FIVE REASONS -- LIBERTY BOWL EDITION
1. Syvelle Newton. I'll hold my paean to Newton for the season in review, but suffice it to say that he is, as even Ron Morris has figured out, one of the most versatile players South Carolina has ever seen. And he might be the most versatile Houston has ever seen on the other sideline.
2. Spurrier wants it. Bad. And it's rare for the Head Ball Coach to not get something he wants.
3. Art Briles. Houston is 0-2 in bowl games since Briles' arrival. That's not exactly the body of work you'd like to say he's not a good bowl coach -- and I wouldn't suggest it based on two games. But it could be the beginning of a trend.
4. Sidney Rice. To even think about being a top 10 draft pick -- and I don't think he will be if he comes out this season -- he needs a huge game. Even so, a season that didn't quite live up to the hype might be motivation enough.
5. Blake Mitchell. He has been red hot since returning to the starting role. He did just about all he could to win against Florida and led the team to victory in Death Valley. Avoid the Blakecisions, and you'll do fine.
1. A less-than-illustrious history. The Gamecocks have won just 25 percent of the bowl games they've played. And that's after back-to-back Outback Bowl wins in 2000-01 and 2001-02.
2. Kevin Kolb. The numbers speak for themselves. 27 TDs. 3 INTs. I don't care if you're playing in the ACC, those are good numbers for a college QB to put up.
3. Art Briles. He's a good coach, no matter what his bowl history might suggest. His offense gained praise from the HBC, which is rare.
4. The crown. Having a conference championship -- and with a 10-win season to boot -- speaks volumes about just how good you are.
5. Hubris. South Carolina can't take this team for granted. Yeah, they're from Conference USA. Yeah, they probably haven't seen a team quite like this before. But that means nothing if a team assumes victory heading in.
PREDICTION: South Carolina 48, Houston 38