By Ben Jenkins:
Typically, I try to refrain from writing about the South Carolina Gamecocks as it is difficult to reign in my bias. Therefore you could imagine my excitement when I got a request to do a post-Georgia SEC preview for the Gamecocks. Before diving into the remaining SEC games I’ll cover a little bit on the Georgia game and then move forward from there.
Georgia: If you looked at the message boards and Twitter of Gamecock Nation you would think the sky is falling. There were even some people that called for Muschamp to be fired, which is borderline insane. Was it an embarrassing loss? Absolutely. Yet, it wasn’t the kind of demoralizing similar to that of the Clemson game from last year. Going into halftime South Carolina was down 10 to a team that it gifted a touchdown and set up for a field goal at the end of the first half. They were in the game, they just came out flat in the second half to start and that’s not something you can do against a team like Georgia. Despite what many people think, the Gamecocks will be okay. Georgia is clearly the second best team in the country and probably the only one that has a chance to unseat Alabama at this point in the season. It’s tough to watch your two rivals do so well, but it’s something Gamecock fans need to become accustomed to.
Remaining SEC Games
Vanderbilt: Unfortunately, South Carolina was unable to use the Marshall game as a rebound due to Hurricane Florence. Now, that could be either a positive or a negative for Will Muschamp’s squad. We don’t really know that much about the Gamecocks, as they beat a team they should’ve beat and lost to a team that they should’ve lost to. The next two games will be crucial to the season as they come against teams that they must beat to prove they are making progress as a program. While I won’t release any direct score predictions on this article, I expect the Gamecocks to come out with a chip on their shoulder and take care of the Commodores without too much fuss.
Kentucky: I still have no idea to this day how Kentucky has beaten South Carolina four years in a row. It’s dumbfounding to me that this is a legitimate losing streak. Outside of 2015, South Carolina had absolutely no business losing to Kentucky in the past 4 years. I believe we will see that change this year. Kentucky definitely has a decent squad up in Lexington, but I think we will see the Gamecocks come out with a personal vendetta against the Wildcats this year. I’m most likely the only person on the planet saying this, but I expect the Gamecocks to go into Lexington and win by a minimum of two touchdowns.
Missouri: Missouri will do what Missouri does best, absolutely torch teams with bad defenses and fold once it plays any real competition. Drew Lock is an absolute stud, but I don’t expect his defense/running game to provide him the help he will need to beat the Gamecocks. Here’s to hoping that Lock picks up another bottle filled with “water” from the student section and chugs it. That would be the stuff of legends. In conclusion, I think we’ll see the Gamecocks offense have a field day and take care of the Tigers from the other Columbia.
Texas A&M: At the beginning of the year, I had this as a swing game. I still hold the idea that it is a swing game and could go either way depending on the day. I think Williams-Brice will be rocking, but I think that Texas A&M will have a very good team by this point in the season. The talent has always been there for A&M and that was fully on display during their Week 2 clash with Clemson. I think South Carolina falls here based on my knee jerk reaction from Texas A&M in Week 2. I do think that no matter who wins it won’t be by more than a touchdown.
Tennessee: Watching the Tennessee program turn into a dumpster fire over the off-season was quite enjoyable for myself. I think they made a good hire with Pruitt for now, but that could easily change. I see Pruitt being an in between coach, as in he will better the program but will not put them in a place to compete for the SEC East Title. The last time Tennessee came to town, a quarterback who should’ve been a senior in high school named Jake Bentley guided his Gamecocks to an upset of the Volunteers. This year we’ll see a game that is close up until halftime. After that the Gamecocks will pull away to win by a couple scores.
Florida: Playing in Gainesville is never easy nor will Gamecocks ever take a win in the Swamp for granted. This year the Gamecocks will have a rare opportunity against a re-building Gator program to steal one on the road. I think Muschamp will get his second consecutive win over the Gators and his first as the Carolina coach in Gainesville. Parker White will prove to be a big factor in this game.
Ole Miss: I honestly don’t know what to think of the Rebels (excuse me, Landsharks) up to this point in time. They seem to have the ability to light it up on offense against teams with subpar defenses but also have the Missouri syndrome and fold against better than average defenses. At the beginning of the year I called for this to be the SEC game that the Gamecocks should win but would lose. I’m going to go back on that and say the Gamecocks will bend but not break just enough to hold off Ole Miss. The crowd in Oxford will be thick with Garnet and Black providing a more friendly road environment.
Final SEC Record: 6-2