It’s been a very long, very strange trip, but the most bizarre and challenging offseason we’ve seen is finally behind us as our South Carolina Gamecocks welcome the Tennessee Volunteers to Columbia on Saturday night for the first of their 10-game SEC schedule. Nothing is normal in 2020, and nothing is ever normal in UT-USC games anyway. The GABA crew takes a stab at what we think we’ll see unfold at Williams-Brice.
Matt: This Tennessee matchup has created some CLOSE games in recent years, although the last time we saw these two teams play resulted in a final score that didn’t reflect that. The thing is, this is a different team. This South Carolina team apparently has an improvement in the quarterback department, if we believe the reports out of practice. Also, I don’t view the running back committee of Harris and Fenwick as much of a downgrade either considering the inconsistent play of Dowdle and Feaster. In the end, people have been trying to sell the Tennessee hype for years now, and I have no reason to believe it’s true yet. Also, good luck throwing to any receiver being shadowed by Horn or Mukuamu, Jarrett Guarantano. I guarantee one pick. Give me South Carolina in a close one 27-24.
Katie: In these trying, turbulent times, I think it’s nice to find a sense of normalcy wherever we can - which is why I’m here to predict the Gamecocks will win. Y’all know my role here by now, and even in this bonkers year, I will not shy away from my position as GABA’s resident sports optimist. That being said, this year is a mess and I don’t expect football to be any different, so there will probably be at least three WHAT WAS THAT moments during this one. A win is a win, though, and I’m calling for one.
Adam: When operating at 100%, Williams-Brice is undoubtedly the best player on a team that is otherwise riddled with question marks. Unfortunately for the Gamecocks, Willy B will be severely limited due to Covid going into Saturday’s clash with Tennessee. That said, I do believe South Carolina’s actual roster is talented enough to molly wop an egrigiously over-hyped Vols team under the lights. Have no doubt - this game will be as ugly and anxiety-inducing as they come, but this year’s slugfest will go to the good guys: 20-13.
Demetri: What does it matter? We’re all dying. Go out there, enjoy the big bronze chicken and have some fun at a safe social distance. Tennessee by multiple scores. Let’s say 34-9. I have next to no confidence in the Cocks this year.
Kody: I’m not quite as fatalistic as Demetri, but not as optimistic as the rest of the gang either. Given the unholy combination of first-game jitters, new personnel for the Cocks (including a new offensive coordinator), a Tennessee squad that saw a run of COVID derail its training camp at one point, and general 2020 oddities, this is likely gonna be a slopfest that possibly sets an even higher bar for how weird games in this series can be. I agree with Adam that UT is a bit overhyped, but with so many questions on the Carolina side of things, it’s nonetheless hard for me to feel confident that we come away with this one. I’m gonna go 23-13 Vols.