The 2021 season for the Gamecocks was a year defined by overachieving.
It was the start of the Beamer Ball era for South Carolina, and while there was a positive sentiment coming into year one, the coaching staff had to deal with a gutted roster due to standouts from the year prior either deciding to go pro or ditch the program out of loyalty to former head coach Will Muschamp.
Even with those “standouts,” the Cocks only mustered two wins out of ten games in 2020. So, expectations were at rock bottom coming into 2021.
Long story short, South Carolina managed to not only qualify for the postseason, but also win a bowl game despite having no clear answer at quarterback, a below average offensive line and a struggling receiver room.
The Gamecocks finished with seven victories when Vegas had them slotted for only 3.5 wins.
This year, things are much different.
South Carolina is a team banging on the door and a destination players are lining up to play for, just ask University of Oklahoma transfer and former five-star recruit Spencer Rattler.
Apparently, all that hype adds up to a difference of only 2.5 wins, at least according to Vegas.
The betting win total of the Gamecocks is currently set at an even six wins (regular season only), according to DraftKings Sportsbook, where the odds for the over cashing is set at -160 and the under at +135.
So, despite all the talented transfers, commitments and increasing experience of the coaching staff, South Carolina is slated to perform… the same?
Much like last year, I’m very confused with this line.
To spell out my thought process a bit, I’m going to divide this year’s opponents into three categories: definite win, could go either way, and definite loss.
In the “definite win” category, I have Georgia State, Charlotte, South Carolina State and Vanderbilt (already four wins!!!).
If the Cocks could sweep their non-conference schedule – with the exception of Clemson – last season with that roster and a rookie head coach, what stops them from doing the same in 2022?
And then there’s Vanderbilt.
In the “maybe” category, I have Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Florida and Tennessee.
Exchanging a six-win Auburn team for an eight-win Arkansas squad on the schedule is a tough blow that may even cost the Cocks a win, but facing a Florida team in shambles from the fallout of 2021, a Tennessee team that always enters the season with hope but exits it with disappointment and a Missouri team that usually plays South Carolina rather closely (especially at Williams-Brice Stadium) should be enough to get them over that six-win hump.
I haven’t ruled out a win over Kentucky either, although traveling to Lexington and escaping with a win will be a tall task and is something the Cocks have not accomplished since 2012.
In the “definite loss” category, I have Georgia, Texas A&M and Clemson.
Georgia is college football’s defending champion, Texas A&M has NEVER lost to USC and Clemson still has South Carolina’s number until proven otherwise.
If I had to pick how many wins the Cocks rack up in 2022, I would say seven. It may not be that much of an improvement over last season, but it would still be enough to cash a winning ticket.
I would not be shocked either if South Carolina eclipses an eight or nine-win total and proceeds to take the SEC by storm.
Either way, take the over.