Coach Steve Spurrier led South Carolina to a 9-5 overall, 5-3 conference record last year as the Gamecocks won the right to face undefeated Auburn in the SEC title game.
The Gamecocks also have had months to think about the 56-17 beating by the Tigers combined with the 26-17 loss to Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Bowl that stopped South Carolina from just its second 10-win season in program history.
USC return 13 starters including wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (1,517 yards on 88 catches and nine TD), running back Marcus Lattitmore (1,197 and 19 touchdowns) and quarterback Stephen Garcia.
The young offensive line mixed with Spurrier’s short leash on quarterbacks could keep the games interesting early in the season.
The defensive line is led by top recruit Jadeveon Clowney (6-6, 250) along with experienced Devin Taylor.
Clowney recorded 128 tackles, 19.5 sacks and 10 forced fumbles as a senior at South Pointe High School.
The linebackers are anchored by Shaq Wilson, Rodney Paulk and former defensive back DeVonte Holloman.
The secondary includes Stephon Gilmore, Akeem Auguste, D.J. Swearinger along with freshmen Brison Williams and Martay Mattox.
The 10-win plateau is possible for Gamecocks if they win the ones they are supposed to and grab an upset or two.
South Carolina opens against East Carolina (6-7) before jumping right into the SEC East battle at Georgia (6-7).
Four straight home games against Navy (9-4), Vanderbilt (2-10), Auburn (14-0) and Kentucky (6-7) should help the Gamecocks prepare for roads trips to Mississippi State (9-4), Tennessee (6-7) and Arkansas (10-3).
South Carolina closes the regular season with home games against Florida (8-5), The Citadel (3-8) and rival Clemson (6-7).
A repeat of their SEC East title is possible if the Gamecocks can pull road wins over Georgia, Tennessee and Arkansas.
Losses against that trio will drop them back to third or fourth place and put them at 6-6 and a disappointing finish for a very talented group.