Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange

November 27, 2018 at 9:43 pm.

Gamecocks get Akron in make-up game

South Carolina put 35 points on the board against No. 2 Clemson last week, but don’t try to sell coach Will Muschamp on how much impact that could have on the Gamecocks through the offseason.

“We lost the game, that’s the bottom line,” he said of the 56-35 setback to the Tigers. “We went up there to win the football game, and we came back with a loss.

“Other than that, just going back schematically and looking at things you did well and some things you probably would have done differently.”

But it’s not like there weren’t any positives the Gamecocks can take from the experience.

“I do think for some very young players that we have on the field, I think that you can gain some confidence from it,” he said. “And we move forward.”

“Forward” would be to Saturday when the Gamecocks (6-5) host Akron (4-7) in a game scheduled in November to make up for the cancelation of the Sept. 15 contest with Marshall. Marshall wasn’t available because the Thundering Herd already had agreed to play Virginia Tech this weekend in a make-up game.

Akron was available because its season opener at Nebraska was canceled because of extreme weather delays from lightning and thunderstorms.

The game unites Muschamp with one of his former bosses, Terry Bowden, who has been with the Zips since the start of the 2012 season.

“I worked for him in 1995 and 1996 at Auburn,” Muschamp said. “He gave me my first job. I’m certainly appreciative of him for that, and I’m very familiar with their staff and most of the guys there at Akron. They’ll do a good job and play well and coach well.”

The Zips have made two bowl appearances under Bowden, including last year when they lost to Florida Atlantic in the Boca Raton Bowl. They won’t be going bowling this season, but they do own a stunning victory over Northwestern.

The Zips handled the eventual Big Ten West winner 39-34 in Evanston on Sept. 15. The Zips rallied from a 21-3 halftime deficit by outscoring the Wildcats 36-13 in the second half, getting their decisive points on free safety Alvin Wilson’s 50-yard interception return for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter.

“Both safeties, (Jordan) George and Davis are really good players,” Muschamp said. “They do a nice job pressuring the quarterback in the different packages that they have.”