Gamecocks face tough road
This is the fourth team in the SEC football preview series:
South Carolina managed to win six games and go bowling in 2016, but that could be a challege to repeat this season.
Some experts predict a 5-7 finish for South Carolina, others think the opposite will happen.
The Gamecocks could open with losses to North Carolina State (37.3 pre cent chance of winning) and Missouri (47.5) before wins over Kentucky (60.0) and Louisiana Tech (89.5).
The Missouri game could prove to be the decing bowl factor as South Carolina could be 3-1 heading into a loss at Texas A&M (32.4).
A loss against the Tigers and the Gamecocks could be sitting at home when other teams are going bowling.
South Carolina is favored against Arkansas (66.1) but then travels to Knoxville (24.3).
A win at home against Vanderbilt (69.1) will be followed by losses at Georgia (22.3) and home gainst Florida (38.7).
The Gamecocks could become bowl eligible with a win over Wofford (96.4).
The annual rivarly game against Clemson (25.0) could be the Gamecocks final game of the season and head coach Will Muschamp could begin to hear the disgruntled fans begin to complain.
In 2016, the Gamecocks opned 2-4 but finished the regular season 4-2 before the loss in the Birmingham Bowl.
South Carolina has to improve to compete for the SEC East title.
A key factor to their success depends on the offfensive production.
Sophomore Jake Bentley started seven games last year after skipping his senior season at Opelika (Alabama) to join the Gamecocks.
Bentley threw for 1,420 yards, nine touchdowns and four interceptions.
Junior wide receiver Deebo Samuel had 783 receiving yards, 98 rushing yards and seven combined touchdowns even though he was limited the first half of the season due to injury.
The defense has to improve for South Carolina to have a chance to win six or seven games.
Skai Moore, the team’s leading tackler in 2013, ’14 and ’15, is back after missing the 2016 season due to a herniated disc in his neck that required surgery.
Bryson Allen-Williams and T.J. Brunson are also talented linebackers.
The secondary is led by Rashad Fenton, Jamarcus King, Chris Lammons, D.J. Smith and Steven Montac.
Incoming four-star recruit Jamyest Williams could get a chance to play right away.
Special teams could be a concern with the departure of their kicker, punter and long snapper.
At Florida, Muschamp went 7-6, 11-2, 4-8 and 6-5.
South Carolina fans will have to wait and see what roller-coaster ride they endure but it will have plenty of ups and downs.
The key will be if the Gamecocks can win in October against Arkansas, Tennessee and Vanderbilt – because South Carolina will only win one game in November.
So 2017 could be 5-7 or 7-5, let’s just wait and see.
South Carolina schedule
Sept 2 N.C. State
Sept 9 at Missouri
Sept 16 Kentucky
Sept 23 La. Tech
Sept 30 at Texas A&M
Oct 7 Arkansas
Oct 14 at Tennessee
Oct 28 Vanderbilt
Nov 4 at Georgia
Nov 11 Florida
Nov 18 Wofford
Nov 25 Clemson