The Virginia Cavaliers reached their second straight Bowl game under Bronco Mendenhall after finishing their regular season with a 7-5 overall record.
Bryce Perkins threw for 207 yards and three touchdowns. The Cavaliers (8-5) beat SC (7-5) 28-0 Saturday in the Belk Bowl, breaking their own record for the largest margin of victory in Charlotte; it previously was 26 points in 2002.
South Carolina QB Jake Bentley is closing in on 3,000 yards passing - with 510 of those coming against No. 2 Clemson. Those figures come on the heels of 85 catches for 895 yards and five scores last fall.
"They say in the locker room all the time (that after) the very first play, they thought they had the game in the bag and were going to have a really good game and then from there it just all went downhill", said Perkins, who played in the 2017 National Junior College Athletic Association national championship game.
As a whole, SC mustered 261 yards offensively and averaged 4.5 yards per play compared to Virginia's 409 yards and 5.2 yards per play. Jordan Ellis ran for 106 yards and a touchdown, helping Virginia hold the ball for more than 42 minutes.
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There is a huge advantage for SC in this game.
If the next logical step in the growth of Virginia's program was winning a bowl game, the Cavaliers didn't merely turn a corner.
Virginia and SC kick off on Saturday afternoon at 12:00 p.m. ET. Gamecocks eclipsed 500 yards of offense in five games this season.
"They move him around and do a really good job of presenting him in some different spots, whether it be in the backfield or at receiver", SC coach Will Muschamp said.
Virginia has produced the game MVP in each appearance (2002, 2003 and 2018), and senior Olamide Zaccheaus became their second running back to earn the award.
The Cavaliers led 14-0 at halftime. U.Va. cornerback Bryce Hall leads the nation in pass breakups and helped the secondary give up the second fewest passing yards per game (180.1) and third fewest TD passes (12) in the ACC. Perkins passed the ball to wide open junior wide receiver Hasise Dubois, and Dubois ran into space before fumbling the ball just into SC territory.
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Bentley was limited to 218 yards on 17-of-39 passing and was intercepted twice.
The Cavaliers were just getting started.
It was a redemptive end to Coach Mendenhall's third year, and the seniors played outstanding football on their last game in a Virginia uniform.
SC got the ball back with just 42 seconds, and failed to put any points on the board. SC is also the more physical team here and that should help.
Shi Smith had six receptions for 76 yards.
Virginia: Has a bright future next year with Perkins returning at quarterback. SC has only six interceptions, three by CB Rashad Fenton.
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