The Gamecocks have had the benefit of a much-needed November off-week to try and fix what ails us on defense (and, maybe, find just an extra smidge of fourth quarter offense while we're at it).
How have we fared coming out of byes in the past thirty years - especially November byes? Follow along as we trace our way back three decades to the 1984 "Black Magic" season and look at our post-bye record.
First, here are the raw numbers:
|Year||Bye Week||W/L Next Game?||2nd Bye?||W/L Next Game?||CU after Nov. Bye?|
|1984||Sept 15||Win v. Duke 21-0||-||-||-|
|1985||Sept. 14||Lost v. #19 Mich. 34-3||Oct. 26||Lost v. NC State 21-17||Lost|
|1986||Sept. 20||Lost v. UGA 31-26||-||-||-|
|1987||Sept. 19||Lost @ UGA 13-6||Nov. 7||Win v. Wake 30-0||Won|
|1988||Oct. 22||Win v. NCSU 23-7||-||-||-|
|1989||Oct. 14||Win v. WCU 24-3||-||-||-|
|1990||Sept. 15||Win v. VaTech 35-24||-||-||-|
Lost v. # 19 NCSU 38-21
|1992||Oct. 10||Win v. # 15 MSU 21-6||-||-||-|
|1993||Oct. 16||Lost v. # 8 Florida 37-26||-||-||-|
|1994||Nov. 5||Lost @ # 4 Florida 48-17||-||-||Won|
|1995||Nov. 4||Lost v. # 3 Florida 63-7||-||-||Lost|
|1996||Nov. 9||Lost @ # 1 Florida 52-25||-||-||Won|
|1997||Nov. 8||Lost v. # 12 Florida 48-21||-||-||Lost|
|1998||Nov. 7||Lost @ # 4 Florida 33-14||-||-||Lost|
|1999||Nov. 6||Lost v. # 4 Florida20-3||-||-||Lost|
|2000||Nov. 4||Lost @ # 5 Florida 41-21||-||-||Lost|
|2001||Sept. 15||Win @ # 17 MSU 16-14||-||-||-|
|2002||Oct. 26||Lost @ # 25 Tenn.18-10||-||-||-|
|2003||Oct. 4||Win Kentucky 27-21||-||-||-|
|2004||Oct. 23||Lost v. # 11 Tenn. 43-29||-||-|
|2005||Oct. 15||Win v. Vandy 35-28||-||-||-|
|2006||Oct. 14||Win @ Vandy 31-13||-||-||-|
|2007||Nov. 17||Lost v. # 21 Clem. 23-21||-||-||Lost|
|2008||Oct. 25||Win v. Tenn. 27-6||Nov. 24||Lost @ Clem. 31-14||Lost|
|2009||Nov. 21||Win v. # 15 Clem 34-17||-||-||Won|
|2010||Oct. 2||Win v. # 1 Bama 35-21||-||-||-|
|2011||Oct. 22||Win @ Tenn. 14-3||-||-||-|
|2012||Nov. 3||Win v. Arkansas 38-20||-||-||Won|
|2013||Sept. 21||Win @ UCF 28-25||Nov. 9||Win v. Florida 19-14||Won|
Now, what observations can we make?
Versus All Opponents After a Bye - Including the win over Furman this year, since 1984 we are a fairly mediocre 18-17 in the game following a bye; against Clemson immediately out of the bye we're only 1-2; against ranked post-bye opponents, we are a nauseating 2-15.
A big part of that, of course, was the stretch from 1993-2000 where our one and only bye came before the Florida game. During this period, Steve Spurrier's Gators were always ranked and usually in the top 5. Once the NCAA went to twelve regular-season games starting in 2002, we were able to break out of that trap. I cannot tell you how many times the Gamecocks gave a tremendous first quarter or first half effort against the Gators only to have our hearts torn out by the Ball Coach's Blue and Orange squads. The toll it took on us against Clemson (2-5) during that time period was an obvious result.
Before the current reign of Lord Spurrier here in Columbia, the two biggest after-bye victories that stand out were both against Mississippi State. The first was in 1992 when, during our first SEC season, Sparky Woods' team improbably beat Jackie Sherrill's # 15 State squad after USC had a disastrous 0-5 start and a player revolt to boot. The next was in 2001 - in the first football game (pro or college) following the 911 attacks (a scheduled ESPN Thursday-nighter); but for the suspension of CFB in the wake of the attacks, we would not have had a bye the previous weekend - we were supposed to have played Bowling Green; we ended up scheduling Wofford during the traditional pre-Florida open week to give us 11 games.
Under the HBC - Versus All Opponents After a Bye - Just like with his record against AP Top 10 opponents, Steve Spurrier's record coming out of a bye is the best in the modern (post Rex Enright) Gamecock era - 10-2. The only two blemishes are when we scheduled byes immediately before the Clemson game in '07 and '08 (thanks Mike Slive), though he did win the '09 CU tilt - the last year we scheduled the bye so late. The 2010 win over # 1 Alabama coming off the bye remains one of the signature victories of the HBC's tenure.
Does a November Bye Help or Hurt Against Clemson?
As previously discussed, we are 1-2 when playing CU immediately out of a bye. Including times we've had a November bye (not necessarily before Big Saturday) we're 6-8. Under Spurrier, that record is just 3-2, though, the last three have been wins.
As we look forward to the UF game, can we deduce any trends?
We have been flawless post-bye since 2009. Plus, for what it's worth, the Visor has not lost to a SEC opponent after an off-week since taking over the reins at Carolina.
At the beginning of the season, I'd have been ready to bet we'd have an excellent chance to continue those streaks at the Swamp ... especially having two byes in the same season, the first time we have ever enjoyed that luxury in back to back campaigns in more than a generation.
Unfortunately, 2014 has defied not merely expectations in the win-loss column but the 4th quarter swoons have become the rule rather than the exception. Plus, the Gators seemed to have found against UGA a running game that should play well against our biggest defensive weakness (I would not read too much into their win over the Dores at Nashville either way).
For all the talk of Will Muschamp having been a "dead man walking" the Gators are sitting better off than us at 5-3 (4-3). If we want to eke out a seven win season, we need to hope the HBC's winning ways following a bye to continue to hold up.