started six games the last three years, finished the USC portion of his career with 794 yards and five touchdowns on 187 carries as well as 27 catches and 264 yards receiving.

Smith didn’t have a catch during his time with the Gamecocks, although he did carry the ball 16 times for 114 yards and a touchdown.  Sasser played in a total of nine games, with most of that action coming on special teams.

USF survives in OT, holds off South Carolina in wild Birmingham Bowl

South Florida quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) dives in for a touchdown past South Carolina linebacker Bryson Allen-Williams (4) during the first half of the Birmingham Bowl NCAA college football game, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2016, in Birmingham. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
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South Florida had already set a school record for wins in a season.  Thursday, the Bulls added to it.  Barely.

Trailing 29-14 in the first half of the 11th annual Birmingham Bowl, South Carolina (6-7) roared its way back to tie the game late but its USF that will head back to the Sunshine State with a wild 46-39 win, its fifth in a row to close out the season.  The win was the 11th for the Bulls in 2016, setting a school record.  This year, the 20th anniversary of the first season in the football program’s history, was also the first time they’d reached double-digits in wins, with the previous high being nine wins accomplished on three occasions, the last coming in 2007.

The win was also the Bulls’ first in a bowl game since 2010.  It didn’t come easy, though.  At all.

With the Bulls up 39-21 late in the third, an Elliott Fry field goal cut the Gamecocks’ deficit to 15.  A little over five minutes into the fourth, a Jake Bentley touchdown pass sliced USF’s lead to 39-31.  With an offense that was dominant in the first half suddenly stagnant, the Gamecocks got the ball back again with 6:33 left in the game.  Five plays later they were at the USF 8-yard line; on the sixth play, A.J. Turner appeared headed for what, with a two-point conversion, could’ve been the game-tying touchdown run but fumbled the ball back to the Bulls a yard short of the goal line.

Forcing a Bulls punt from their own end zone after three plays netted next to nothing, Chris Lammons returned a punt that was initially ruled a touchdown but, upon further review, was placed at the two-yard line.  Three plays later, a Turner one-yard run left the ‘Cocks a two-point conversion away from tying the score; a Bentley pass to Hayden Hurst was complete to knot the score at 39-all and send it to overtime.

Quinton Flowers, dominant in the first half but bothered by injury in the second, hit Elkanah Dillon from 25 yards out on the first play of extra time to give the Bulls back the lead.  Facing a fourth down on their first possession of overtime, a strip-sack of Bentley recovered by the Bulls ended the Gamecocks’ comeback hopes.  It was USC’s third red-zone turnover of the game.

Flowers finished the game with five touchdowns — three rushing, two passing — and 366 yards of offense.  He led the team in rushing with 105 yards.

Despite the loss, the future, especially at the quarterback position, certainly looks bright for Will Muschamp & Company.

Bentley finished the game 32-of-43 passing for 390 yards and three touchdowns.  He did, though, throw two interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown in the third quarter.  Sophomore wide receiver Deebo Samuel was on the receiving end of 14 of those completions and 190 of the yards.

The loss drops the SEC to 1-3 this bowl season, one year after going 9-2.

 

Quinton Flowers’ legs push USF to lead on South Carolina in Birmingham Bowl

This Nov. 19, 2016 photo shows South Florida quarterback Quinton Flowers (9) looking on from the sidelines during the second half of an NCAA college football game against SMU in Dallas. South Carolina will face South Florida on Thursday in the Birmingham Bowl. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
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Through the first two quarters of play in the Birmingham Bowl, South Carolina is getting a healthy taste of Lamar Jackson Lite.

In the first 30 minutes of what is a 29-14 halftime lead for USF, Quinton Flowers did an uncanny impression of the reigning Heisman winner, accounting for all four of the Bulls’ touchdowns and 267 yards of total offense.  Three of those scores and 67 of the yards came on the ground, which is not surprising as Flowers’ 1,425 yards rushing this season was second to Jackson’s 1,538 amongst FBS quarterbacks.

The junior also completed 18-of-22 passes for 200 yards.

Also nearly perfect was Flowers’ Gamecocks counterpart, Jake Bentley, who was as impressive in the passing portion of the game as the USF quarterback was in the running/passing phases.  The true freshman completed 15 of his 19 passes in the half — after missing on his first two attempts — for 198 yards and both of USC’s touchdowns, a 25-yarder to Hayden Hurst early in the second quarter that temporarily brought the ‘Cocks to within one score and a second, with 1:12 left in the second quarter, that again brought them to within eight –temporarily, as it turned out again, as Flowers connected with D'Ernest Johnson on fourth down on a 37-yard touchdown pass with :07 left in the half.

South Carolina will receive the kickoff to open the second half.