The South Carolina football season is set to kick off on September 4th with a home matchup against Eastern Illinois. It will be head coach Shane Beamer’s inaugural campaign, one in which he’ll look to improve upon the Gamecocks’ two-win performance from a season ago.
It will be tough for the Gamecocks to reach bowl eligibility, with the team having to face four national title contenders, and a slew of SEC foes. The program will once again face one of the nation’s most difficult slates, as it looks to push for its first postseason appearance in three years.
We’ve done our best to rank the difficulty of each opponent on South Carolina’s 2021 schedule, but where do the Gamecocks rank on the schedules of those foes?
24/7 Sports recently released the East Carolina slate, rating games from easiest to most difficult. Surprisingly, the Gamecocks will not be the toughest test for the Pirates next year.
South Carolina football ranks as ECU’s 4th most difficult contest.
The Gamecocks come in as the Pirates’ fourth-toughest game in 2021, just edging out opponents like Navy, Houston, and Appalachian State. Here’s what the site had to say about the matchup ahead of the year.
The Gamecocks are far from world beaters coming off seasons of 4-8 and 2-8, and they have a brand new head coach in Shane Beamer. But the SEC is still the SEC, and South Carolina is stocked with talent and returning experience where it counts: in the trenches. East Carolina will be challenged up front all game long on both sides of the ball. If the Pirates can find a way to hold their own along the lines, they will have a shot to win on Sept. 11, but it’s not an easy task.
The site notes South Carolina’s advantage on the offensive and defensive lines, both of which should be strengths for the team. Shane Beamer’s group will also provide a potent rushing attack, though the defense could struggle stopping fourth-year signal caller Holton Ahlers.
The Gamecocks have won four straight over the Pirates, with the last loss coming in a winless 1999 season. In the series, South Carolina holds a strong 14-5 advantage, though this year’s contest will be the first played in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium since 1997.
It will certainly not be an easy task to pull of the win, but it’s a game in which the Gamecocks should be favored. Assuming the team gets off to a 1-0 start against Eastern Illinois, this would be a fantastic opportunity to continue the early season momentum heading into a matchup with SEC rival Georgia the following week. South Carolina can’t get caught looking ahead, though, or it may find itself travelling home with a loss.
The Gamecocks do rank near the top of the list in terms of difficulty on the East Carolina slate, but 24/7 Sports sees Memphis, Central Florida, and Cincinnati as tougher foes.