Be sure to join the Open Thread posted by Gamecock Man during the game.
1. Steve Spurrier. I'm keeping the tradition of putting him here until he loses all his mojo. Which, in the midst of his longest losing streak ever, could be sooner rather than later. Spurrier is currently coaching the only team that's ever beaten him in a season opener.
2. Jasper Brinkley. Even hurt, Brinkley might be the best linebacker in the SEC when healthy. He's at least "in the conversation," as they say. Even the emotional boost of having back on the field should be worth something to a defense that collapsed down the stretch last year.
3. Kenny McKinley. He's consistent. He's also pretty good. And if an offense depleted by unfortunate run-ins with athletics department refrigerators is to have any chance to score right now, they need the SEC's most underrated wide receiver involved early and often.
4. Ellis Johnson. The new defensive coordinator doesn't need to do much to improve on Tyrone Nix's numbers: Just keep the team out of the rock-bottom of the standings against the run. Do that and the talented secondary can take it from there.
5. The WB. Let's hope the fans do their part. The place should be rockin'.
1. Fridge-gate. It still escapes me why anyone would break into a refrigerator for a sports drink, but that's beside the point. Whether that led to the benching of Mike Davis or not, the fact is that the starting running back won't be there. For a team starting an inexperienced quarterback, that's the last thing South Carolina needed.
2. Momentum. Sure, N.C. State lost its last two games. But South Carolina lost its last five, going from 6-1 and No. 6 in the country (please make that the last time I have to write those words) to sitting home for the postseason. Every time you thought, "This can't be happening," something worse happened.
3. The QB situation. Sure, Tommy Beecher is Steve Spurrier's choice, and that takes him a ways. But it only takes him so far. He's still relatively inexperienced and starting a game against BCS-league opposition. If the Gamecocks have to start throwing the ball -- either because they get behind or because the running game gets stuffed -- things could get dicey.
4. It's my call? No one is really sure who's going to be calling the plays this year. Spurrier Sr. will say Jr.'s calling the plays. Then he's in charge. Then he's the offensive player, but Jr.'s the play-caller. Then Spurrier will be calling some plays. Then... Needless to say, this does not instill confidence.
5. History. N.C. State has won four straight against South Carolina, including the Slog Bowl in 1999. Different teams, and different coaches. Here's hoping for a different result.
THE CALL: A different result it will be. The Gamecock's won't dominate, but Tom O'Brien's squad is not quite ready to compete. Gamecocks 28, Wolfpack 14