Dec. 9, 2001

Tampa, FL – For the first time in it’s 16 years the Outback Bowl will feature a rematch from the previous years game when the No. 14 University of South Carolina Gamecocks square-off against No. 22 Ohio State in Raymond James Stadium on New Year’s Day. The Gamecocks won last years battle 24-7. The game will be telecast on ESPN TV.

It will also be the first time in the bowls history that any team has played in the game in consecutive years. The Buckeyes and Gamecocks both boast the second best scoring defenses in the Big Ten and SEC respectively. Both teams also have plenty of offensive weapons as well including Ohio State’s Jonathan Wells who rushed for 1,237 yards and 15 TDs and the Gamecock tandem of backs Derek Watson and Andrew Pinnock who combined for 1,162 yards and 15 TDs.

“We are extremely pleased to have these two great programs back for a rematch,” stated Outback Bowl Team Selection Chairman. “The South Carolina and Buckeye teams and fans were tremendous last year and we look forward to showing them another great time in the Tampa Bay area.”

“We’re excited about returning to a bowl game in which we had a terrific experience last year,” said South Carolina Coach Lou Holtz. “Going up against Ohio State will be a challenge. They have a great football team. Our fans are excited about returning to the Tampa Bay area. Their experience last year was outstanding and their looking forward to returning.”

The 2002 Outback Bowl leads-off the New Year’s Day bowl lineup once again with an 11A.M.(ET) kickoff. A limited number of tickets to the Outback Bowl are still available at Ticketmaster outlets throughout Florida, via phone at (813) 287-8844 and Online at Tickets are also available through the South Carolina Ticket Office at 800-4SC-FANS or 803-777-4274, and the Ohio State Ticket Office at 800-GO-BUCKS.

WE MEET AGAIN: For the first time in it’s 16 year history the Outback Bowl will host the same match-up in back-to-back years. In fact, it will be the first time any team has returned to the bowl in consecutive games. And despite playing football for more than a century this will be only the second meeting between South Carolina and Ohio State. The Gamecocks won last years meeting 24-7.

SOUTH CAROLINA TRADITION: Completing their 108th season of football the Gamecocks have compiled a 483-488-44 overall record. This is the 11th bowl appearance for South Carolina and Coach Lou Holtz was named SEC and National Coach of the Year in 2000. RB George Rogers won the Heisman Trophy in 1980.

SOUTH CAROLINA IN 2001: The Gamecocks come into the bowl with an 8-3 record and ranked 14th in both the AP and ESPN / USA Today Poll. USC leads the SEC in turnover margin and ranks second in five categories: Scoring Defense, Passing Defense, Rushing Offense, Sacks Allowed, and Field Goals conversion. They are also ranked third in Total Defense and First Downs Allowed.

The Gamecock offense relies on a balanced attack featuring the running tandem of Derek Watson (128 rushes for 591 yds., 5 TDs) and Andrew Pinnock (103-573 yds., 10 TDs). QB Phil Petty directs the passing game completing 145 of 251 passes for 1,699 yds. and 10 TDs while throwing just 6 interceptions. His top receivers are Brian Scott (40 catches, 647 yds., 4 TDs) and Ryan Brewer (35 receptions for 335 yds., and 2 TDs). Watson was also a popular target with 23 receptions for 181 yards.

The defense is led by S Rashad Faison and LB Kenny Harney with 54 tackles each. Faison also registered a team leading 9.5 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. All-American LB Kalimba Edwards was a force again this season with 49.5 tackles but will miss the bowl game with a season ending injury. DB Sheldon Brown was named first team All-SEC along with Edwards after notching 35 tackles, 2 interceptions and breaking up 8 passes.

OHIO STATE TRADITION: This is the 112th year of football at Ohio State. The Buckeyes have compiled a record of 732-291-53 and have notched six National Championships, 28 Big Ten Championships and 33 bowl appearances. Over the years OSU has produced six Heisman Trophy winners, 154 All-Americans and placed 17 players and seven coaches in the College Football Hall of Fame.

OHIO STATE IN 2001: The Buckeyes come into the Outback Bowl with a 7-4 record and ranked 22rd in the AP Poll and 23rd in the ESPN/USA Today Poll. OSU leads the Big Ten Conference in interceptions and time of possession and is ranked second in six other statistical categories including Scoring Defense, Pass Defense, Turnover Margin, Pass Defense Efficiency, Passing TDs Allowed and Punting.

Ohio State’s offense centers around it’s ground attack (190 yds/game) led by TB Jonathan Wells who notched 1,257 yards on 232 carries and 15 TDs. Wells finished second in the Big Ten and 13th nationally in rushing yards. Freshman RB Lydell Ross contributed with 406 yards on 119 carries and added 6 TDs. QB Steve Bellisari directed the Buckeyes offense through the first nine games but missed the final two games after a suspension. He completed 52.3% of his attempts for 1,599 yards and 8 TDs while throwing 6 interceptions. Sophomore QB Craig Krenzel stepped up in the final two games to complete 22 of 41 attempts for 282 yards and 1 TD. The Buckeyes favorite receiver targets are SE Michael Jenkins who caught 41 passes for 836 yards and 3 TDs along with FL Chris Vance (29-544 yds., 4 TDs) and TE Darnell Sanders (13-141 yds., 1 TD).

The Buckeye defense is very impressive leading the conference in interceptions and ranking second in five other defensive categories. All American Safety Mike Doss leads OSU with 77 tackles and has 9 Tackles for Loss, 2 sacks, 3 interceptions and 3 fumble recoveries (1 for a TD). LB Joe Cooper registered 74 tackles, 4.5 TFL, and 1 INT, LB Matt Wilhelm has 6 TFL as part of 59 tackles and 1 sack, and DT Tim Anderson has 9 TFL and 3 sacks. CB Derek Ross led the Big Ten and is tied for 2nd nationally with 7 interceptions but will not play in the bowl due to recent surgery.

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