South Carolina released its finalized 2018 schedule earlier this week, and at first glance, it looks like the most favorable slate in years.
A few things to note:
- The out-of-conference schedule could not possibly be easier (with the exception of our friends in Clemson, of course). Coastal Carolina, Marshall, and Chattanooga is not exactly a murderer’s row, nor would it impress the playoff committee. But the Gamecocks aren’t there yet — they’re just trying to get some wins, and this is certainly a good way to do it.
- That Coastal matchup will be the first time the Gamecocks have opened the season with a non-Power 5 opponent since 2011 and the first time they open at home since 2014. It’ll be nice to (hopefully) get that stress-free tune-up like everyone else does.
- The Georgia game is back where it belongs in the second week of the season.
- South Carolina is at home for the first three weeks, and also the entire month of October (excluding the bye week, which falls after Texas A&M and before Tennessee).
- The conference road schedule is navigable, which is typical for an even year. You certainly can’t count Vanderbilt and Kentucky as sure wins, and Florida and Ole Miss will be tough outs. But getting Tennessee, A&M, Georgia, and Missouri at home is hard to argue with.
- Speaking of Ole Miss, the Gamecocks are finally playing the Rebels again for the first time since 2009. I was literally beginning to think the SEC had forgotten to put them back on South Carolina’s schedule at some point.
In total, I think this is a pretty good draw of opponents and arrangement of games for South Carolina. 2018 should be viewed as a season with potential for marked improvement.