2016 Birmingham Bowl
The 2016 Birmingham Bowl was the 11th contest in the annual postseason Birmingham Bowl series at Legion Field which began in 2006. The game was played for the third year with no corporate title sponsor.
The contest took place on a breezy, cool afternoon on Thursday, December 29, 2016 with the favored 10-2 South Florida Bulls of the American Athletic Conference defeating the 6-6 South Carolina Gamecocks of the Southeastern Conference 46 to 39 in overtime.
South Florida was coached by T. J. Weist after head coach Willie Taggart departed to take the same position at the University of Oregon. Former Alabama offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin is set to take over the Bulls program in January 2017. South Carolina was coached by former Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, in his first season with the Gamecocks.
South Florida quarterback Quinton Flowers was the game's Most Valuable Player, throwing for 261 yards and two touchdowns while also leading all rushers with 105 yards on 21 carries and three more scores. South Carolina's Jake Bentley threw for 390 yards and three touchdowns, but also threw two costly interceptions and lost a fumble.
Flowers opened up the scoring in the first quarter with two 4-yard runs into the end zone. South Carolina answered with Bentley's 25-yard touchdown pass to Hayden Hurst early in the second quarter, but Flowers ran for another score on the next possession to give the Bulls a 22-7 lead. Bentley added another touchdown, a 3-yard completion to Deebo Samuel. Flowers answered with a 37-yard throw to D'Ernest Johnson giving South Florida a 29-14 edge at halftime.
Both teams added 10 points in the third quarter, with USF's Brandon Behr and USC's Elliott Fry each kicking field goals after Deebo Samuel scored an early rushing touchdown. Bulls defender Tajee Fullwood returned a Bentley interception 47 yards for a South Florida touchdown to bring the score to 39-24.
In the fourth quarter, South Carolina mounted an improbable comeback. Bentley threw a touchdown pass to Bryan Edwards with 9:18 remaining. South Florida was unable to capitalize on a fumble recovery close to their end zone and South Carolina returned the ensuing punt to the 2 yard line, where A.J. Turner punched it in and Hayden Hurst hauled in a Bentley pass for the 2-point conversion to tie the game.
In the first play of overtime, Flowers threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Elkanah Dillon. The Bulls then sacked Bentley on fourth down in the Gamecocks' only drive to seal the victory.
A team luncheon hosted by the Monday Morning Quarterback Club on December 28 featured former Alabama and NFL running back Shaun Alexander as keynote speaker, a question and answer session with coaches T. J. Weist and Will Muschamp, and the presentation of the Golden Flake Legend of Birmingham award to Joe Cribbs.
That night's Street Fest and Pep Rally was held from 2:00 to 8:00 PM in the Uptown entertainment district. The event featured performances by both visiting marching bands, and music performances by the Martini Shakers and the Schmohawks. Fireworks capped the event.
A "Fan Zone" outside Legion Field on the morning before the 11:00 AM kickoff featured music by Man's Best Friend.
|Site: Legion Field|
|Names: Papajohns.com Bowl (2006-2010), BBVA Compass Bowl (2011-2014), Birmingham Bowl (2015-)|
|By year: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, Jan. 2015, Dec. 2015, 2016, 2017|
- Wray, Cheryl (December 25, 2016) "Birmingham Bowl 2016 Fan Guide: Tickets, schedule, activities for week of South Carolina vs. South Florida." The Birmingham News
- Wray, Cheryl (December 29, 2016) "USF wins wild overtime thriller, 46-39, over South Carolina in Birmingham Bowl." The Birmingham News
- Birmingham Bowl website