South Carolina football: Ranking games from easiest to most difficult

South Carolina Gamecocks. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
South Carolina Gamecocks. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /
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See how South Carolina football’s schedule stacks up.

South Carolina’s 2021 football schedule will be one of the nation’s toughest. The Gamecocks face a number of programs positioned in the preseason top 25, and could face as many as seven ranked opponents throughout the year. Shane Beamer will certainly have his work cut out for him as he attempts to navigate through that difficult slate.

Making things even tougher, the Gamecocks will have a sophomore under center leading his first full season at quarterback, a very unproven wide receiver room, a defense that has holes at linebacker and in the secondary, and a brand new coaching staff.

South Carolina has been predicted to win four games this year by most sports outlets, and their season win total has been set at just 3.5 by the oddsmakers in Vegas. That tough slate is the biggest contributor to those subpar projections. Can the Gamecocks exceed expectations in 2021, or will they fall short of three wins for a second straight campaign?

Here, we rank the Gamecocks’ opponents from least to most difficult, starting with the season opener against Eastern Illinois.

No. 12 – Eastern Illinois Panthers, Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, SC

The Panthers will come to Williams-Brice Stadium on September 4th as the Gamecocks officially kick off the Shane Beamer era in Columbia. EIU has won just five of its last 29 contests, including posting one-win seasons in both 2019 and 2020.

Otto Kuhns is back after playing four games at quarterback, but the Gamecocks should be able to out-talent the Panthers on both sides of the ball. Game one should get off to a good start for Beamer and Co., but the remainder of the schedule will get a bit more difficult.