The 2013 Fighting Gamecocks football season will be the ninth with Steve Spurrier at the helm. South Carolina has not lost an opening game during the tenure of the Ol' Ball Coach, but many of the openers have required much nail-biting for Gamecock fans. Yet, every year it seems like a large portion of the garnet and black faithful predict the infliction of a massacre upon the poor team that must face South Carolina in the first game of the season. Let's glance back at who the Gamecocks have squared off against and the number of points that separate Carolina from its opening day opponents.
2005 South Carolina 24 Central Florida 15 (9-point differential)
2006 Mississippi State 0 South Carolina 15 (15-point differential)
2007 South Carolina 28 Louisiana-Lafayette 14 (14-point differential)
2008 South Carolina 34 North Carolina State 0 (34-point differential)
2009 North Carolina State 3 South Carolina 7 (4-point differential)
2010 South Carolina 41 Southern Mississippi 13 (28-point differential)
2011 South Carolina 56 East Carolina 37 (19-point differential)*
2012 Vanderbilt 13 South Carolina 17 (4-point differential)
*Game played at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC
Overall, South Carolina averages a 15.875-point differential in its opening football games during the Steve Spurrier era - a solid spread. At home, things look even better for the Gamecocks as the average margin goes up to 21.25 points. On the road, or in a neutral location, as in the case of the 2011 ECU game, the margin of victory expectedly decreases to 10.5 points. Regardless of location, all three averages are double-digit numbers. The largest point differentials have occurred in three games: (1) 2008 against NC State; (2) 2010 against Southern Miss; and (3) 2011 against ECU. What these score lines don't indicate, however, is how close the games against NC State and ECU were before the final score was posted. Against NC State at home in 2008, the halftime score was South Carolina 3 NC State 0. After the third quarter, the Gamecocks' lead increased by 10 to reach 13-0. It was hardly a comfortable game to watch until the fourth quarter. When South Carolina took on the Pirates in Charlotte, ECU jumped out to a 17-0 lead and led 24-14 at the completion of the first half. Quickly in the second half, though, the Gamecocks regained control and marched onward to a 19-point victory. The Southern Miss game in 2010 stands alone as the one game in which South Carolina controlled its opponent from the onset and allowed Gamecock fans the opportunity to breathe easy and watch their team do work. Hopefully, that same thing will happen tomorrow evening when North Carolina steps into Williams-Brice Stadium, but don't bet your last dollar that South Carolina will hand the Tar Heels an absolute beat down - even if it is something I'm sure we'd all love to see.