After the long offseason, it’s finally almost time for Carolina football! The GABA staff got together to bring you our predictions for what will happen against NC State on Saturday.
Thomas: Eh, I’m gonna be pretty short and sweet with this one. I think this is going to be a low scoring ballgame. NC State’s defense is obviously very good, and I think our D will improve tremendously since we have Skai Moore back. I go into every game thinking South Carolina will win, so I’m going to do the same with this one. 20-13 Carolina. Book it.
Matt: The Gamecocks won a big game against UNC in 2015 at Charlotte. I look for them to win their third straight home opener, in another low scoring game. The key matchup will be the Gamecocks’ offensive line vs. the Wolfpack’s strong defensive line. Also, look for a huge game from Skai Moore, who is playing for the first time since 2015. He is going to bring a lot of energy to that defense.
Demetri: I think the Cocks are gonna lose this one, but this may be a bizzaro 2015 type of thing. That season started with a win over a team that turned out to be pretty good and was followed by a season I think we’d all like to forget. I think State wins 31-24 because our team will still be going through some growing pains, but it won’t be indicative of what to expect from Carolina the entire season. Like I said in the season round table, I think it is very reasonable to think that our regular season record will be 6-6 again, but that this team will be much improved, both in terms of quality and standing within the SEC.
Kody: I think this is a bad matchup for South Carolina, but as Demetri said, a loss will likely not be an indictment of this team’s quality or a death knell for the season. N.C. State is a couple years ahead of the Gamecocks in the building process and is loaded with experienced upperclassmen, especially on the defensive line -- which could wreak havoc on South Carolina’s offensive line, one of the shakiest position groups on the roster. While it’s true the Wolfpack has holes in the secondary, that won’t matter if Jake Bentley can’t get a clean pocket. There’s also some cause for concern on special teams, since there’s not an experienced or clear-cut starter at kicker. Throw in the fact that USC traditionally plays poorly in openers and unfortunately I just don’t see a lot to love here. I’m gonna go with N.C. State in a 21-13 type of slugfest.
Sydney: I made my pick in my “Keys and a Pick” piece for this week, but just to kind of reiterate, I feel N.C. State just has a little more talent than South Carolina. It’s not to say that the Gamecocks don’t match up well (because they do), but the Pack have a little more talent in areas where the Gamecocks don’t. 27-24 N.C. State in a close one.
Katie: Other than agreeing with the low-scoring game predictions, I have literally no reason for saying this except I want South Carolina to win: Gamecocks 17, N.C. State 14.
DC3: NC State’s strong points match up with South Carolina’s weak points and vice versa in a matchup tailor-made to make you put your mortgage on the ‘under’. However, something about week one, coupled with the strange nature of Gamecock openers on neutral ground mean there's going to be something wacky that will blow that theory to shreds. The Wolfpack has a very competent line on both sides, and while their WR play is suspect, they've got a bonafide rockstar in Jaylen Samuels. Hold the line (offense)? Gamecocks can spread around the ball to talented receivers against a suspect secondary and open up the run game. Hold the line (defense)? Gamecocks can try to contain a prolific HBack, which they haven't done in years.
Ultimately, the game will come down to who is better conditioned. A low scoring first-half gives way to a sloppy, entertaining second.
Verdict: Carolina fights back from an early 7-3 deficit only to run out of time, 24-28, on the final drive.
Kaci: I feel fairly confident about predicting that this will be an ugly game. I don’t feel confident predicting what exactly will happen in it because it seems likely to be a weird one and it’s so hard to really know what to expect from two teams that haven’t played a down of football yet. But I think Carolina will pull of a close victory as the slight underdogs and get something like a 27-24 win.