South Carolina football: Gamecocks weary of Group of Five upset

South Carolina football should be weary of G5 upset.

The South Carolina football season is still four months away, but that hasn’t stopped writers and analysts from taking their best guesses on the outcome of the Gamecocks’ first campaign under new head coach Shane Beamer. Most peg the program to finish a bit better than last season, falling anywhere in the four to six win range.

ESPN released its FPI projections, which saw the team post a 5-7 overall record, winning just two games in SEC play. The site does, however, have South Carolina winning three of its four out of conference matchups, with the lone loss coming at the hands of perennial playoff contender Clemson. The projections predict that the Gamecocks will avoid an upset at the hands of Group of Five opponents Eastern Illinois, East Carolina, and Troy, which will be key if the program wants to get back to a bowl game.

Saturday Down South, however, doesn’t think it’s going to be so cut and dry. They’ve pegged the Gamecocks as one of five potential G5 upsets in the SEC next season, with the loss coming at the hands of the Troy Trojans.

Here’s what SDS had to say about the matchup.

Don’t sleep on this one… Troy ranks No. 2 in America in percentage of returning defensive production from a group that was in the top 1/3 in FBS last year… Of course, Troy has a different kind of challenge ahead slowing down Kevin Harris. If MarShawn Lloyd is able to make a full recovery, the Gamecocks might not need to have the passing game… Just don’t rule out the possibility of an embarrassing loss like this early on in the Beamer era.

The notion behind the upset stems from Troy’s returning talent on defense, and a prediction that the Gamecocks’ offense may struggle under its new coordinator. It’s a valid concern, as South Carolina has finished 99th or worse in scoring four of the last five seasons. Combine that with the fact that the team will have a fresh face under center, a new offensive scheme, and limited playmakers at wide receiver, and it’s not difficult to see the unit getting off to a slow start.

And Troy is known to pull these upsets. The Trojans took down Nebraska in 2018 and LSU in 2017, with both contests coming on the road. They also nearly took down a Clemson team in 2016 that won a national championship, losing 30-24.

Luckily for the Gamecocks, this isn’t the same Troy team from years past. Last season, the Trojans went 5-6 without playing a Power Five program. They, too, had trouble putting points on the board, and suffered their second consecutive losing record under head coach Chip Lindsey.

While the Gamecocks did lose their last matchup with a Group of Five school, a 2019 loss to Appalachian State, they typically take care of business. The team won 16 of its 18 contests versus G5 programs over the last decade, and will look to keep that trend alive in 2021. South Carolina has also beaten Troy in each of their three all-time matchups, with the average outcome being 43-17.

The Gamecocks will do their best to stay off of this list come season’s end, but the potential for the upset still looms. There will be no ‘gimmes’ for Shane Beamer and Co. in 2021.