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Ten things you didn't know about South Carolina

Friday, September 21, 2012 | 12:00 p.m. CDT; updated 8:04 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, September 25, 2012

COLUMBIA — The Missouri football team got a break from the Southeastern Conference with Pacific-12 opponent Arizona State in town last week. Previously, Georgia welcomed the Tigers to the SEC with a 41-20 Bulldogs win.

Now, the South Carolina Gamecocks will be the first team to host the Tigers in Missouri's first road game as a member of the SEC. Each school's hometown is named "Columbia," but beyond that, the towns are very different. Columbia is South Carolina's capital and largest city. Columbia, Mo., neighbors the state's capital and is just the fifth-largest city in Missouri.

The schools differ just as much as the cities. Here are 10 things you didn't know about South Carolina:

10. USC Gamecocks or Trojans? South Carolina goes by USC, as does the University of Southern California. Both institutions also go by SC. In 2009, Southern Cal won a trademark battle over South Carolina when South Carolina tried to register an "SC" logo. South Carolina could not register its logo because it was deemed too similar to the one used by Southern California.

9. South Carolina is nicknamed "The Palmetto State" after the state tree, the Sabal palmetto, which grows up to 65 feet tall and and has green, fan-shaped leaflets at the top that grow four to six feet long.

8. Gamecocks' running back George Rogers won the Heisman in 1980 after he ran for 1,781 yards and 14 touchdowns that season. His No. 38 jersey was retired at the halftime ceremony during his last home game at South Carolina. Rogers went on to play seven seasons in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints and Washington Redskins. Rogers won a Super Bowl with Washington in 1987 when the Redskins beat the Denver Broncos 42-10 in Super Bowl XXII.

7. Sterling Sharpe also had his jersey retired by South Carolina while he was active at the school. The Gamecocks retired his No. 2 jersey following the 1987 season. Sharpe was a five-time All-Pro receiver for the Green Bay Packers before a neck injury forced him to retire in 1994. His brother, Shannon Sharpe, was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2011. During his speech, Shannon addressed Sterling, saying, "I'm the only player of 267 men that's walked through this building to my left that can honestly say this: I'm the only pro football player that's in the Hall of Fame, and the second-best player in my own family."

6. The South Carolina football program has won only five bowl games, and none before the 1994 season. The school's overall bowl record is just 5-12, compared with Missouri's 13-16 record. The Gamecocks are just 2-4 in bowl games under head coach Steve Spurrier, including a loss to the Tigers in the 2005 Independence Bowl, when Missouri came back from an early 21-0 deficit to win.

5. Steve Spurrier counts his NFL and USFL wins in his career total. Spurrier won his 200th college game last week against the University of Alabama at Birmingham, but it was hardly a milestone for him. By his count, he has 247, including 35 from coaching the Tampa Bay Bandits in the USFL from 1983 to 1985 and 12 from coaching the Washington Redskins in 2002 and 2003.

4. South Carolina is a baseball school. The Gamecocks won national championships in 2010 and 2011. The school's only other national championships come from the women's outdoor track team in 2002 and the equestrian team in 2005 and 2007.

3. In 1805, four years after being chartered, South Carolina held classes with nine students and two faculty members. Compare that with the 30,721 students and about 1,604 faculty members on campus in 2011.

2. There are more tigers in Columbia, S.C. than in Columbia, Mo. The Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, S.C., has bred and maintained Siberian tigers since it opened 1974. Perhaps the Missouri Tigers will feel at home.

1. The band Hootie & the Blowfish was formed at the University of South Carolina in 1986 by Darius Rucker, Jim Sonefeld, Mark Bryan and Dean Felber. The idea for the band started when Bryan was impressed by the singing of Rucker, who would become "Hootie," singing in the shower of their dorm. The cover of "Cracked Rear View," the band's first album, includes a photo of the band members sitting in front of the Longstreet Theatre on the South Carolina campus.


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