The SEC and ACC are pitted against each other in the Belk Bowl this year. South Carolina and Virginia will duel it out on Dec. 29. Here is the 2018 Belk Bowl Preview.
South Carolina Gamecocks (7-5)
Will Muschamp got South Carolina to a bowl game for the third straight season. South Carolina beat two bowl-eligible teams in Vanderbilt and Missouri. All of their losses came to teams that were in the top 25 when the two teams played.
South Carolina has the 36th ranked scoring offense in the country at 32.6 points per game. They pass the ball well at 277.4 yards per game (ranked 24th) and run for 162.8 yards per game (ranked 71st).
Jake Bentley has been a revelation at quarterback. The junior has been starting since he was a freshman and has thrown for 2,953 yards, 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions on 63.9% completion. He has two great targets to throw to this year. Wide receiver Deebo Samuel is one of the best in college football. Samuel has tallied 62 receptions, 882 receiving yards and 11 touchdown catches. Bryan Edwards is also a great talent with 52 receptions for 809 yards and seven touchdowns.
Rico Dowdle leads the South Carolina running backs with 633 yards and four touchdowns. A few running backs fill out the backfield with Mon Denson and Ty’son Williams gaining the most yards with 417 and 319 respectively.
They are tied for 65th against as a scoring defense, allowing 27.2 points per game. The Gamecocks give up 194.5 rushing yards (ranked 93rd) and 230.8 passing yards (ranked 66th) per game. Linebacker T.J. Brunson is the leader on defense and has registered 94 total tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and four sacks in 2018.
Virginia Cavaliers (7-5)
Bronco Mendenhall did a fantastic job with Virginia’s program, turning them around in a short amount of time. This season they got to seven wins with three of them coming over bowl-eligible teams (Ohio, Miami, Duke). Their only loss to a below .500 team came at the hands of Indiana.
The Cavaliers are tied for 67th with 28.5 points per game. They rush for 176 yards (ranked 62nd) and pass for 211.9 yards (ranked T-83rd) per game.
Transfer Bryce Perkins has provided a steady hand at quarterback for Virginia. He has passed for 2,472 yards, 22 touchdowns and nine interceptions on 63.8% completion. Three receivers have at least 400 receiving yards. Olamide Zaccheaus leads the team with 81 receptions for 958 yards and six touchdowns.
Jordan Ellis has been the leading rusher for the Cavaliers with 920 yards and nine touchdowns. Perkins is actually the second leading rusher on the team, with no other player being close, at 842 yards and nine touchdowns.
The defense allows 21.8 points per game, which ranks them 28th in the country. They give up 157.1 rushing yards (ranked 54th) and 180.1 passing yards (ranked 14th) per game. Safety Juan Thornhill has been giving quarterbacks trouble with his five interceptions and six passes defended.
Virginia’s defense should be able to keep this close, but their average offense may not be able to keep up with South Carolina. Jake Bentley will have a big game targeting Deebo Samuel and Bryan Edwards.
South Carolina Gamecocks 33 Virginia Cavaliers 24
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