Fortunately for them, they have other good skill players. Perkins ranked second in the ACC this year in total offense, putting up 276.2 yards per game with his arm and his legs.
SC has a veteran quarterback with Jake Bentley, but they are going to miss their most explosive player in Deebo Samuel. But it was the Gamecocks who ate crow. It's the first time since 2006 that Virginia has gone to the postseason in back-to-back campaigns.
South Carolina's highly-touted offense finally came alive late in the third quarter with a 23-yard and 37-yard pass from Bentley. Ellis had 28 of his 58 first half rushing yards on the drive, and Virginia exhausted the Gamecocks' defense by running the ball up the gut towards the end of the drive.
"This is the first step toward making big strides", Perkins said. The Gamecocks didn't accomplish anything on their checklist. SC has been solid in Bowls as of late, as the Gamecocks have won 5 of their last 6 Bowls game, including a 26-19 victory over the Michigan Wolverines in last year's Outback Bowl. "Even when I might not make a play or he might not make a play, it's like, "Who wants it on the next play?' We're the same that way". This time, it was sixth-year senior cornerback Tim Harris coming up with the interception in his last game in a Virginia uniform.
Virginia defensive back Bryce Hall announced he is returning for his senior season after contemplating entering the National Football League draft. SC didn't force many turnovers and was in the bottom half of the league at generating sacks.
The Cavaliers had plenty left and it showed from wire-to-wire. If Virginia can go on long scoring drives and force a few three-and-outs, a exhausted SC defense could wilt in the second half.
"We held them to zero points", Zaccheaus said. The Gamecocks are only a little over an hour away and that should give them a distinct edge for the crowd. "When you get into a 21-0 game against their defense, I knew it was going to be a hard deal". "We wanted to win this game".
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After the defense forced a turnover on the first play of the fourth quarter, SC was, if only technically, still alive. That could be a troubling sign for next season for the Gamecocks, who had come into the game as five-point favorites. "That's what we've been working on here and I think we have a good game plan".
"It wasn't just going, it was winning", Mendenhall said. "They watched USC vs Clemson. They played exactly as they prepared".
Three days after U.Va.'s overtime loss at Virginia Tech in the regular-season finale, Hall met with Mendenhall and Virginia director of player development Pat Hickman.
The Gamecocks are 7-5 after beating Akron 28-3 last week.
"We really don't talk too much about it", Thornhill said.
He threw for 299 yards, none of them bigger than a play made out of desperation when Iowa State had all the momentum. "A bowl victory is significant, especially when you put it in contrast to a year ago, you can't be more striking in this setting". And Mendenhall makes sure they are reminded of what happened with Navy.
"Yeah, maybe we won't be picked last", he cracked.