After much of the college football playoff drama was eliminated on Saturday, all that was left was to hand out the bowl bids on Sunday. And for the first time, all three of the FBS programs in South Carolina will be going bowling in the same season.
First to learn its destination was Coastal Carolina. After wrapping up the regular season at 10-2, the Chanticleers will make a return trip to Orlando, Florida for the Cure Bowl on December 17th against Northern Illinois. Last season, CCU lost to Liberty 37-34 in overtime at the Cure Bowl.
“We are excited to be returning to the Tailgreeter Cure Bowl this season, the same place we made history last year with our program’s first-ever postseason bowl appearance. Our team is excited to represent our conference once again on a national level, and to play on the field together as a team one more time this season,” commented Coastal Carolina head football coach Jamey Chadwell in a media release. “Other than the outcome, we enjoyed our time in Orlando at the Cure Bowl last year. And this year, I’m so excited that our players, coaches, and staff will get the opportunity to experience the full bowl experience after not getting the chance last year due to COVID-19. We are excited, ready to get back to work, and looking forward to this next opportunity in a highly-regarded bowl that supports a great cause in the great city of Orlando.”
Northern Illinois is 9-4 overall, which includes a season-opening road win at Georgia Tech. The Huskies finished 6-2 in Mid-American Conference (MAC), winning the MAC West Division title. They claimed the league championship with a 41-23 victory over Kent State on Saturday at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. The bowl game will be the first ever meeting between CCU and NIU in football.
Clemson will also be traveling to Orlando to square off with Iowa State at the Cheez-It Bowl on December 29th. At 9-3, the Tigers will enter the Cheez-It Bowl in search of their 11th consecutive 10-win season. A victory would tie Clemson Head Coach Dabo Swinney (10-7 career bowl record) with Bobby Bowden for the most bowl victories in conference history, as 11 of Bowden’s 21 career bowl wins came during Florida State’s membership in the ACC.
The bowl berth extends Clemson’s school-record bowl streak to 17 years, the longest streak in the ACC and the fifth-longest streak in the country. Clemson’s 17-year streak dates to its Champs Sports Bowl win against Colorado in Orlando to close the 2005 season. Though Clemson did not make a bowl appearance in 2004, Clemson has been bowl eligible in 23 consecutive seasons, dating to a 1999 appearance in the Peach Bowl.
The contest will mark the first meeting between the Tigers and Cyclones. Clemson has won four of its last five games against Big 12 opponents, including postseason victories against Oklahoma in 2014 and 2015 in Clemson’s last two contests against Big 12 foes.
Cheez-It Bowl Press Conference — Matt Campbell and Dabo Swinney
South Carolina will actually stay a little closer to home as the Gamecocks will travel to Charlotte for the Duke’s Mayo Bowl on December 30th against North Carolina.
The Gamecocks are no stranger to playing in Bank of America Stadium, as this will be their sixth appearance in the Queen City since 2011. USC is 3-2 when playing in Charlotte, with four of the games being in a season opener and the other coming during the bowl season. Carolina defeated East Carolina (2011), North Carolina (2015) and NC State (2017) in season lid-lifters, before falling to Virginia in the 2018 Belk Bowl and to the Tar Heels in the 2019 opener when they played in back-to-back games at BOA Stadium.
The Gamecocks own a 9-14 record in bowl games, with wins in five of their last seven after dropping their first eight bowl trips. North Carolina owns a 15-20 record in 35 previous bowl appearances. They have lost four of their last five postseason contests.
This will be the 59th all-time meeting between these bordering state’s flagship institutions. North Carolina leads the all-time series by a 35-19-4 margin, including a 3-1 mark when playing at a neutral site. However, the Gamecocks have won three of the last four and six of the last eight gridiron meetings between the two schools. Only Clemson (118 all-time meetings) and Georgia (74) have played more games against the Gamecocks than have the Tar Heels.