South Carolina football: Beating Vanderbilt a key to bowl eligibility

The South Carolina football team will look to move to 4-3 on the season this Saturday with the Vanderbilt Commodores coming to town. It will be a big weekend with the State Fair heading to Columbia just in time for Homecoming celebrations for students and alumni.

This matchup represents possibly the last game that the Gamecocks will be favored in this season, as the second half of the will present the program with four SEC opponents and the season ending rivalry against Clemson. South Carolina enters the game favored by three scores over their SEC East foe.

While matchups with the Tigers, Auburn, Florida, Missouri, and Texas A&M seem tough on paper, the back half of the slate could actually be a bit easier than what the Gamecocks have faced to this point.

Missouri certainly seems like a winnable contest after their 0-3 start to conference play. Clemson, Auburn, and Texas A&M have all seen struggles with consistency on offense, particularly at the quarterback position giving the Gamecocks a puncher’s chance in each matchup. Florida, at this point, seems the tallest task, though the Gators may not have much motivation on the road in November as their SEC East hopes have already been shattered with losses to Alabama and Kentucky.

With all of that being said, the meeting this weekend with Vanderbilt could wind up being the difference between bowl eligibility and staying home for the holidays.

A win on Saturday strengthens South Carolina football’s bowl hopes.

A victory over the Commodores would push the Gamecocks to four wins on the year. As we mentioned before, it’s a game that South Carolina is expected to win. That won’t be the case in the season’s final five contests, but it’s not unrealistic to see the program finishing up the year 2-3 in those last handful of games.

Three of those last five matchups will be in the friendly confines of Williams-Brice Stadium while one of the two road trips is against a Missouri team that’s a mess right now. If the Gamecocks can land a win over the Tigers and pull out an upset at home against either Florida, Auburn, or Clemson, they’ll get to six wins and postseason eligibility.

Of course, that’s only true with a win over the Commodores on Saturday.

A loss, on the other hand, could result in a full meltdown and a season ending losing streak similar to the one we witnessed last year.

This is a huge game for head coach Shane Beamer in his inaugural season with the Gamecocks. It would land him his first SEC win, erase the memories of last week’s Tennessee loss, and keep postseason hopes alive. Getting to a bowl game in year one would show great progress for a program that won just six games over the previous two seasons combined. South Carolina can’t afford to miss out on this opportunity.