The South Carolina Gamecocks open their season tonight against the Georgia State Panthers, setting up a reunion between former Steve Spurrier staffers in Shane Beamer vs. Shawn Elliott. Fans will finally get their first look at ballyhooed transfer quarterback Spencer Rattler, and after a brief detour into another identity, Sir Big Spur will be back on the sidelines as well. Here’s how the GABA gang sees things going down.
Kody: I’m so curious to see this game for a number of reasons – the coaching storylines and Rattler’s performance are among the most intriguing, of course, but I also want to see how this team fares in its second opener under Beamer, especially when there are greater expectations after coming off a solid seven-win season capped with a bowl victory. This team has overall looked more prepared with Beamer than with Muschamp, but the shocking meltdown against Clemson last season showed there’s still room to grow in that area. The Gamecocks have traditionally been sluggish and disoriented in their openers, and Georgia State has a veteran squad that isn’t likely to be pushed around like the typical cupcake. I think the 12.5-point spread here is fair, though if Rattler does indeed bring the talent and skill to this offense that his pedigree would imply, USC could establish control and pull away early. I like something along the lines of a 31-14 Gamecock victory, but I’d love to be wrong and see Rattler & Co. hand out a tail-cuttin’.
Brent: There are so many factors that make this game a very intriguing one. I don’t think many of us thought the 2022 opener against Georgia State would be all that anticipated when it was put on the schedule, but it is hard to recall a more anticipated home-opener for the Gamecocks since 2014 for a number of reasons. First, there is the much anticipated debut of Spencer Rattler at quarterback for the Gamecocks. In my lifetime I do not remember there being this much buildup to a player’s debut, and that includes Marcus Lattimore and Jadeveon Clowney. Second, there is the return of Shawn Elliott leading a roster full of South Carolinians. Third, how will the Gamecocks handle a big environment at home? In recent years, they have not performed well at all in big home game environments for whatever reason. Williams Brice Stadium will have a bit of a new look with in-game improvements for the fans, including LED lights and a new sound system. The game is now reportedly a sellout. Do the Gamecocks use the crowd to their favor? Lastly, the spread on this game is intriguing to look at. I have no idea what to make of it. As Kody said, 12.5 seems fair. The Panthers are a very experienced, talented, and motivated football team. I could see Carolina hanging right around that line and covering late, covering easily, or they don’t come close to covering at all. I honestly have no idea. But I will put my cards on the table and predict the Gamecocks to win 37-28. I will be happy to be 1-0 heading to Fayetteville next week, no matter the score.
Katie: I am yet again here to serve as GABA’s resident football optimist, so I am also predicting a victory on Saturday night. It would be nice if the game was decided by halftime or at least the third quarter so we could just relax for a bit to ease ourselves into the season, but even I won’t go that far. Like Kody and Brent pointed out, there are some potential pitfalls at play here and you can never quite rule out the Gamecocks being the Gamecocks, so this game probably won’t be a blowout. It will hopefully be a good test before SEC play starts next week, though. With another year of instruction from Beamer and co. and the addition of key players from the transfer portal, there’s a lot of potential for this team to do as well or better than last season’s squad. We got Sir Big Spur back as a precursor to the season, now let’s start it off on the right foot with a solid win.
Matt: I always like to come into game one with lofty expectations no matter what happened the year prior. South Carolina did win a bowl game to close out the 2021 season and this is potentially the most talented roster (with the most talented quarterback) the Cocks have donned in the past few seasons, but being great “on paper” doesn’t always work out as it should. What if we see the Spencer Rattler from 2021 as opposed to the one we are expecting from 2020? I always point to the “dream team” Philadelphia Eagles as to what taught me to not count my eggs before they hatch, and I will not do the same here. Every casual fan is pointing to this game as an easy win, and I’ll even go as far as saying it won’t be. I think we will see that hungry Georgia State team from last season, and it will be a tough, evenly matched game through probably the first three quarters. South Carolina will then ride the home crowd for a strong final act en route to a 34-17 Gamecock victory.