2013 SEC Schedules Announced; South Carolina Gets Some Breaks this Time Around

Crystal Logiudice-US PRESSWIRE

The 2013 SEC schedules are out. Here's our schedule as it now stands:

Aug. 29: NORTH CAROLINA
Sept. 7: at Georgia
Sept. 14: VANDERBILT
Sept. 28: at Central Florida
Oct. 5: KENTUCKY
Oct. 12: at Arkansas
Oct. 19: at Tennessee
Oct. 26: at Missouri
Nov. 2: MISSISSIPPI STATE
Nov. 16: FLORIDA
Nov. 30: CLEMSON

Here are my thoughts:

--This looks much more favorable for a trip to Atlanta than this year's schedule does. (As it turns out, what's toughest about this year's schedule is that we have to play our three toughest opponents in succession, which is why we're heading into the decisive SEC East game really banged up.) First of all, our toughest games are spread out over the season. Second of all, we miss 'Bama and LSU. We also miss TAMU, who I thought we would play. They now have to be considered a tougher opponent than Arkansas, particularly as Arkansas will be breaking in a new coach next year. Lastly, we have either a bye or a cupcake before Florida. (We're playing South Carolina St. either the week before Florida or the week before Clemson.) We do have to play UNC prior to the Georgia game, but Georgia also plays a tough opponent to open. (See below.) This really looks like a plum schedule in terms of difficulty. We'll have no one but ourselves to blame if we don't win the East. The only part that looks tough is the three straight road games against Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mizzou. That won't be easy, but if we can't win each of those games--and remember, Arkansas and probably Tennessee will probably have new coaches in place--we don't deserve a trip to Atlanta.

--I don't think that the position of the Georgia game has much impact on the game's difficulty. However, I do like opening the SEC slate with the Dawgs. It's one of the few traditions we Gamecocks fans enjoy in the SEC. I'm glad we managed to get the game back in September. On the flip side, another favorite tradition of ours, the Halloween game against the Vols, isn't happening next year. That's a shame.

--Georgia got a tougher schedule this year. They have to play LSU. They also have to play at Clemson the week before they play us. Florida's is about the same. The Gators always play LSU, so they rarely get a break. Again, things look good for us to get to Atlanta. Of course, we have to win in Athens, and we have to find a way to beat what will likely be a very strong Gators team. But if we win the head-to-head matchups, it's unlikely that we'll get shut out due to scheduling.

--This is another "bridge" schedule--that is, it isn't part of a regular rotation. So, there will remain some uncertainty about how things will work out in 2014 and beyond. It's still widely believed that when the permanent rotation is set, Texas A&M will be our permanent West opponent.

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