College Sports

South Carolina to make Belk Bowl debut, face upstart Virginia

The South Carolina Gamecocks will make their first ever appearance in the Belk Bowl this year at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium.
The South Carolina Gamecocks will make their first ever appearance in the Belk Bowl this year at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium. tdominick@thestate.com

South Carolina and Virginia will play at in the 2018 Belk Bowl at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.

The game will be played on Saturday, Dec. 29. Kickoff is 12 p.m., and the game will be nationally televised on ABC.

“We are pleased to welcome South Carolina and Virginia to the 2018 Belk Bowl,” Will Webb, the Belk Bowl’s executive director, said in a statement. “The Gamecocks and Cavaliers have each enjoyed a great season, and they should have an exciting, competitive game on the field. Both teams have tremendous, enthusiastic fans that should make the 2018 Belk Bowl very memorable.”

Despite its close proximity to the Queen City, South Carolina has never previously appeared in the Belk Bowl. The Gamecocks last played in Charlotte in the 2017 Belk College Kickoff game against N.C. State, an eventual 35-28 South Carolina win.

South Carolina will also be playing in the 2019 kickoff game, against North Carolina.

Meanwhile, Virginia is making its second consecutive bowl appearance for the first time since 2004-2005. The Cavaliers lost the Military Bowl 49-7 to Navy last year to finish coach Bronco Mendenhall’s second season 6-7. Previously, Virginia played in the Belk Bowl in both 2002 and 2003, although at the time it was called the Continental Tire Bowl.

Both teams are 7-5, and their paths to this point were somewhat similar. Each team found success against its weaker conference opponents and non-conference foes, but largely struggled against the SEC and ACC elite.

South Carolina played Texas A&M and Florida, two top-25 teams, fairly closely, but had less success against powerhouses such as Georgia and Clemson. Similarly, Virginia beat up on Louisville and Miami, but came up substantially short against N.C. State and Virginia Tech.

The two schools have a long history, but last faced one another in 2003. South Carolina won that game.

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