The 2012 South Carolina Gamecocks football season has officially ended, so we might as start focusing on the 2013 season. Here is a (way too) early look at the schedule and how things look now....
The Tar Heels were unable to find a way to back out of the return game of a home and home contract. It certainly wasn't for trying. This game was also tenatively scheduled to open the season on a Thursday, but is now slated for Saturday. It will be an ugly opening game as most of them are, but Carolina shouldn't have much trouble with the Tar Heels and should open 1-0.
If you like hearing hype about Aaron Murray and Gurshall, this is the off season for you. Expect to hear about how close the Bulldogs were in Atlanta against Alabama and how wonderful the UGa offense will be. All that aside, Aaron Murray has the change to be the greatest Bulldog quarterback in South Carolina history. I expect a shoot out in Athens like 2011, but I think the Dawgs finally get over the hump with their offensive firepower and a relatively inexperienced USC secondary. 1-1 (0-1)
This game won't be same old Vanderbilt, and as long as James Franklin is there we'll be obliged to begin all comments on the Commodores that way. The Dores are still a recruiting class or two away. South Carolina should win this game by about 10, something like 24-14. 2-1, (1-1).
More after the jump....
@ Central Florida
The Golden Knights will be amped to play this game, but that probably won't be a big enough advantage. Plenty of Florida grown Gamecocks will be amped to be back in their home state as well. This should end up like ECU did last year. 40-something to less than 20. 3-1, (1-1)
There is no reason this game should be close. None at all. 4-1, (2-1)
This should be a transition season for the Hogs, especially on offense. Petrino's offense is on the other end of the spectrum from Bielema's. I think Arkansas will take a season or two to adjust. Also, this game falls at a really bad time for the Hogs. They will be playing their 7th game in a row. They will have just finished with Texas A&M and Florida, and have Alabama the next week. Carolina should win a close one. 5-1 (3-1)
The Volunteer defense should be improved, but the offense will take time to rebuild. Without Bray I'm not concerned about the offense. USC should get their points and win in Knoxville for the second time in a row. 6-1, (4-1)
This is the trap game on the schedule. It's the third road game in a row. On the other hand the Tigers have to play Georgia and Florida the two weeks before. I expect this to be comfortably close, but I expect to have strong leadership from the upperclassmen. That intangible should make the difference in close games like this one. 7-1, (5-1)
Dan Mullen's Bulldogs are a good, but not upper level program. Unless they find a way to take the next step, this is a W. Weve waited for MSU to take that step for a few years now, and it hasn't happened. I don't expect it to happen next year either. 8-1, (6-1).
This game should be for the East. I expect Georgia's defensive attrition to catch up with them a couple times this season. Last year in the Swamp was ugly, but the Gators were not 33 points better than the Gamecocks. In Williams-Brice in a prime time environment, look for USC to wrap up another trip to Atlanta. 9-1 (7-1).
This is solid scheduling. You don't want an off week here, and you don't want a huge challenge here. Playing a Top 25 team or a special (read: triple option) team this week isn't ideal either. The Gamecocks reap the fruits of proper scheduling. 10-1 (7-1)
It's been four wonderful years. I expect Dabo to still be the full time head coach, so you can expect to be celebrating for a fifth year. Perhaps they should relegate him to interim status to give themselves a chance. This will be a very close game, but USC has the advantage where it matters: the trenches. 11-1 (7-1)
I've gotten atleast one of these wrong. Could it be the Georgia game? Could it be Florida? Could it be Clemson? Yes to all. We'll look at these again in the summer and see how silly they seem then.