This post continues a week-long series celebrating fandom with EA Sports.
If you've been following this blog this summer, you know that I've begun doing game previews and predictions. You know that I've picked the Gamecocks to win games against Southern Miss., Georgia, Furman, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt, while I've picked them to lose against Auburn and Alabama. How do I think they'll do in the rest of the games? Here's a sneak preview of what I'll have to say about the latter part of the season.
at Florida: Loss
at Clemson: Win
So, in a nutshell, I'm predicting that the Gamecocks will win nine games during the regular season, which will put us in position to win a tenth for only the second time in school history if we can win our bowl game.
What do I think about the Gamecocks' chances to finally earn a spot in the SEC Championship Game, you ask? Well, on the one hand, I think they're about as good this year as any year. I think Florida will be down this year, Tennessee will likely win no more than five or six games, and while I think Georgia will be quite good by year's end, I think that we get them in a good spot for us to get the head-to-head win. On the other hand, I think Carolina will have about as good a team as it's ever had this year. The defense should again be excellent, while the offense should at the very least be serviceable and could be quite good if Garcia and the o-line show any signs of improvement. This all spells opportunity for the Gamecocks, and I think we'll at least take advantage to the tune of eight or nine regular season wins, which would be good for a very memorable year. That might even be good enough to make the SEC Championship Game. After all, there have been a handful teams of similar resume that have made it: think 2007 or 2004 Tennessee or 2002 Arkansas (Arkansas was aided by Alabama being on probation that year). However, getting to Atlanta on nine wins would be a little tough. We'd probably have to beat both Florida and Georgia to get the head-to-head tiebreaker against them, hope we do well otherwise, and hope the Gators and Dawgs lose enough games. Unfortunately, I think that's pretty unlikely, particularly that we beat the Gators in the Swamp and that neither Florida or Georgia will win 10 games. It's worth noting that while we have a good shot against Georgia, they play a really soft SEC schedule this year, one that could lead them right to Atlanta. Finally, I think it's unlikely that we end up being the team that wins 10 or 11 games and gets in by sheer force. I'd love to see it--who wouldn't like to see us going to Atlanta with a shot at the BCS Title Game?--but with our schedule, it's going to be tough, and as much as I like to think this will be a very talented team, the realist in me realizes that it's still a bit behind the elite.