Will you tune in this Sunday to watch Super Bowl LIII? Perhaps you’ll host a small get together at your deluxe independent living residence or join the gang in front of a big-screen TV in one of the common areas at The Woodlands at Furman. Whether you’re a die-hard fan or you mostly look forward to seeing this year’s batch of hilarious commercials, you won’t want to miss these facts about South Carolina’s role in football’s biggest game.

The Prides of Football City

Dubbed Football City USA for spawning a huge number of NFL players, the town of Rock Hill, South Carolina will have two native sons suiting up for the New England Patriots on Sunday. Though they’re teammates now, Rock Hill’s Cordarrelle Patterson and Stephon Gilmore were once rivals! The former was a wide receiver for Rock Hill’s Northwestern High School while the latter played quarterback for nearby South Pointe High School. In college, Gilmore became a star cornerback for the USC Gamecocks and Patterson played for the University of Tennessee.

Both players have come a long way since high school! For the second consecutive year, Stephon Gilmore will be on the field for the Patriots. The Rams should be wary of Gilmore: this year was one of his finest since his NFL debut in 2012. The 28-year-old cornerback is coming off an excellent season with two interceptions, 45 tackles, and two forced fumbles.

For Cordarrelle Patterson, Sunday’s game will mark an exciting end to a season that was filled with uncertainty. After spending part of 2018 on the sidelines with a knee injury, the explosive wide receiver is back and is sure to pose a threat to the Rams. Earlier this year, Patterson showed why he‘s considered one of the best kickoff returners in the history of pro football with a 95-yard return for a touchdown against the Chicago Bears. Look for Patterson as he returns the kickoff for the Patriots in the biggest game of his career.

South Carolina in Super Bowls Past

It’ll be tough to top the drama of last year’s Super Bowl, when victory slipped through the fingers of the New England Patriots in a surprise upset by the Philadelphia Eagles. For South Carolina football fans, however, last year’s matchup was a guaranteed win, no matter the score. Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who hails from St. Matthews, South Carolina, squared off against Stephon Gilmore in the last championship game. Fierce competitors on the field, Gilmore and Jeffery were practice partners and roommates in college. Jeffery was even a groomsman in Gilmore’s wedding! Despite the Super Bowl battle, the two South Carolinians remain good friends to this day.

Gamecocks have also played important parts in other recent Super Bowls. In 2017, Patrick DiMarco, who was a fullback and a tight end at USC, took the field with the Atlanta Falcons against the Patriots. Free safety Darian Stewart, who played defense for the Gamecocks, was part of the Denver Broncos victory over the Carolina Panthers in 2016. Two ex-Gamecocks, Lemuel Jeanpierre and Sidney Rice, helped Seattle win their first Super Bowl title in 2014 when the Seahawks delivered a staggering 43-to-8 blow to Denver. In 2013, former USC players Emanuel Cook and Chris Culliver faced off in Super Bowl XLVII. Cook and the other Baltimore Ravens went on to defeat Culliver and the San Francisco 49ers, handing them their first-ever Super Bowl loss.

As you watch Super Bowl LIII, you can take pride in South Carolina’s starring role. The game may be held in Atlanta, and the teams may be from Los Angeles and New England, but the Super Bowl wouldn’t be the same without the Palmetto State.

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