Few thought South Carolina would enter week two fighting to stay in the top 25 with a win against East Carolina. Yet here we are. The Pirates' offense that is a close enough facsimile of what Texas A&M ran in week one that, for better or worse, we should emerge from this contest with a good sense of how well the Gamecocks' players and coaches are able to adjust from week to week.
ECU doesn't have anywhere near the skill or line talent that A&M does, but the Pirates aren't completely talentless either. Senior quarterback Shane Carden posted a 33:10 touchdown to interception ratio, completing 70 percent of his passing attempts for 4,139 yards. His favorite target in 2013 was 6'0, 186-pound receiver Justin Hardy. Carden threw the ball Hardy's way on 28.2 percent of his pass attempts, which he turned into 1,284 receiving yards.
While most of the conversation has focused on how ECU's passing game matches up against South Carolina's secondary, the Gamecocks have favorable matchups elsewhere on the football field. East Carolina was in the bottom third of the country when it came to defending the pass, and the Pirates are without their top three defensive backs from a year ago. On the offensive side of the ball, they are having to replace three-fifths of their starting offensive line.
One thing that should deeply concern South Carolina fans is that East Carolina's 2013 offense was the 16th-most efficient in the country. In the same manner that Texas A&M shredded the Gamecocks last week, the Pirates rarely hit explosive downfield plays but methodically picked their way to the red zone. And when they got into the red zone, they were among the best teams in the country at finishing drives.
How to witness
7:00 p.m. ET, Williams-Brice Stadium (Columbia, S.C.)
Channel: ESPNU or ESPN3
Play-by-play: Anish Shroff
Analysis: Kelly Stouffer
Sideline: Cara Capuano
Channel: Gamecock IMG Sports Network or Sirius 119/XM 203
Play-by-play: Todd Ellis
Analysis: Tommy Suggs
Sideline: Langston Moore
Rankings and records: South Carolina enters the game 0-1 and ranked No. 21 in both major polls. The Gamecocks have been ranked in each of the past 66 AP Top 25 polls, dating back to the 2010 season. Their streak of consecutive weeks in the polls is bested by only four other teams: Alabama (100), LSU (83), Oregon (79), and Oklahoma (67). A loss to East Carolina would almost certainly bring South Carolina's streak to an end. East Carolina is 1-0 in unranked in both the AP poll and the Amway Coaches Poll.
Vegas: South Carolina opened as a 17-point favorite but the spread has drifted slightly downward to 15. The over/under is 65.5.
Weather forecast: At kickoff it will be 84 degrees with a chance of scattered thunderstorms.