That's right people. We're a mere 90 days away from a football being kicked inside Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium. As we make preparations for our neutral site Battle of the Carolinas, let's take a brief moment to look at the Gamecocks' upcoming schedule for 2015-2016 season.
September 3: vs. North Carolina (in Charlotte, NC)
The Tar Heels will provide a tough test for whatever unseasoned quarterback Steve Spurrier and the rest of the staff decide to throw out there. So it should make for an interesting evening. Look for the offense to rely on a heavy dose of Brandon Wilds and Co. to carry the load and for immediate improvements along the defensive front. I expect five sacks from Marquavius Lewis. And you should too.
September 12: vs. Kentucky
Any other season and this game could serve as a potential trap game as it comes early in the season with the team still searching for an identity and a trip to Athens looming in the near future. But given what ensued last season, and the hatred many players and fans have for the Wildcats and JoJo Kemp, I'm excited they are serving as this season's home opener. I think we'll all be fired up to give Kentucky a little taste of revenge from last year's heartache.
September 19: at Georgia
Year in and year out this game seems to be a toss up as much as any other. It'll be hard to top the excitement last year's rain dance provided, and with both teams facing a question mark at quarterback, look for a grind-it-out type battle between the backs. Let's just hope USC's defense is improved enough to hold serve and limit Nick Chubb from having a week three Heisman moment.
September 26: vs. UCF
Just as we'll look for pay-back against Kentucky, UCF will come in to Columbia with a feeling of unfinished business hanging on their shoulders. While the Knights took a step back last year after the departure of Blake Bortles, the only thing between them and perfect 2013 season was a lone blemish in the form of a three point loss to the Gamecocks. They'll be looking to play spoiler once again.
October 3: at Missouri
The slightest attempt to preview this game brings a scratchy throat and teary eyes. Who would've thought last year's one point loss at home was just a sign of worse things to come? After a a 31-10 shellacking in the inaugural "Mayor's Cup," the drama has yet to stop in this series. I wouldn't be mad if it ceased in our favor this year.
October 10: vs. LSU
In potentially the biggest conference home game of the season, the LSU Tigers come to town hopefully with their eyes looking ahead to Florida. The Tigers' schedule lines up nicely for a trip to Columbia with consecutive weeks of cupcake match-ups between Syracuse and Eastern Michigan (Sorry Orange Nation). As much as any fan would enjoy a late night start to this one, I'll happily take a noon start with the hopes of lethargy taking over the visitor's locker room.
October 17: vs. Vanderbilt
In a much needed breather before we take the road for two weeks, my only hope for this one is that our special teams doesn't piss off the HBC as much as they did last year. It's by no means a guaranteed win, but I feel comfortable as it's on our own turf.
October 31: at Texas A&M
More chills remembering the thrill of Kenny Hill. Hill has since left, but Kyle Allen is even better. With Halloween comes weird things. Maybe we can sneak out of Kyle Field with a win. Maybe.
November 7: at Tennessee
2015 may be our year to ruin the Volunteers' season the same way they did to us the past two seasons. While Media Days have yet to take place, I wouldn't be surprised if the Butch Jones project is picked to win the East. That's not to say the project is completed, but there's definite suave surrounding this team.
November 14: vs. Florida
With Will Muschamp out and Jim McElwain in, gone are the days of offensive ineptitude for the Gators. Under McElwain, this year's Gator squad will encompass an entirely different philosophy from year's past. You know, one that values points and completions. While they're sure to provide an even tougher test, it'll be welcomed as a breathe of fresh air.
November 21: vs. The Citadel
Not to sound like a complete and utter pessimist, but this late season matchup with the FCS Bulldogs is the only sure win on this year's schedule. I promise I am a Gamecock fan.
November 28: vs. Clemson
Much to my dismay, Clemson may enjoy a more fruitful season. While my thoughts for this season aren't completely ominous, my expectations aren't through the roof, either. Certainly this team will have much more to prove than last year's, and will come into the season ready to wrong the doubters. While I'd love just as much as the next die heard to get the win streak renewed, part of me thinks we're in the middle of a three year era of DeSahun dominance. I hope that part of me is wrong.