As the 2015 season marches towards its likely dismal close on Saturday against the hated Clemson Tigers, many in Gamecock nation are taking to the interwebs to talk about how this is the worst season ever. Naturally, many respond that, while this season has been in many respects a tire fire, it's probably not worse than 1998 or 1999.
This point has been debated, with some pointing out that the 1998 team had no expectations and the 1999 team was decimated by injuries and had help coming. Meanwhile, people had high hopes for the 2015 bunch, particularly after it opened the season with a win over North Carolina (although at the time, folks were worried we'd barely beaten the Heels - how times have changed).
The Gamecocks played 11 games in both 1998 and 1999, and are 11 games into their season for 2015. With that in mind, let's look at how each of these 11-game blocks compare to one another:
|Avg. opp. score||30.0||25.3||26.6|
|Avg. SEC score||16.1||7.9||20.1|
|Avg. SEC opp. score||32.3||27.0||30.4|
|Ws by 14+ pts.||1||0||2|
|Ws by 8-14 pts.||0||0||0|
|Ws by 1-7 pts.||0||0||1|
|Ls by 1-7 pts.||4||1||4|
|Ls by 8-14 pts.||3||2||2|
|Ls by 15-21 pts.||1||5||1|
|Ls by 22+ pts.||2||3||1|
If you haven't already made up your mind, you'd be forgiven for wondering why anyone would think 1998 or 1999 would be better than this season. For starters, we've won some games this year! That already puts us ahead of 1999 just by winning at all, and ahead of 1998 because we also have an SEC win as well as twice as many out-of-conference wins (two versus one).
In addition, when you look at how well the team has played in its games, it's clear the 2015 team has been much more competitive than the teams from the 1990s. There have only been two games decided by more than two scores - the disaster in Athens and our "home" game against LSU. Meanwhile, there were 3 and 6 such games in 1998 and 1999. And, once again - those seasons involved two less wins (combined) than this season.
The 1998 team looks somewhat similar in that it has similar results in the losses - each had four losses decided by 1-7 points, and a similar number of games decided by 8-21 points. The difference? The 2015 Gamecocks won two more games.
I know this season sucks, and we're all upset. But let's not get crazy. 1998 and 1999 were awful. This is bad, but it ain't that bad.