That South Carolina's pursuit of a third straight bowl victory isn't much of a Capital One Bowl storyline shows how far the Gamecocks have come. Entering 2011, the program record for wins in a single season was 10.
With a victory over Wisconsin on New Year's Day in Orlando, the Gamecocks will finish 11-2 for the third year in a row.
Which is one of the reasons why the 1995 Carquest Bowl still ranks No. 1 among South Carolina bowl wins.
This winter victory stuff wasn't always so easy, so expected, such a regular part of holiday fare for Gamecock fans.
South Carolina started 0-8 in the postseason before the big breakthrough in Miami.
Ranking the Gamecocks' five best bowl wins:
1. 1995 Carquest Bowl
Brad Scott's first season as head coach included a dominant performance at Clemson (33-7), and strange glory at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami. Charismatic quarterback Steve Taneyhill threw for one touchdown, ran for another and was named MVP of a 24-21 victory over West Virginia.
Reed Morton's 47-yard field goal in the first quarter gave South Carolina a 10-0 lead, and got bigger as the game went on.
2. 2001 Outback Bowl
Ohio State was a six-point favorite, but Ohio native Ryan Brewer was the MVP on a sunny day in Tampa as South Carolina rolled to a 24-7 victory. The Gamecocks' sophomore running back scored three touchdowns, rushed for 109 yards and caught three passes for 92 yards.
South Carolina, 0-11 one season earlier, finished 8-4 in its second year with Lou Holtz as head coach.
3. 2012 Capital One Bowl
Nebraska head coach Bo Pelini actually insisted the better team didn't win soon after South Carolina put the finishing touches on a 30-13 victory that featured a little bit of everything: Kenny Miles ran for two touchdowns, Connor Shaw hit Alshon Jeffey with a 51-yard touchdown pass as time expired in the first half and cornerback Stephon Gilmore returned a blocked extra point attempt for two points.
Jadeveon Clowney and Melvin Ingram led the Gamecocks on a six-sack binge that kept quarterback Taylor Martinez and the Cornhuskers at bay.
4. 2002 Outback Bowl
Back-to-back wins over Ohio State in Tampa - this one over a Jim Tressel-led program that went on to win the national championship a year later. The Gamecocks had to hold on, winning 31-28 thanks to Daniel Weaver's 42-yard field goal with no time remaining.
Ohio State dug out of a 28-0 hole. The Buckeyes had momentum. They were driving.
But Sheldon Brown's interception of a Steve Bellisari pass set up Weaver's heroics.
5. 2013 Outback Bowl
Really, there was more to a 33-28 victory over Michigan than Clowney's signature moment. Sure, the Gamecocks defensive end knocked Vincent Smith's helmet off, forced a fumble and recovered the ball to set up a Shaw touchdown pass to Ace Sanders.
But Michigan grabbed the lead back after that, requiring Dylan Thompson to rally South Carolina; his 32-yard touchdown strike to Bruce Ellington came with 11 seconds remaining.
With the victory, South Carolina improved to 6-12 in bowl games, 3-4 under Steve Spurrier.
USC's 5 worst bowl losses
Year/Bowl Score Notes
1. 1980 Gator Bowl Pittsburgh, 37-9 First snap: George Rogers fumbles
2. 2010 Papajohns.com Bowl UConn, 20-7 USC didn't seem interested
3. 1988 Liberty Bowl Indiana, 34-10 Gamecocks wimped out in the cold
4. 2009 Outback Bowl Iowa, 31-10 4 Stephen Garcia first-half turnovers
5. 1984 Gator Bowl Oklahoma St., 21-14 10-win Gamecocks couldn't finish
Coming Thursday: Clemson's 5 best bowl wins (and 5 worst bowl losses)
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff
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