We're still more than a month removed from the regular season, but now that we're able to enjoy the 2013 football season in a digital forum, why don't we run a simulation and see how fare the Cocks?
(For the two of you wondering: I will be bringing back Our Digital Season—maybe even finishing this time!—but this is just a quick 'n dirty sim to see how things could shake out. Ya know—for funsies!)
#8 South Carolina vs. North Carolina: Gamecocks win, 38-21.
After squandering a 10 point lead before halftime, SC outscores NC 28-7 in the second half to win the opener. DigiConnor throws 3 TDs and runs for one more. "Charlie Stewart", the far less interesting monicker assigned to digi-Jadeveon Clowney, is quiet.
Elsewhere in the league, UGA beats Clemson and Va Tech rocks Alabama.
#7 South Carolina at #2 Georgia: Gamecocks win, 35-27.
South Carolina overcomes a halftime deficit and defeats Georgia with a late touchdown. DigiShaw puts up another 3 TDs and DigiWilds runs for 100 yards and a touchdown. Dawgs fail to heed the myriad "CHARLIE STEWART COMIN'" warnings, as he racks up 5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. After the win over Georgia, USC vaults to #3 (sound familiar?)
Meanwhile, Florida edges Miami, Notre Dame sneaks past Michigan, BYU whips Texas, and Stanford falls to San Jose State.
#3 South Carolina v. #24 Vanderbilt: Commodores win, 38-27.
Ah, the letdown game. Despite a 17-0 first quarter lead, Vanderbilt shuts the Cocks down in the second half and scores the stinging conference upset. Kevin Franklin explodes into a mist of pure energy. Despite 162 receiving yards from digiBusta, Vandy's 492 yards of offense overwhelm.
Stanford loses again—this time only scoring 3 points on Army. Bama curbstomps A&M.
Bye. Much woundlicking commences. Clemson loses to NC State, is now 1-2. LSU barely sneaks past Auburn.
#10 South Carolina at UCF: Gamecocks go buckwald, 49-14.
USC scores 14 points in each of the first 3 quarters, and 7 more in the 4th. Connor throws 5 TDs. Shaq Roland catches 4 passes for 119 yards and 2 scores. Gamecocks are back to #8.
Clemson barely beats Wake Forest at home. LSU outlasts UGA. Bama only beats Ole Miss by 3.
#8 South Carolina vs. Kentucky: Gamecocks win believably, 35-10.
The game goes about how you'd expect it. Carolina dominates on most fronts. Triple digit yards for Nick Jones. Mike Davis runs for 3 scores. Clowney finally shows up again, contributing 4 TFLs, 2 deflections and a forced fumble (although only 0.5 sacks.) Carolina somehow loses a spot in the rankings.
Mississippi State hands LSU its first loss.
#9 South Carolina at Arkansas: Of course the Razorbacks win, 34-31.
South Carolina lead entering the 4th quarter, but Arkansas scores 15 points late to win it. Shaw plays his worst game of the season (>50 completion %, 3 INTs). The good thing is this definitely couldn't happen in real life right RIGHT? USC tumbles 6 spots to #15.
Texas wins the Red River Rivalry, an undefeated Florida beats LSU, Missouri nicks Georgia, and Washington hands Oregon its first loss.
#15 South Carolina at Tennessee: Gamecocks stompeth, 35-10.
A game largely defined by UT's futility. Shaw throws 15 completions, all to Shaq Roland and Busta Anderson. Clowney gets a sack. After seven games, Shaw's thrown for nearly 1700 yards, 17 TDs, and 7 picks. Dylan Thompson's thrown four passes. Shaq Roland projects to 1000 yards receiving. Clowney's line: 34 tackles, 11 TFL, 2.5 sacks. Hm...
Missouri beats Florida in a battle of undefeateds lol. Clemson beats Florida State, first loss for the Noles.
#14 Gamecocks at #4 Missouri WAIT WHAT THE HELL #4 THAT CANT BE RIGHT: Missouri wins 34-21.
Evidently the answer to the question of "How long will it take Missouri to grow into the SEC?" was "one season, according to EA's algorithms." Shaw continues to put up the same statline in virtually every game (~16 completions, ~250 yards, ~2 TDs). This more or less ends USC's shot at the division.
A&M dismantles Vanderbilt and Tennessee beats Alabama in Tuscaloosa (hey look I'm just telling you what the game told me.) Maryland beats Clemson in OT.
#17 Gamecocks vs. Mississippi State: Gamecocks rebound, 34-24.
Gamecocks never trailed, although they never pulled away either. Hey remember what I said about Shaw's typical statline? He goes 16-232-2 against MSU. No garish stats. At #15, South Carolina is the highest-ranked 3-loss team.
Clemson falls to Virginia. Purdue upsets a then-undefeated Ohio State. Florida nips Georgia in the WLOCP. Down goes Mizzou! Thanks, UT. Miami beats FSU.
Bye week, part deux. Oregon whoops Stanford, Alabama spanks LSU.
#15 South Carolina v. #4 Florida: South Carolina exacts revenge, wins 44-17.
Hey guess what? Florida made 5 turnovers in this game. Including 3 fumbles. Eerie parity to last year's debacle in Gainesville. Shaw goes 23-263-2, obviously. Clowney finally has the flagship game he's been looking for: 13 tackles, 10 (!!!) TFL, 4.5 sacks. Carolina vaults to #9. Wins SEC Defensive POTW
Clemson loses to Georgia Tech, is now 5-5.
#9 South Carolina v. FCS EAST (Coastal Carolina): 52-10.
I won't bore you with the specifics of a fake FCS blowout. Just know Shaw had 6 TD passes and Clowney had 1.5 sacks.
A&M hands LSU its fourth loss. Missouri loses again, this time to Ole Miss.
#8 South Carolina v. Clemson: South Carolina wins 41-21.
After an early 14-0 deficit, South Carolina allows 7 points in the final 54 minutes of the game. Shaw throws for 325 yards and 4 TDs, Roland catches 111 yards, and Clowney has another big game with 11 tackles, 4 TFL and 2 sacks. Carolina ascends to #6, Clemson falls to 6-6.
Washington State stuns Washington, Michigan handles Ohio State, UF beats FSU, A&M trounces Missouri.
South Carolina finishes third in the east, behind champion Florida and Missouri. Alabama beats Florida in the SEC Championship. Now at #5, South Carolina won't get a BCS at large, but garners an invite to the Cotton Bowl against an unranked Baylor team.
#5 South Carolina vs. Baylor: Gamecocks win it, 38-20.
Down 20-3 at the half, Carolina outscores Baylor 31-0 in the 2nd half to win big. Shaw goes 22-291-3. Roland gets over the 1,000 yard mark, hauling in 11 balls for 151 yards and 2 TD. Clowney adds 3 more TFL and a half a sack.
Oh, and Notre Dame beats Virginia Tech (?) in the NCG.
End of Regular Season: South Carolina finishes #4, 10-3 (5-3).
Lead Passer: Shaw: 3,269 yards, 36 TD, 8 INT, 58% completion
Lead Rusher: B. Wilds: 827 yards, 7 TD, 5.2 YPC
Lead Receiver: S. Roland: 75 Rec, 1,069 yards, 14 TD
Lead Tackler: Clowney: 81 tackles, 32 TFL, 9.5 sacks, 6 deflections, 4 FF. After being quiet early, Clowney rebounds for an All-SEC season.
AWARDS AND STUFF:
Holy crap! Connor won the Heisman. Get outta here. Oh hey, I got an achievement for that. Hurray!
Clowney gets 2nd team All-American. Shaw doesn't get any All-American honors, despite his Heisman. Shaq Roland, Ronald Patrick, and Clowney named to 1st team ALL-SEC. Shaw, Busta and Vic Hampton are 2nd team.
This brings up an intriguing rhetorical question: if you could push a button and have all the above come true, would you make it happen, or do you expect our actual season to look better in January? Going with the sim would mean a few deflating losses and another failure to reach the SECCG. But would a Heisman, a fifth victory over Clemson, a fourth over Georgia and Tennessee, a revenge spanking for Florida, and our highest all-time ranking be worth it? I don't know about you, but I'd take it in a heartbeat. How about you?