The glory days of South Carolina Gamecocks football are over. The program went through a great run at the start of the decade, finishing 11-2 for three straight seasons. The combination of the best coach in program history in Steve Spurrier and a few years where there was an abundance of in-state talent combined to create a perfect storm for success. Without those factors, it’s only natural for the Gamecocks to regress, so it’s hard to call Will Muschamp’s first season a failure.
2016 Record: 6-7 SU, 6-6-1 ATS, 5-8 O/U
2017 Regular Season Win Total: 5.5
National Championship Odds: +100000
Odds To Win SEC: +13000
A stunning victory over Tennessee helped the Gamecocks finish the season at 6-6 and kept the critics at bay. Looking back on the season, there’s no loss that you can reasonably say should have been a victory and they were competitive in every game except against eventual national champion Clemson.
South Carolina started the season 2-4, but things turned around when Muschamp named freshman Jake Bentley the starter against Massachusetts. Bentley led the Gamecocks to three straight wins after that, playing fantastic in all three games for a freshman. He only struggled against Clemson and lit up South Florida’s defense in the Birmingham Bowl.
The Gamecocks defense was decent until the last three games of the season. Before that point, no team had scored more than 30 points on this unit all year. However, South Carolina gave up 31 to Western Carolina, 56 to Clemson, and 46 to South Florida to send its season averages into a nosedive. Defensive end Darius English led the team with 9.5 sacks on his way to all-SEC accolades.
This could be the best offense that Muschamp has had as a head coach. South Carolina returns 10 starters on offense from last season and Bentley should be better with an offseason of practice with the first team under his belt. His top five receivers from last season return and that rapport should help him achieve more success.
Skai Moore had to sit out the entire 2016 campaign after offseason neck surgery. He has looked very impressive since being cleared to practice again and is out to lead a defense that could have used his leadership at the end of last season. Moore was second-team all-SEC in 2015 after a year in which he registered 111 tackles and having him back will be huge.
It will be hard for the Gamecocks to get back to a bowl. South Carolina faces three difficult opponents in non-conference play and even FCS Wofford might be a test as a sandwich game in between tilts against Florida and Clemson. They do only have four true road games so that will help, but South Carolina will be underdogs away from home against Texas A&M, Tennessee, and Georgia.
Saturday, September 2: South Carolina vs. North Carolina State (in Charlotte)
Saturday, September 9: South Carolina at Missouri
Saturday, September 16: South Carolina vs. Kentucky
Saturday, September 23: South Carolina vs. Louisiana Tech
Saturday, September 30: South Carolina at Texas A&M
Saturday, October 7: South Carolina vs. Arkansas
Saturday, October 14: South Carolina at Tennessee
Saturday, October 28: South Carolina vs. Vanderbilt
Saturday, November 4: South Carolina at Georgia
Saturday, November 11: South Carolina vs. Florida
Saturday, November 18: South Carolina vs. Wofford
Saturday, November 25: South Carolina vs. Clemson
|SEC Conference||Big 10 Conference|
|ACC Conference||Big 12 Conference|
|Pac 12 Conference||Big East Conference|
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