Rivals.com has us as the 34th best team in the country in their preview. In other words, they see more of the same--i. e., around a seven-win season--for us this year. Their reasoning? Our tough schedule, for one thing:
The Gamecocks appear more talented than a year ago and should be better than last season. But with their minefield of a schedule, it might not show up in the won-lost record. Garcia's progress at quarterback and the offensive line's development are huge keys to South Carolina's success. But bettering the seven wins of last season won't be easy. Eight victories would be considered a resounding success.
That's a sobering but largely compelling perception. This team should be better, especially on offense, but with a schedule that features an away game at NC State and a draw from the West that includes that side of the conference's two best teams, we're going to have to be much, much better to win eight or nine. Let's hope Garcia and the young guys on defense are ready to make the next step.
Pat Dooley ranks us as the 10th overall program in the SEC. I think he has us too low, although not by a whole lot. His rankings are pretty bizarre, though. Some of the notable curiosities of his list are that he has Ole Miss at six, which gives the Rebs too much credit for one good year and a little momentum, and that he has Kentucky above both us and Auburn. Having Auburn at nine seems completely perverse to me; the Tigers are obviously down, but there's still a lot of talent there, and they're only a few years removed from a conference championship and a string of very good years. Ranking Auburn at nine also makes one wonder why he ranks Tennessee so highly despite the fact that both are traditionally strong programs that are in transitional periods. I'd probably have us at around eight, for the record.