Oct 6, 2012; Columbia, SC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks fans celebrate following their win over the Georgia Bulldogs at Williams-Brice Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-US PRESSWIRE

A VERY Early Gamecocks 2013 Football Schedule Preview

South Carolina released the Gamecocks 2013 football schedule yesterday, and there’s nothing I love more than making way-too-early-predictions.

The 2012 season still has four games left (counting the bowl). Hell, basketball season hasn’t even officially started yet.

Damn it all; Here’s what South Carolina’s football schedule looks like next year, and what I think the Gamecocks will do with it.

August 31: North Carolina
Barring something crazy, like, oh, I don’t know, the Tarheels backing out of another game against the superior Carolina, this should be as fun a season opener as Williams-Brice Stadium has had in ages. The Tarheels, while always one of the ACC’s more talented teams on paper, always find a way to lose more games than they should, and the last time they played the Gamecocks, South Carolina found a way to win a game it shouldn’t have. Next year, USC will probably be heavy favorites, but expect a hard-fought, close game and some epic trash talk before and afterwards.

September 7: At Georgia
South Carolina has won three straight games in this series, and although the matchup shifts back to Athens next year, the Gamecocks have a pretty good shot at pushing that winning streak to four. Yes, the Bulldogs phenomenal freshman backs will be more experienced next year, but so will 3/4 of South Carolina’s starting defensive line next year. If Aaron Murray doesn’t go to the NFL this year, Jadeveon Clowney will be salivating at the prospect of another QB feast. If he does leave, Clowney might physically eat whoever Georgia throws out there to pass the ball.

September 14: Vanderbilt
The ‘Doores gave South Carolina one hell of a time in Nashville to start the 2012 season off. Expect the Gamecocks to repay the favor when Vandy comes to Columbia next year. SC has nothing to look ahead to during this game, because the weekend after is open for the Gamecocks, and the weekend after that is a trip to UCF. It’s scary to imagine what a focused squad of Gamecocks could to to Vanderbilt in Williams Brice.

September 21: Open
The Gamecocks will heal whatever wounds remain from their first two matchups of the year. SC’s backups will bask in the glory their campus peers shower upon them after extended playing time in that third game.

September 28: At UCF
If there is any game on the schedule against inferior competition that should scare SC fans, it’s this one. UCF isn’t a great team, but they have defeated quality major conference opponents in the past. This is one of those tough games that if Carolina loses will make them the laughing stock of the SEC, but if they win will bring ridicule for scheduling a patsy out-of-conference schedule. Carolina should destroy UCF. Should.

October 5: Kentucky
The Wildcats were another lesser SEC east foe that gave the Gamecocks a scare on the road this season. There’s no way that happens at home. Spurrier will probably treat this game like a bye once the second half starts and rest his starters, because South Carolina starts a stretch of three straight SEC road games the next week.

October 12: At Arkansas
We’ve yet to see what this battered, bruised and, frankly, awful Razorbacks team can do against the (and we don’t usually get to say this) far superior Gamecocks this year, but next year Arky could be even worse. They’ll have their third coach in as many years, and they’re losing their biggest offensive threat, Tyler Wilson to graduation in 2012. Also, Knile Davis could enter the draft this year, too, if he doesn’t want to stick around for another year of the crazies in Hogville. The first game of this somewhat unprecedented three-game SEC road trip should be easy enough to get through for Carolina. But then there’s:

October 20: At Tennessee
The Vols will also probably be trying things out under a new coach… Oh who are we kidding, they’ll definitely be trying things out under a new coach. Still, the Vols are way more talented than their past two seasons worth of wins and losses have shown. Heading to Knoxville is never an easy task, especially for South Carolina, so the Gamecocks have to take this game as seriously as they took their trips to Baton Rouge and The Swamp this year to assure victory. If they slip up at all, this could be the win that jump-starts UT’s resurgence. At least this one isn’t on Halloween.

October 27: At Missouri
As far as opponents to end a three game road trip against, Missouri is probably the best the Gamecocks could do. The Tigers won’t be a pushover, but they will be much worse than Carolina next year. Their fans will be pumped up, though, in the middle of their second year in the SEC, so a little home cooking from the other Columbia might throw SC off a step or two to begin the game. Carolina should finish this three game stretch 3-0, but if they do pick up a loss, it shouldn’t be at the hands of Mizzou.

November 2: Mississippi State
The Bulldogs have surprised everyone this year, and they’ll probably be better next year than they are right now. Luckily, the Gamecocks get them at home, instead of on the road… for a fourth straight SEC game… The fans will be rocking Williams Brice Stadium, and it should be one of the more exciting games of the season for South Carolina.

November 9: Open
Hopefully the Gamecocks will spend all week working on protecting the ball, because after their second open date of the season:

November 16: Florida
If South Carolina didn’t turn the ball over four times (thrice on SPECIAL teams) would they have beat the Gators? I don’t know, but they certainly would not have got blown out. This game could decide who wins the SEC  East, and I like Carolina’s chances at home, so long as they hold on to the ball and its punter gets a stronger leg.

November 23: Coastal Carolina
I can’t think of a more epic FCS opponent the Gamecocks could’ve scheduled for this contest. There’s a crazy history of cutting ties, silent treatment, postseason baseball rivalry and a bond between feathery mascots these schools share. The Chanticleers will get obliterated, of course, but the storylines leading into this game are endless.

November 30: Clemson
You know what the only thing that could make this rivalry more awesome? Snow. Wishful thinking, maybe, but this late in the year, it could happen. Anyway, the actual matchup between the two schools should be a fun thing to take in. The Gamecocks could either be going for an unheard of five wins in a row against the Tigers, or Clemson could be looking to start another one of their long winning streaks against Carolina. I’d give the edge to SC right now, but then again, I’d give the edge to SC against Clemson under any circumstances.

Finally, here’s a bold prediction for you:

If the Gamecocks find a legit, consistent and dangerous down-field receiving threat, they will go undefeated next year.

I like the two headed rushing attack they will have with Mike Davis and Brandon Wilds. I like Connor Shaw being a senior signal caller. I love the defense. The special teams can’t get any worse.

A big-time down-field receiver is all the Gamecocks need to get to the next level.

 

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