We may just be three games into the 2021 campaign, but last night the SEC released the conference’s full football schedules for next year (by way of an absurdly long and drawn out special on SEC Network, but let’s not talk about that part). As fans, it’s never too early to look ahead, so let’s see what our South Carolina Gamecocks are up against in 2022.
- The season opener is against Shawn Elliott’s Georgia State Panthers. Not surprising to see this particular out-of-conference opponent on the slate, as both he and Shane Beamer were assistants under Steve Spurrier. This is a nice olive branch of sorts.
- Arkansas as the SEC opener in Week 2 is quite an interesting change of pace. The Gamecocks, formerly permanent “rivals” with the Hawgs, came away victorious 48-22 when the teams last played in 2017. Both programs are in very different places now, though, with the Razorbacks so far looking like a team on the rise this year.
- UNC Charlotte — they’re gonna be mad they were listed like this, since they’re insisting on being known as just “Charlotte” now — is perhaps an overdue addition to the OOC schedule, given the importance of that area to South Carolina’s recruiting. They’re still a very young football program, but starting to show some flashes with a win over Duke this season.
- After a couple unusual years with no smaller in-state programs on the docket, S.C. State returns to represent that contingent.
- Six straight SEC games before Clemson, including the return of the “Orange Crush” (Florida, Tennessee, Clemson). I don’t really love either of those things! Typically, the Gamecocks have performed better against the Tigers when they’ve been able to schedule a bye or OOC opponent the week before, but I guess in recent years, that really hasn’t mattered as much.
- Speaking of byes, this year it falls between a trip to Kentucky and hosting Texas A&M. Again, I wish it were coming later in the season — or that the UNCC and S.C. State games weren’t back-to-back — but it is what it is.
- No Alabama, though! Whew.
Overall, this feels like a decent schedule. Some may disagree, but I like the aggressiveness with scheduling some easy wins — we simply don’t need to be making our lives harder right now with multiple Power 5 opponents outside of SEC play. What do y’all think about it?