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Over/under: Breaking down South Carolina’s 2021 win total

How many wins should we expect in Shane Beamer’s first year?

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Gamecocks are coming into this season with many questions. Is this a team on the rise? When will Luke Doty be back? When he is back, will he look better than last season? Will the Gamecocks succeed or simply tread water until his return? Was last year’s struggles more so because of a lack of talent or a diminishing will to succeed? How quickly will the culture change under first-year head coach Shane Beamer?

Well, it’s hard to know until we see this team step on the field for real, and to be completely honest, we may not even get a real answer until week two when the Gamecocks play their first *real* opponent (the Cocks can’t struggle too much against Eastern Illinois… right?).

The Gamecocks’ over/under for wins this year is set at 3.5, with the over being more heavily favored than the under.

I don’t know if I’m the only one who feels this way here or if I’m just being an optimist, but when I look at that number, I get confused.

The Gamecocks managed to pull off two conference wins in a 2020 season where things simply couldn’t get much worse. So, you’re telling me that the Cocks can’t either add two non-conference wins this year or win one non-conference game and snag one more SEC win than last year?

In my mind, I can write in two wins already no matter how bad this team may be: Eastern Illinois and Vanderbilt. I then have a good number of schools in the “maybe” category like East Carolina, Kentucky, Troy, Tennessee, Missouri and Auburn. Finally, the teams in my “no shot” category are Georgia, Texas A&M, Florida and Clemson.

I am in no way, shape or form calling for this to be a bowl year, but I feel like if a team can’t even get four wins (in a full season), why are you even in the SEC (yes, I’m aware Vanderbilt exists)? That embarrassment has only happened to the Gamecocks one time since the turn of the century.

I don’t care if the team just had a change in leadership and are surrounded by uncertainty. I would not feel comfortable betting on something that has only happened one time since 2000, and everyone knows the circumstances surrounding what happened that one year I’m referring to.

As for the play on the field, what we’re looking at is, frankly, not fantastic, but there are a few diamonds in the rough.

The Gamecocks may very well have one of the best running back rooms in the SEC with Kevin Harris and MarShawn Lloyd in addition to a front seven filled with players who have spent a good amount of time in the college game.

There have also been (in my opinion) massive upgrades on the coaching staff that I believe will do a better job of maximizing the talent on the roster in comparison to past years.

South Carolina has an… experienced Week 1 quarterback in Zeb Noland who has been around top tier quarterback play firsthand and a younger quarterback in Luke Doty who is loaded with potential – or at least it seems.

If the talent isn’t there quite yet to fill the holes of the players who got drafted this past year, the culture is getting there.

That should be enough to get the Gamecocks to at least four wins no matter what the year throws at them.

If I had to pick a number, I expect exactly four wins for South Carolina this season. Nothing to get excited about but a number that would at least let you cash a winning ticket.