University of Miami

University of Miami to play South Carolina in Duck Commander Independence Bowl

Citing the benefits: Al Golden said the bowl will give the Canes ‘valuable practice time and postseason experience.’
Citing the benefits: Al Golden said the bowl will give the Canes ‘valuable practice time and postseason experience.’ Miami Herald Staff

The Miami Hurricanes are headed to Shreveport, Louisiana, in an attempt to turn their season in the right direction — and end their four-game bowl losing streak.

The Hurricanes (6-6, 3-5 Atlantic Coast Conference), who haven’t won a bowl game since 2006, will face Steve Spurrier’s South Carolina Gamecocks (6-6, 3-5 Southeastern Conference) in the Duck Commander Independence Bowl at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 27.

The game will be televised on ABC.

“We are thrilled for the opportunity to compete against a program with the tradition and talent of South Carolina,’’ UM coach Al Golden said in a prepared statement, noting that the bowl will give UM “valuable practice time and postseason experience.’’

The matchup didn’t do much to excite the fan base, including ACC Digital Network analyst Clinton Portis, a former star tailback for the Hurricanes.

“This is not a bowl that the University of Miami should be excited about because we expected more,’’ Portis said. “But having the opportunity to go up against Steve Spurrier and the South Carolina Gamecocks is always great. You get to measure yourself to see where you are with your talent.’’

Portis added that it would be “sort of a sad occasion’’ because he believes, like most, this will be record-breaking UM running back Duke Johnson’s last game before he likely leaves early for the NFL.

“But you look forward to the future,’’ Portis said, “and the future is [quarterback] Brad Kaaya.’’

The Hurricanes lost their last three games of the regular season, and need a victory in Shreveport to prevent their first losing season since they finished 5-7 in 2007.

Miami is 8-5-2 all-time against the Gamecocks since they first played in 1936. UM has won the past six games in the series, including the last time the teams met in 1987, when the second-ranked Canes defeated No.8 South Carolina 20-16.

The Gamecocks were highly touted coming into 2014, but in the end, like UM, disappointed. They have won their past three bowls — against Wisconsin last season, Michigan (2012 season) and Nebraska (2011).

UM last defeated a Spurrier-coached team, the Florida Gators, in the Sugar Bowl after the 2000 season.

Offensively, South Carolina is led by quarterback Dylan Thompson (3,280 yards, 24 touchdowns, 11 interceptions), running back Mike Davis (927 yards, nine touchdowns) and receiver Pharoh Cooper (966 yards, eight touchdowns).

The Gamecocks are ranked 30th nationally in total offense (450 yards per game), 20th in passing (281.4), 58th in rushing (169.4) and 36th in scoring.

They are not nearly as adept defensively, ranking 90th in total defense (433.6 yards allowed per game), 107th against the rush (214.4), 51st against the pass (219.2) and 91st in scoring defense (31.2 points).

Gamecocks linebacker Skai Moore, who is from Cooper City and played at University School, leads the team in tackles with 82 and has three interceptions.

The Canes last won a bowl game eight years ago against Nevada in the MPC Computers Bowl in Boise, Idaho. They have never played in the Independence Bowl, but played at the stadium and defeated Louisiana Tech there to begin the 2003 season.

South Carolina lost to Missouri 38-31 at the Independence in 2005.

Jerry Palm, CBS.com’s “bracketologist’’ and bowls expert, was not impressed with the matchup.

“There’s no rivalry, no buzz — just a couple of teams trying to find a scrap at the end of the year to take them into next season,” Palm told the Miami Herald.

For UM, that might be enough for now.

Among the Canes who tweeted in anticipation of the matchup was senior quarterback Ryan Williams.

“At least I get to end my college career where I started life,’’ tweeted senior quarterback Ryan Williams. “See you soon Shreveport. #Homecoming.’’

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