It is once again time for me to issue my predictions for the season. My awful, unresearched, bound-to-be-completely-wrong predictions.
VS. Southern Mississippi
After some ill-advised trash talking on the part of their Fearless Leader, the USM Golden Eagles will enter Williams-Brice Stadium ready to go. Make no mistake, this team will be ready to play on a national stage that they rarely see. Quarterback Austin Davis will no doubt be chomping at the bit to reclaim his position as the unquestioned starter after rookie Martevious Young did a heckuva job filling in last year. Unfortunately for the Mustard Buzzards, the Gamecocks will come into this game amped up as well. Focus may have been a problem for us in Birmingham to end last season, but focus shouldn't a be a problem for a team itching to hit someone in a different colored uniform.
Bold prediction: This might not be that bold since our seasons have begun the same way since the Mir Space Station fell from orbit, but prepare to marvel at my clairvoyance. USC will win the toss. We will elect to receive first. The offense will get one first down immediately followed by a pick. Do not despair, though, because the defense will not surrender a touchdown on the short field. The game will continue in a similar fashion until the Gamecocks narrowly prevail and I have received 30+ texts from friends reminding me that they would rather watch MLS playoffs than see South Carolina slog through another Thursday night season opener. Radio call-in shows nearly combust from whinny fans decrying our pathetic effort. Mark it down. This will happen.
The Georgia game is always close. They hate us and we hate them. What makes this series different from the one with Clemson is that it is early enough that neither team has figured out if the other one sucks yet. It is a law of nature that one of them must, though. This year, as last year, I predict that it is the Bulldawgs who will light up the suck-o-meter. A freshman quarterback playing his first SEC game on the road against one of the best secondaries in the nation is not a recipe for success. Granted, everyone else on the UGA offense is a returning starter, but I don't see UGA racking up tons of yardage on our experienced defense - even with two quality tailbacks.
Bold prediction: The Gamecocks edge the Bulldogs after having gotten all of their players back from suspension save Wesley Saunders. Garcia throws one interception to Connor Shaw's none. Que the quarterback controversy. On the flip side, Marcus Lattimore has a breakout game and cements himself as the starter for the rest of the year.
Trapgamesayswhat? True to form, the Gamecocks come out flat. Connor Shaw, having been anointed the starter because of his superior performance during this week's practice, is unable to get a first down until the second quarter. The Gamecocks manage to pull away late only when Steven Garcia comes in in the fourth quarter and throws three straight fades to the corner end zone. Thankfully, Alshon grabs one and all is right with the world. Garcia plays well enough to continue the quarterback controversy into the next week.
Bold prediction: The USC defense will crack the Furman quarterback's ribs. He will leave early in the first quarter.
The Gamecocks then travel to Auburn for a contest with Chizik Nickles. This game will no doubt be billed as the meeting of two of the nation's best running back recruits from a year ago. We will hear many times that "they were almost teammates."
Bold Prediction: South Carolina wins. That's pretty bold. Auburn will out-rush the Gamecocks, but it will be the superior play of USC's defense that wins this game. Feasting on an inexperienced quarterback, the Gamecock D will pick off two pass attempts, one for a touchdown.
The Tide will roll into Columbia ranked as the number one team in the nation. The cocky Tide players pummel a ranked Gamecocks squad into the ground. At that point the 'Cocks should be ranked, and I think we all know that Karma won't allow that to be the case for long. But more to the point, I have to pick against the Gamecocks here because if I didn't I would also have to have them winning the National Championship. I mean, that's the only logical conclusion one could draw from a Gamecocks team that begins the year 5-0 with victories over UGA, Auburn, and current National Champion Alabama.
Bold prediction: After the game Wesley Saunders, who officially has been kicked off the team by now, calls in to state that the Gamecocks would have won had he still been on the team.
Will this finally be the year Kentucky breaks their curse against the Gamecocks? Nope. Sorry, btcoop, I'm not buying it. South Carolina will once again be focused after getting pummeled by Alabama in the week prior. The Gamecock D will again figure to feature prominently in the game, perhaps even causing a fumble or two.
Bold Prediction: Dicky Lyons, Jr. will Tweet during the game, "Had dream about Spurrier last night. Texted him, but got no reply."
Robby Caldwell may know how to work a room, but today the Gamecocks D will work on him. At this point the 'Doors will be lucky to have two wins under their belt. Even though Bobby Johnson is the only piece of the puzzle missing this year, this team has disaster written all over it. You're coach can only go to the Turkey-insemination-motivating-speech well so many times before that fountain dries up. /Shudders. Anywho, the Gamecocks walk in a laugher for the first time since MTSU.
Gamecock fans will outnumber Vandy fans. Rick Petino will ask Robby Caldwell for advice on inseminating something. I will make too many inseminating jokes in my pre-game write up. The Gamecocks will finally win the the turnover margin against the Commodores. Now that is bold.
Ahhh. Do you smell that? There is dead Vol in the air - and I likes it. The Volunteers will travel to Columbia to face what will surely be a ranked Gamecock opponent. However the Gamecocks will shake off the shackles of mediocrity and rise to a 6-1 record.
Bold Prediction: Alshon Jeffery will pump gas... on the proverbial flaming crater that was once the Volunteer football program. BOOM.
Arkansas once again dashes our hopes of going 4-0 in November. The Razorbacks will come into the game a well-oiled offensive machine. Our passing game pales in comparison to their, and Garcia and Shaw each throw an interception. The Gamecocks do not go down without a fight, though. Tailback Marcus Lattimore breaks 60-yard run for touchdown and Brian Maddox adds another on a 5 yard reception out of the backfield. The Gamecocks fall 21-14. However, they remain in the top 25.
Bold Prediction: Bobby Petrino does NOT bolt for the Michigan head coaching gig.
Depending how the rest of the conference shakes out, this game could very well be for the SEC East crown. Usually, this is the point where media member write stories about USC's impending late season slide. However this time will be different. I won't read any of those stories because they will be on GoGamecocks.com. We still lose, sorry. The mighty Gators prove too much. However, we do own second place in the East all to ourselves for the first time ever. A few fans grumble that we blew a golden opportunity, but the game was played well and most are content with their Gamecocks.
Bold Prediction: Neither team scores more than 17.
Gamecocks win in a completely forgettable game. Connor Shaw sees mop up duty late in the third quarter, but the margin of victory is still only 14 points.
Bold Prediction: The Gamecocks rush for over 220 yards as a team.
Win. What else is there to say? Clemson won't be in the running for the ACC championship this year, but that failure, even with He of the Nice Pants returning, will demoralize the team. The Tigers fight hard for the first quarter, but a TD strike to Alshon before halftime deflates the Tigers for good. Carolina will win two in a row against Clemson in God know how long. Clemson will finally realize it's folly in hiring a cheerleader to do a man's job.
Bold Prediction: Dabo Swinney will comment on how well-prepared Kyle Parker is for the NFL.
I have somehow managed to predict a 9-3 season with victories over Auburn, Georgia, and Clemson. I have been pointing to this season for well over two years as the one that will get us over the hump, and all the recent talk of suspension is not going to sway. I think we're capable of 9 wins and I think this is the most likely way we're going to do it.