South Carolina's Schedule Depends on Your Perspective // SEC 2011

South Carolina's schedule isn't the hardest in the conference, but looking at it compared to Georgia's should give the Gamecocks pause.

This is an overview. Predictions come later. Home games in CAPS.

SEPTEMBER

9/3: vs. East Carolina (Charlotte)

9/10: at Georgia

9/17: NAVY

9/24: VANDERBILT

It would not be quite right to call South Carolina's opening month a "gauntlet" or anything, but it's not as easy as it might look initially. The ECU game in Charlotte could easily be a shootout. ECU's air raid offense will be going up against a sometimes susceptible South Carolina secondary, while the Gamecocks potent offense will face off against a Pirate defense that couldn't stop anyone last year. The big showdown with Georgia follows, something that's been covered well on this site already. Navy could easily be a trap game in the same way that Kentucky was after Alabama last year. Vandy should be a fairly comfortable win, especially with the game at home.

OCTOBER

10/1: AUBURN

10/8: KENTUCKY

10/15: at Mississippi State

10/22: BYE

10/29: at Tennessee

South Carolina's October isn't too bad just like Georgia's isn't either. First up is a chance to get revenge for the two losses Auburn gave the Gamecocks last season. Next is another revenge opportunity, this time for Steve Spurrier's first ever loss to Kentucky. The road trip to Mississippi State could be a tricky one, but there's no chance for it to be a look ahead game with the bye week coming up after. MSU is the second West opponent that the two East favorites share, though the Gamecocks don't have both at home like the Bulldogs do. Closing out the month is a trip to Tennessee, just like Georgia has to go to Knoxville on the road.

NOVEMBER

11/5: at Arkansas

11/12: FLORIDA

11/19: THE CITADEL

11/26: CLEMSON

The first game of November is why I said earlier that Georgia can better weather a loss in the match up between the two East favorites. South Carolina does get one of the projected top three West team, and that game is on the road. On top of that, South Carolina has never defeated an Arkansas team that has finished the season above .500 (and the Hogs will almost certainly clear that bar). After that big game comes a home match with Florida. If Georgia fails to live up to expectations (and the Gamecocks don't have the division sewn up already), this could be an SEC East championship game like it was last year. One last cupcake comes before the big rivalry tilt with Clemson. After starting his tenure 1-3 against those Tigers, Spurrier has won two straight in the series.

OVERALL

South Carolina's schedule doesn't have the big non-conference opponent like Georgia's does in Boise State, but it does have one of the West's big three teams. I'll bet UGA can live with that trade off. The Gamecocks also have just four true road games like Georgia does, and while their neutral site game might have a more mixed crowd, they only have one compared to the Bulldogs' two. South Carolina probably has the both of the two toughest true SEC road games among the favorites (at UGA, at MSU), and as far as rivals go, Clemson projects to finish higher in the ACC than Georgia Tech does. In absolute terms, South Carolina's schedule is not one of the toughest three or four slates in the conference. However it's not as nice as Georgia's is, and that could make all the difference.

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