South Carolina Football: Gamecocks strength of schedule lower than typical

South Carolina football's 2024 strength of schedule is not as extreme in 2024 as is typical.
South Carolina football
South Carolina football / Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports

South Carolina football fans have watched their favorite team endure a gauntlet of a schedule year after year. Playing in the SEC, facing the rival Clemson Tigers, and often adding an out-of-conference game against one of the schools from North Carolina, the Gamecocks routinely rank among the country's leaders in strength of schedule.

The 2024 season, though, isn't quite as difficult...on paper, at least. To be clear, USC plays a difficult schedule as they always do, but it isn't quite as unforgiving as in years past.

Sports Illustrated site College Football HQ compiled the numbers, and South Carolina doesn't rank near the top of the SEC in strength of schedule based on opponents' win-loss records. In fact, the Gamecocks have a middle-of-the-pack slate in 2024, ranking 7th out of the 16 teams in the league in difficulty of schedule.

USA Today's College Sports Wire ranked the league's strength of schedule, and Carolina came out of the exercise in 5th place in the SEC. That is far from a cakewalk, but it is lighter than what Shane Beamer's team played last year.

It certainly makes things a bit easier for the Gamecocks that the Georgia Bulldogs fell off the schedule for the first time since Carolina entered the SEC in 1992. Plus, the out-of-conference tests (other than the annual rivalry against Clemson) aren't as tough this fall as Shane Beamer's squad will play the Old Dominion Monarchs, the Akron Zips, and the Wofford Terriers, all at home.

In the SEC, South Carolina still plays Vanderbilt (the worst team in the league), gets a few potential swing games at home, plays Alabama in year 1 of the post-Nick Saban era, and avoids Georgia, Texas, and Tennessee (three teams all considered to be in the top half of the league).

Things will be difficult (@ Alabama, @ Oklahoma, Ole Miss, @ Clemson, Missouri, etc.), but it could have been worse.

Heading into year 4 of the Shane Beamer era in Columbia, the 2024 version of the South Carolina football team has to capitalize on the slight reprieve in scheduling and get back on track in the win column. Another year without a bowl game should be viewed as unacceptable, but a return to the 7 or 8-win totals from 2021 and 2022 could inject some much-needed momentum into the program's already strong recruiting efforts and push the Gamecocks up a couple of rungs on the SEC ladder.

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