The South Carolina Gamecocks are a relevant football program. Let me repeat… they are a relevant football program. And they can thank Spurrier for that. Since 2008, the Gamecocks have gone 7-6, 7-6, 9-5, 11-2, 11-2. In that time, they have beaten teams like Jawjuh (a few times), Florida (also a few times), and Alabama. Spurrier is 66-37 in 9 years and ranked in the top 10 in the last two season. In 2012, the Gamecocks only losses came to @THE FLORIDA GATORS and @LSU and a big win over eventual SEC-East champion Jawjuh Slobberhounds 35-7 and Clemson 27-17. In 2013, the good news for the Gamecocks is Jadaveon Clowney returns to terrorize QBs, Spurrier has Connor Shaw back to run his offense and they have a fairly favorable schedule to pull off another possible trip to the SEC Championship game. With three decent tests to open the season
8/31 North Carolina
The Tarheels are coming off an 8-4 season with the 8th best offense in the country with an average of 40 points per game against teams like Elon (62-0), Idaho (66-0). If you take those two games out, and they averaged 35.9 points per game. Still not too bad. In those same games, however, the Tarheel defense allowed an average of 30.8 points per game. So they will face a South Carolina team that only allowed 18.2 points per game in 2012. You can expect that North Carolina will put points up on the board again in 2012… but not enough to win this opener especially in Columbia. Gamecocks by 17.
Darth Visor returns to Athens where he has had quite some success. In fact, in 1995, the last trip THE Spurrier coached FLORIDA GATORS made to Samford Stadium before the game was moved to Jacksonville. The Gators walked away with a big 52-17 win over the Mutts. Since being in Columbia, Spurrier has led the Gamecocks to three straight wins over the Leghumpers… including trips to Athens. The Mutts lost a good amount of defensive talent to the NFL in 2012 but returns their RB tandem and Aaron Murray returns for his final season. But South Carolina is returning quite a bit of talent on their defense which held the Mutts to just 7 points in 2012. Cocks by 6.
Jadaveon Clowney had 14 sacks in 2012. Think he’ll be licking his chops to get after a freshman QB? Last year, the Gamecocks won this game 17-14 eating up some clock with 205 yards rushing, compared to 214 yard passing for Vandy. While in the past Vandy has shown a little spunk, and a little fire and recruited well under James Franklin, Franklin is no Spurrier and Vandy has no Jadaveon Clowney or experience at QB. South Carolina by 17.
9/21 OPEN DATE
After three games against quality opponents, the Gamecocks probably deserve a week off to rest and reset… and probably enjoy being 3-0 overall and 2-0 in SEC play. In week 4, the Gamecocks travel to Orlando to face as feisty UCF Knights team that went 10-4 in C-USA, 27th defensively and 25th offensively. To be honest, I am not too impressed with wins over Akron, Fla Intl, East Carolina, Southern Miss (in OT), Memphis, SMU, UTEP, UAB and Ball State. They lost to Tulsa (twice), Ohio State and Mizzou. In 2013, UCF joins the AAC (formerly Big East) and by this point have faced Akron, Fla Intl., and Penn State. I don’t think this will even be close. Cock-a-doodle-doo by 17.
Kent State and Samford. That was the only wins Kentucky managed in 2012. They lost to Western Kentucky… in over time. In 2012, the Gamecocks won 38-17 in Lexington. In 2013, the Wildcats have a new coach in town who is recruiting to build a team that can put up a fight in the SEC. By this point in the season, Kentucky will have faced Western Kentucky (but this time with some guy named Petrino at the helm), Miami (Oh), Louisville and Florida – all at home. Stoops takes his first SEC road game to Columbia over matched and over manned. This won’t even be close. Gamecocks by 17.
South Carolina heads west to face divisional foe Arkansas who in 2012 managed 20 points in Columbia with an awful team with awful coaching. South Carolina still won by 18. This will be the second team in a row Spurrier and the Gamecocks faces with a new head coach. Bret Bielema is not Mark Stoops. While Stoops is a great defensive mind, he is in for a rude awakening as a head coach. Bielema is proven and had great success at Wisconsin. After a few recruiting cycles, he will at Arkansas too. Bielema and Spurrier have one thing in common.. they know how scheme to get the most out of what they have. The Hogs will have faced La-LaFayette, Samford, Southern Miss, @Rutgers, Texas A&M, @THE FLORIDA GATORS before Spurrier rolls into town. By this point in the season, Bielema will have a good idea in what he has in his Razorback team and he’ll get an unexpected win in his first year. Including over the Gamecocks. Hogs by 3.
Spurrier, meet Butch Jones, the third new ball coach in a row you’ll face this season and taking over a SEC-east foe you loved to embarrass the hell out of over your coaching career. Since 2008, the Gamecocks are 4-1 vs. the Vols who won only 1 SEC game, and that was against Kentucky. Last year, the Vols had Bray and Hunter to help out a seriously underperforming defense to at least keep them competitive. When 2013, begins, the Vols may not even know who their true starting QB is going to be and the Vols will still be learning new offensive and defensive schemes. By this point, the Vawls will have faced Austin Peay, Western Kentucky, @Oregon, @THE FLORIDA GATORS, South Alabama, and Jawjuh. It is entirely possible they are 2-4 or 3-4 and looking to turn things around and trying for a statement win. Unfortunately, it won’t happen this week. Gamecocks by 14.
By the time the Gamecocks hit the road again for the second straight week, they will likely be bowl eligible and still on track to win the SEC-east. The Cocks will face a Mizzou team who went a disappointing 5-7 in 2012 won this match up 31-10 at home. This year the game is in Columbia again… but this time further north. Gary Pinkel and Mizzou are still looking for a statement SEC win, though they nearly pulled off an upset vs. THE FLORIDA GATORS. By this point in the season the Tigers will have faced Murray State, Toledo, @Indiana, Arkansas State, @Vanderbilt, @UGAly, and THE FLORIDA GATORS and Pinkels back side may be feeling some serious heat. Both teams have a returning QB, though the Tigers have a new offensive coordinator. Will the defense be able to stop anyone after allowing an average of 33 points per game to SEC foes alone? Pinkel and Co have some work to do still. Columbia, South Carolina wins by 13.
11/2 Mississippi State
The last time South Carolina faced the Miss State flavored Bulldogs, the Gamecocks came out on top 14-12 in 2011. Fun fact: This will be the second former FLORIDA GATOR Offensive Coordinator who is now a head coach this season. Mullen, however, has something that Larry Fedora does not have. Two National Championships, a Heisman winning QB and two QBs who were first round draft picks. While Spurrier loves to feast on some bullmutt, he has not exactly had as good of a time with the Mississippi variety as he has the Athens. Both defenses are sure to make stops in this game and both are bound to scheme some amount of points on the board somehow. For that reason alone, I think this game is interesting for a while, but the Gamecocks D comes up big. Cocks by 17.
11/9 OPEN DATE
In 2012, the Gamecocks were in control of their destiny and return to the SEC Championship game. That is until they went to LSU and had a disheartening loss and then Spurrier returned to The Swamp where they were just feathered and roasted. Those losses essentially knocked Carolina out of contention because there was no way the Mutts were gonna lose again with their soft ass damn schedule. This year THE FLORIDA GATORS return to Columbia to face a team that will be looking to score some revenge on the butt whooping handed down by the Gators last season. There is no doubt that Williams-Bryce Stadium will be rocking and the Cocks have only Florida in their way as they close out the SEC slate on their schedule. The Gators lost some big talent to the NFL, but they have just as good of talent coming back to fill those roles. But the Gamecocks get the week off before. Will the Gators offensive struggles be solved? One can only hope. This will be a close game down to the wire. Gators by 6.
11/23 Coastal Carolina
Starters will get some good rest in before having to face another round with some Tigers to close out their season. Chickens by 30.
Clemson is just one of those teams you look at the talent they have then look at their record and just scratch your head. Until 2012 that is where they went 11-2 with their only losses to FSUcks and South Carolina, but quality wins over Virginia Tech, Maryland, NC State and LSU (in the bowl game). Clemson ended their 2012 season averaging 41 points on offense (6th nationally) and allowed an average of 24.8 points per game. There is something special about rivalry games and the South Carolina-Clemson rivalry is as heated as just about any other but have not fared well against the Gamecocks (1-4 since 2008). The Gamecocks have won the last 4 games of this rivalry by an average of 17.5 points. I don’t see that changing much in 2013. Cocks keep their rivals at bay by 13.
South Carolina should keep their double digit win season, and probably Top 10 ranking streak intact for the 2013 season ending with a 10-2 record. Unless the Cocks get some help, it is unlikely they return to Atlanta with probable SEC losses. But they are getting better and they will have their say in the upset column for a long time.