Florida State (9-4), under first-year coach Jimbo Fisher, is playing for its first 10-win season since 2003. South Carolina (9-4) is looking for only the second 10-win season in school history. The other came in 1984. The Gamecocks, playing their second straight game in the Georgia Dome, will try to make up for a lopsided 56-17 loss to Auburn in the SEC title game. A key matchup is Seminole running backs Chris Thompson, Ty Jones and Jermaine Thomas against the Gamecocks' run defense. FSU topped 200 yards rushing in four straight wins this season, and the trio combined for 11 rushing touchdowns. The Gamecocks rank first in the SEC and ninth in the nation in rushing defense, allowing only 104.3 yards per game. Christian Ponder has 16 touchdown passes for FSU and only one interception in the red zone. The Seminoles lead the series 15-3, having won the past six, including the last meeting, 38-10 in Tallahassee in 1991. South Carolina has lost its past two bowl games under Steve Spurrier, leaving the coach 7-9 in bowl games. He is 5-8-1 all-time against FSU, all coming when he was the coach at Florida. The game always matches ACC and SEC teams, but this is the first time it has had the loser of each conference's championship game.
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Sophomore end Brandon Jenkins has 13 sacks to help Florida State lead the nation with 46. Jenkins, in his first year as a starter, is tied for third in the nation in sacks and leads FSU with 191/2 tackles for loss. South Carolina freshman Marcus Lattimore has 1,198 rushing yards and a school-record 19 touchdowns. He emerged as the Gamecocks' workhorse and yet did not have a fumble all season. He showed how he can dominate a game when he had 40 carries for 212 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Florida. George Rogers is the only South Carolina player to rush for more yards in a season.
No. 23 Florida State vs. No. 19 South Carolina, 7:30, Atlanta, ESPN, 1040-AM