TAMPA — As the South Carolina team arrived at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay hotel Wednesday afternoon, the lobby buzzed with activity as coaches and players checked into their home for the next week.
That excitement soon will give way to the reason for this season: playing in Tuesday's Outback Bowl against Michigan. Last season the Gamecocks broke a three-game bowl losing streak with a resounding victory against Nebraska at the Capital One Bowl, and they want to have a strong finish to this season, too.
"You just make sure everybody knows it's a business trip," senior defender DeVonte Holloman said. "We're going to have our fun, but when it's time to work on Michigan at practice, everybody has to come focused and ready to work hard."
Coach Steve Spurrier, believes his players learned something from last year's bowl experience.
"It's a fun trip. We've all learned at South Carolina that it's a lot more fun to win the game," Spurrier said. "We've got a more mature group of guys that will try to really get ready to play the best we can and not treat it like a vacation."
Michigan arrived in Tampa last week, but Spurrier believes a week at a bowl site is enough: "Sometimes a month off affects teams. Hopefully it won't affect ours too much and we'll play pretty close to how we played at the end of the season."
central michigan holds on: Ryan Radcliff threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Cody Wilson with 5:11 remaining to give Central Michigan the lead, and Western Kentucky was stopped on fourth and 2 from the 19-yard line when a field goal would have tied the score in the final minute, giving the Chippewas a 24-21 win in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl in Detroit. Lance Guidry coached the Hilltoppers (7-6) before Bobby Petrino takes over for Willie Taggart, who left this month to become USF's coach. A snowstorm prevented Petrino from attending. Kawaun Jakes broke Justin Haddix's Hilltoppers record with his 51st career touchdown pass. Avery Cunningham blocked a punt to set up the Chippewas (7-6) inside the 30, leading to Wilson's touchdown. Western Kentucky's Antonio Andrews rushed for 119 yards but fell short of the 274 all-purpose yards needed to break the national season record of 3,250 set by Oklahoma State's Barry Sanders in 1988.
georgia: Senior nose tackle John Jenkins, the team's top lineman, will miss Tuesday's Capital One Bowl because of an academic issue. Junior Kwame Geathers will take his place against run-oriented Nebraska.
usc: Max Wittek is likely to start at quarterback in the Dec. 31 Sun Bowl. Matt Barkley hasn't practiced since he sprained a shoulder Nov. 17.
obituaries: Former Michigan State linebacker Reggie Garnett died Tuesday of complications from diabetes at 38. The four-year starter was Big Ten freshman of the year in 1993 and had a team-high 111 tackles in 1995. He had been living in Dearborn, about 90 miles from campus. … Joe Krivak, Maryland's coach from 1987-91, died Tuesday night at 77. He was quarterbacks coach for Bobby Ross in the 1980s, working with Boomer Esiason, Frank Reich and Stan Gelbaugh. After Ross left, Krivak went 20-34-2 as head coach.
basketball: Creighton senior backup guard Josh Jones is quitting basketball because of a heart condition. He fainted before a Dec. 6 game at Nebraska and had surgery to fix an atrial flutter. Doctors have said he needs more procedures.