Where do South Carolina football’s opponents rank?
South Carolina is gearing up for what will be a grueling 2021 football season under first year head coach Shane Beamer. The Gamecocks will, once again, face one of the nation’s toughest schedules, having the possibility of playing against six top 25 foes.
ESPN has already made their preseason projections for the Gamecocks, noting that they’ll win between four and five games next year. The site’s FPI formula that the team’s schedule ranks as the 16th toughest in the country, and gives the program little chance to make a bowl game appearance next season.
Now, another sports outlet is doing its best to rank the opponents on the South Carolina football schedule. Pro Football Focus recently listed each of the 130 FBS teams in order from best to worst. Where do the Gamecocks’ foes stand?
PFF sees the Gamecocks facing six teams that rank among the nation’s top 30 programs. Four of those opponents land in the top 10 – Georgia, Florida, Texas A&M, and Clemson.
The Gamecocks, themselves, came in at No. 73, essentially meaning that they’ll be underdogs in eight of 12 contests next year. Take a look at the full schedule below.
- Eastern Illinois – NR (FCS program)
- East Carolina – #91
- Georgia – #4
- Kentucky – #27
- Troy – #83
- Tennessee – #45
- Vanderbilt – #106
- Texas A&M – #6
- Florida – #7
- Missouri – #41
- Auburn – #15
- Clemson – #2
What’s it mean for the Gamecocks?
The slate is tough, but the path to bowl eligibility is in sight. South Carolina just has to get off to a hot start and pull an upset or two in the first seven games (looking at Tennessee and Kentucky). If the Gamecocks can take care of Eastern Illinois, ECU, and Troy in out-of-conference play, a 5-2 start is certainly not out of the question. South Carolina would then need to find just one win in the back half of the year.
Speaking of that second half, the last five matchups are absolutely brutal. Four of the final five contests come against opponents which PFF ranks in the top 15. Those include Texas A&M, Florida, Auburn, and Clemson. The lone outlier is Missouri, but the Gamecocks will be hitting the road for that matchup in what could be a chilly Missouri night.
Looking at this slate, it appears that getting to six wins will be tough, but not impossible. Should South Carolina find itself in a bowl game come December, it will have been a successful first season under coach Beamer.