Chick-Fil-A Bowl 2010: The Start To the South Carolina Gamecocks' 2011 Season

DJ BatchlerCorrespondent IDecember 9, 2010

ATLANTA - DECEMBER 4:  Running back Marcus Lattimore #21 of the South Carolina Gamecocks runs with the ball during the 2010 SEC Championship against the Auburn Tigers at Georgia Dome on December 4, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)
Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

The South Carolina Gamecocks football team was thoroughly dominated in the 2010 SEC Championship Game. They need to put that game behind them and not look back. Nothing seemed to go right, and everything seemed to go wrong.

It was not a learning tool or something to build upon. Team discussions on that game should have concluded following the team's first meeting after arriving back in Columbia. You may learn a little from it, but to dwell would be to doom the bowl game and possibly beyond.

The Gamecocks have a date with the Florida State Seminoles in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl on New Year's Eve—an old familiar foe of the head ball coach from his days in Florida. The Seminoles and Gamecocks make for an interesting matchup.

Each team is in the top three in the nation in sacks with Florida State leading and South Carolina third. Each team was the conference runner-up this season, and each team has incredibly talented weapons.

Another thing each team has in common is the feeling, at least among segments of each fanbase, that they were "snubbed" by seemingly bigger bowls. For the reasons mentioned above, it doesn't make sense to some that they're playing on New Year's Eve, while unranked teams are playing after them.

While New Year's Day doesn't have the same resplendence it once had, some bowls carry a bigger cache than others. It is becoming that if your bowl sponsor has national name recognition, it's better than the date. There will be bowls up to the BCS Championship on January 10, which proves there are too many bowls, but that's a different topic for a different time.

The SEC Championship loss likely didn't hurt but probably didn't help the Gamecocks in the recruiting department. Winning a bowl game and reaching 10 wins will help the Gamecocks greatly. The Gamecocks have built a Top 25 recruiting class and could reach the Top 10.

A win on December 31 over Florida State may be the biggest victory over a Florida university, but Urban Meyer stepping down, again, at Florida may also help in recruiting. The Chick-Fil-A Bowl is an unopposed primetime game, but being on New Year's Eve means not too many casual fans will be watching.

It's a big showcase for the recruits watching and visiting the team and for the Gamecocks to show their fans just what could be in store for 2011. Many of those Gamecocks are coming back in 2011: Stephen Garcia, Alshon Jeffery and Marcus Lattimore among the most notable.

The defense will lose a few pieces, and there is depth there, but in the college game a recruit with four or five stars is always welcome. Jadeveon Clowney is the guy atop every list, and the Gamecocks have been in the race since the very beginning.

In September, the Gamecocks kick off their season in Charlotte, North Carolina against East Carolina University. If the Gamecocks and their coaching staff play their cards right, the 2011 season could actually kick off on New Year's Eve. Make a statement for the future, before the future is actually here.