We have suffered some epic beat-downs in season openers, but does the curb-stomping we received from Texas A&M top the charts over the past 50 years? I am afraid the answer is "yes."
Ranked #9 in the AP preseason top 25, we surrender the most yards ever in program history to # 21 A&M and lose by 24 at home. This game comes first because it was home; it broke our home winning streak at W-B and our season-opener winning streak; it was the first game of the SECN; and so many pundits picked us as a NC contender. It could have easily been 59-28 - or worse but for a few pass interference calls against the Aggies. Basically, this was the dagger in the back of program-best 33-6 run from 2010-2013.
With Brad Scott in his second season, we were unranked and feeling salty after losing a close one to UGA in '94 and also winning our first bowl game later in the year. Unfortunately, we were rudely introduced to the talented Robert Edwards and lost 42-15 to the Athenians; at 27 points, it is still the largest margin of defeat in an opening game in USC's last 50 years, but at least it was on the road and no one outside of Columbia thought much of us.
The hurricane game played against NC State at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh. It was Lou Holtz's first season with Carolina, and of course you remember we were 1-10 from 1998. We got blanked 10-0 in a driving rain - but we had our chance in the second half. While only a 10 point loss on the scoreboard, it would lead to a 0-11 season. At least it was on the road.
Another road loss, this to the Miami Hurricanes 34-15 with Coach Joe Morrison at the helm. A nineteen point loss seems almost close after tonight. We would finish 3-6-2.
Paul Dietzel takes the Cocks to Baton Rouge to face his old team - the LSU Tigers. The Bayou Bengals crush us 28-12 - just a sixteen point margin. We would finish 1-9 - our worst season ever until the back-to-back calamities of 1999-2000.
Another 16 point defeat on opening day to the UNC Tarheels, 24-8. We can't even blame this one on Lawrence Taylor because he was long gone from Chapel Hill. The Sporting News said we had the toughest schedule in the country - and it would show with our 5-6 record.
And in program history?
The 60-0 shut out surrendered to Duke in 1945 - played in Durham - remains the worst opening day defeat ever for USC with our largest margin of defeat on opening day, too.
Georgia also whipped us 38-0 in 1911; Virginia clobbered us 54-0 in 1913; Clemson smoked us 39-0 in 1918.
Arguably, the 2014 A&M game is one of the top 5 opening day losses ever suffered by Carolina.
For happier memories please check out South Carolina Gamecocks Football: Best Opener in the Last 50 years Part 1 and Part 2 ... plus South Carolina Gamecocks Football: Looking inside USC's Opening Day Numbers.