South Carolina is coming off back-to-back double-digit winning seasons for the first time in school history. And the Gamecocks have their sights set even higher in 2013, as coach Steve Spurrier’s team is a national title contender and boasts a Heisman Trophy candidate in junior defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
A difficult crossover schedule with the West Division has played a part in South Carolina missing out on the SEC Championship over the last two years. However, the tables have turned in the East, as Georgia faces a tough crossover schedule, while the Gamecocks take on Arkansas and Mississippi State.
South Carolina’s SEC East title hopes could be decided fairly early in the season, as a huge contest at Georgia waits on Sept. 7.
What will South Carolina's record at the end of the 2013 regular season? Athlon’s panel of experts debates:
South Carolina's 2013 Game-by-Game Predictions
8/29 North Carolina
9/7 at Georgia
9/28 at UCF
10/12 at Arkansas
10/19 at Tennessee
10/26 at Missouri
11/2 Mississippi State
11/23 Coastal Carolina
Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven)
If South Carolina beats Georgia on Sept. 7, there’s a good chance this team finishes 2013 with an unbeaten record. The Gamecocks have the favorable crossover schedule this year, and the quarterback combination of Connor Shaw and Dylan Thompson will be a handful for opposing defenses. And despite the loss of its linebacking corps and a couple of players on the line, South Carolina should remain one of the best defenses in the nation. Considering how favorable the schedule is, it’s tough to predict two losses. I think Georgia will be much more prepared to stop defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, and the Bulldogs have an edge with this game in Athens. I’m predicting South Carolina to lose to Arkansas (Razorbacks have won three straight over the Gamecocks in Fayetteville), but I wouldn’t be shocked to see the second loss come at Missouri (a third consecutive road trip). Again, with such a favorable schedule, it’s hard to pick the Gamecocks at 10-2. It's somewhat of a hunch, but South Carolina has the feel of a 10-2 team, and I’m guessing the Gamecocks stumble once unexpectedly along the way.
Josh Ward, (@Josh_Ward), Mr. SEC
South Carolina enters the year having won 31 games in the last three seasons. The Gamecocks are serious contenders to win the SEC Eastern Division this year. I have South Carolina losing to Georgia. Both teams will begin the season facing tough opponents (Georgia opens at Clemson), but the Bulldogs will have the fortune of playing South Carolina at home in week two. The Tennessee and Missouri games in November will be worth watching. I picked South Carolina to lose at Missouri, which will be the third straight road game for South Carolina. The Gamecocks should bounce back after their bye week, although Florida will be a tough opponent in Columbia. A third straight double-digit win season is very possible for South Carolina.
SEC Logo (@SEC_Logo)
Let me make my case for an undefeated regular season.
2. They do not play any of the SEC West big 3 (Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M)
3. They own Clemson
4. Connor Shaw + Dylan Thompson
5. They get Florida at home
And no, I did not forget about the most important game of the season, it’s week 2 at Georgia. The season rides on the 4:30 kick between the hedges.
Name to remember: Bruce Ellington, WR
Although I expect South Carolina to beat UNC in its opener, I think Georgia will come out victorious the following week because the game is in Athens and the Bulldogs appear to be a little more fearsome on offense. After the first two weeks, it should be clear sailing until November when the Gamecocks get to finish with four games at home. I like them to take care of business in the first three, but I'll take Clemson in a minor upset to finish out the regular season. Since I have Georgia winning the SEC East, I'm picking Clemson to win the battle of the Palmetto State because I think the Tigers will have more to play for by that point and Dabo Swinney really wants this one.
Braden Gall (@BradenGall)
The entire SEC East season may come down to the Week 2 showdown Between the Hedges with Georgia — a team the Gamecocks destroyed last year and have beaten three straight seasons. But even with a loss to the Dawgs, South Carolina could easily win the East. South Carolina has the better head coach, the much easier schedule and the better defense than both Georgia and Florida. Is it possible that the Cocks lose a game it shouldn't like it has most every other year? Sure. But who is that team in 2013: at Tennessee? at Missouri? at Arkansas? Vanderbilt at home? No, Carolina has a two-game schedule this fall and wins over Florida and Georgia would send Steve Spurrier's squad back to Atlanta for just the second time in school history.
David Fox (@DavidFox615)
South Carolina finally got a good draw with the schedule compared to Georgia. No LSU. No Alabama. No Petrino-led Arkansas. Three consecutive road games in the SEC is going to be tough, but won’t be many three-game road trips more manageable than Arkansas, Tennessee and Missouri. Only the Volunteers gave Carolina a game last season. The swing games, as always, are Georgia and Florida. I’ve picked South Carolina to split those games. Marcus Lattimore had his way with Georgia the last few seasons. Combine that with the game in Athens early in the year, and I’ll go with the Bulldogs. That Florida game, though, is a pick ‘em. Carolina lost 44-11 last season, but that game was something of a fluke. South Carolina isn’t going to turn the ball over four times again. People may forget Jadeveon Clowney had one of the best games of his career against the Gators a year ago.
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