Earlier today Jason Kirk, SB Nation's College Football Editor, released his bowl projections for all the postseason games. To nobody's surprise Jason had teams like the LSU Tigers, Clemson Tigers, Michigan Wolverines and the TCU Horned Frogs in his CFB playoff projections.
However, there were some projections that may be a little surprising to some. One of these was Jason putting the South Carolina Gamecocks in the Music City Bowl against the Iowa Hawkeyes. This would have the Gamecocks finishing anywhere from 3rd to 8th in the SEC; however, I think the Gamecocks, if they were to go to the Music City Bowl, would finish anywhere from 6-8 wins in the regular season and 5th-7th in the conference standings. So where might the Gamecocks find 6 wins on their 2016 schedule? Let's take a look at the games that I think the Gamecocks could, and should, win.
Week 1: Vanderbilt
I know the Vanderbilt Commodores are supposed to be improved this year. But this is still Vanderbilt and, while they have surprised us in the past and are certainly capable of beating us, I do think this is as about a forgiving conference/season opener that the Will Muschamp led Gamecocks could ask for. Expect a low scoring game, but Carolina will win this one.
Week 3: ECU
The East Carolina Pirates are another football team that has always been a bit of a thorn in our side. They gave us a bit of a scare in 2014, but still didn't have enough firepower to beat the Gamecocks despite South Carolina having a really bad defense that year. With both programs being under new leadership I think the Gamecocks pull this one out at home.
Week 4: Kentucky
This might be a more emotional pick because we've found a way to lose to the Kentucky Wildcats two years running. I think it's high time that we beat these guys. I also think a Will Muschamp led defense will be competent enough to stop the same Wildcat play 3 or 4 times in a row.
Week 8: UMass Minutemen
This should be the one of the easier wins during Will Muschamp's first season. UMass has not had the smoothest of transitions to the FBS ranks and, in front of 80,000 Gamecock fans, I think the Gamecocks will pull away in the 2nd half and win this one fairly easily.
Week 10: Missouri Tigers
With the retirement of Gary Pinkel and the hiring of Barry Odom, the Missouri are yet another team in the SEC East under new leadership. In fact the Tigers may be in a worse position than us, talent wise. Mark this one down as a fairly close game with the Gamecocks scoring late to put the game away.
Week 12: Western Carolina Catamounts
I know, I know. We lost to The Citadel last year. But there are a couple reasons history won't repeat itself in 2016. WCU doesn't run one of those finicky triple-option attacks. Their spread attack is more conventional and our defense should be able to handle it fairly easily. Also, if our offense can't get something going against WCU then it's likely going to be a long season. But, with this win the Gamecocks will be at the 6 win mark and clinch a trip to a bowl game.
Toss Up Game: Mississippi State Bulldogs
With Dak Prescott gone to the NFL, I think we are perfectly capable of beating the Bulldogs. Dak was their entire offensive identity the last couple of seasons. However Starkville is a hard place to play for a young offense. And with the likelihood of Brandon McIlwain seeing extended playing time early, don't be surprised if our offense struggles.
So there you have it. I think you should feel (sort of) confident for marking us down for 6 wins, maybe 7. What do you guys think? Let us know in the comments!