With the bye week upon us, the South Carolina Gamecocks are sitting with a 3-3 (2-3 SEC) record, and are alone in fourth place in the Eastern Division standings. While this isn’t a particularly inspiring record, it’s also not as heinous as the fan base’s current mood would have you believe — especially since two of the losses were ones most folks had chalked up in the preseason (Georgia and Texas A&M). Of course, falling for the fifth straight year in a row to the Aggies and also Kentucky was hard to watch, and the Gamecocks were denied a chance at a feel-good rebound after Georgia when their date with Marshall was canceled because of Hurricane Florence. Ultimately, despite having played six games, this South Carolina team still feels like an enigma. With roughly half a season of football left, let’s take a look at the remaining schedule.
Well, uh, this game suddenly looks a lot more tricky than it did a couple weeks ago. The Volunteers got off to a rough start this season, continuing their woeful play from 2017, and had many thinking they were cruising for another 0-8 mark in the SEC. Suddenly, the Vols came up with a shocking upset of Auburn, topping the Tigers in Jordan-Hare Stadium as the college football world looked on with no small amount of astonishment. New coach Jeremy Pruitt now already has a signature win, and UT has a bit of its swagger back as a result. This still feels like a game South Carolina “should” win, but these Halloween matchups with Tennessee tend to get a little spooky.
at Ole Miss
This could be a wild one. The Rebels, who opened the season with a batshit entertaining win over Texas Tech, are true to their usual brand and sporting a fancy offense with absolutely no semblance of a defense. Although Ole Miss is fourth in the West, it’s got a solid 5-2 record, with its only defeats coming to division heavyweights Alabama and LSU. Given that this one is on the road, I’d have to lean toward the Rebels here, but South Carolina shouldn’t be counted completely out. In terms of how the game itself unfolds, it kind of feels like there are two options: It’ll either be a crazy shootout, or the final score is something like 16-9. Really, it’s going to be kind of bizarre all on its own just to watch the Gamecocks against this team, considering it’s been almost a decade.
I can’t make heads or tails out of this Florida team, and I’m not really sure anyone else can either. The Gators have enjoyed quite a bit of hype since Dan Mullen returned to lead the program, and UF has been yo-yoing up and down the Top 25 rankings based on its somewhat erratic performance. The Gators committed the sin of finally losing to Kentucky and breaking a 31-year winning streak over the Wildcats, but then shocked a top-5 LSU squad on the road — and then proceeded to struggle mightily with Vanderbilt, although they eventually put the Commodores away. Regardless, the Gators are currently tied with Georgia for first in the East with a 4-1 record, and it’s all just kind of annoying. South Carolina has a chance in this one, but it’ll be tough at the Swamp, and it depends at least partially on which Florida team shows up. Will it be the Gators that gutted out a massive win against LSU, or the ones that flailed their way to a 13-6 victory against a decent Mississippi State?
This is the closest thing to a sure win the Gamecocks have left on the schedule, which yeah, is a scary thing to think about for too long. The 5-2 Mocs have been having a solid year, currently sitting at 3-2 in the Southern Conference, but they’re an FCS squad and should not challenge South Carolina. (Emphasis on “should.” [I’m joking. Mostly.])
Our friends in the Upstate have been having kind of an interesting season. The Tigers are undefeated, but not quite running roughshod through their schedule — both Texas A&M and Syracuse put a serious scare into them, and they actually caught some negative PR for once with their quarterback drama. But Trevor Lawrence seems to be settling in just fine as the starter, and realistically speaking, there isn’t anyone else who can challenge them in their division or the ACC. The Tigers might end up in another close game or two, but they’ve got some serious mojo on their side (yet another thing they stole from Auburn?). A College Football Playoff berth feels all but imminent, even though this isn’t Clemson’s strongest team of late.
Anyway, all that to say: Better luck next year. Hopefully.
I’m just gonna be real here: It’s a little ridiculous that South Carolina still has yet to schedule a makeup game for the Marshall cancellation, and hasn’t even given an update about plans to do so. The Gamecocks have no chance at playing in Atlanta on Dec. 1, and unfortunately, they might need this “extra” game to become bowl eligible. I suppose the administration could be waiting to see if Marshall will also be free that day, since the Herd is more involved in their conference title hunt — and there aren’t many other teams that will be available. Let’s hope that’s what it is, and not that the athletic department is taking a nap.