CHARLOTTE — Hello from the Queen City, where the best part of Bank of America Stadium is the wall of helmets, a collection of 643 high school football helmets from both Carolinas.
While football players at South Carolina and North Carolina prepared for Thursday night’s Belk College Kickoff this week, officials at the schools added games in Charlotte for 2019 and 2023.
Then there’s the Belk Bowl, an SEC vs. ACC clash scheduled for Dec. 30.
“Maybe we could end up in that,” Gamecocks head coach Steve Spurrier said last week.
If so, it won’t be against North Carolina. The loser Thursday night has a tough crawl to a bowl invitation.
With SEC road games at Georgia, Missouri, Texas A&M and Tennessee and apparently tough home games against LSU and Clemson, the North Carolina game counts as a victory in almost any logical bowl-eligible scenario for South Carolina.
Keep an eye on special teams. That’s where South Carolina — with steady kicker Elliott Fry, punt returner Pharoh Cooper and kick returner Shon Carson — seemingly have an edge.
Bumped into Tony Barnhart, Mr. College Football, at Bank of America Stadium. Prediction? “38-35,” Barnhart said between SEC Network studio assignments. “But I’m not saying which team wins.”
South Carolina 30, North Carolina 24
Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff