C&F's predictions for the South Carolina Gamecocks.
Finish: 3rd, SEC East
General: No matter how much he might try to protest otherwise, this is likely a make-or-break year for Steve Spurrier in Columbia. Not that a 7-5 record is likely to get him fire, though it's not out of the question that it could lead him to quit. But most coaches have at least given some indication by the fifth year about whether they can win a conference title. The talk of youth obscures the flip side of that equation, namely that this could be a chance for Spurrier and his coaches to start over. The Gamecocks should at least play better this year, if for no other reason than that it would be difficult for a team with the recruiting years they've had and the talented coaches they have to play any worse. I'm not sure it will make much of a difference in the record, though.
More specific: It's not impossible to sketch out a nine-win season for South Carolina, though it's incredibly difficult: Sweep the conference pushes and non-conference schedule and pull off an upset, most likely against Georgia. In the process, though, they can't lose any of the minefield games on the slate (N.C. State, Vanderbilt, Clemson). Any scenario for 10 or more wins is laughable. Eight wins is more plausible -- a loss in one of the minefield games and pulling an upset -- but still hard to see. Either "dream season" requires absolutely nothing to go wrong for the Gamecocks, something that rarely happens for any football team. To some extent, South Carolina is a victim of timing here, pulling two of the strongest teams in the West and missing out on the one remaining conference cupcake (Mississippi State). I'm giving them third in the division because I think they're more likely to defeat Tennessee than Arkansas.
9.3 :: at N.C. State :: POSSIBLE WIN
9.12 :: at Georgia :: POSSIBLE LOSS
9.19 :: vs. Florida Atlantic :: POSSIBLE WIN
9.24 :: vs. Ole Miss :: PROBABLE LOSS
10.3 :: vs. S.C. State :: POSSIBLE WIN
10.10 :: vs. Kentucky :: POSSIBLE WIN
10.17 :: at Alabama :: LIKELY LOSS
10.24 :: vs. Vanderbilt :: PROBABLE WIN
10.31 :: at Tennessee :: PUSH
11.7 :: at Arkansas :: PUSH
11.14 :: vs. Florida :: LOSS
11.28 :: vs. Clemson :: POSSIBLE WIN
Final record: 7-5, 3-5 SEC East
MONDAY: South Carolina Leans on Hope, Again
TUESDAY: The Carolina Calendar
WEDNESDAY: Spurrier Meets with Two Students; Stephen Garcia -- and the Rest of the Depth Chart; Hope and Homerism
FRIDAY: Feedback and Conclusions