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SEC 2010 // Can the Gamecocks Finally Find No. 8?

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OVERVIEW

As always, this is the hardest of the prediction posts to do. I don't want the fact that I'm a fan of South Carolina to make me more optimistic than I should be about the Gamecocks' chances. On the other hand, I also don't want to overcompensate when I try to balance the roles of fan and analyst (if such a thing is possible, which I'm not sure it is).

That said, this is a pivotal year for Steve Spurrier at South Carolina. I know -- punchline: For the the third year in a row. But if year five is a reasonable time frame to expect a coach to do about as much as he's going to be able to do, year six is the drop-dead deadline for showing some progress. Anything less than an eight-win season and a .500 record in the SEC can't be considered a success for Spurrier any more. If he's ever going to even have a chance of winning a league championship in a fluke year, he has to have the program running at a high level now. This year and next year present his best window for making a run at the SEC East; if he can't do it with a talented roster with SEC experience, then it's time to make the unequivocal statement that his many enemies have long wanted to make: He just can't do it.

Georgia fans will probably take some exception to the prediction in that game and even cry "homerism." It should be noted that I don't always call that game for the Gamecocks -- see last year for just one example -- and it makes me nervous to do so. And I think the Dawgs will likely have a better record at the end of the year than South Carolina. But the timing is good in the Georgia game for an upset -- first SEC game for the new quarterback and the new defensive scheme, a history of close games between the two teams, home game. Even if South Carolina loses that one, there are a couple of other games that are winnable enough for the record to end up the same without defeating Georgia.

As far as the Clemson game -- I do believe that, but I always choose South Carolina to defeat Clemson in the preseason. So, grain of salt.

SEASON RESULTS

Place: 3rd in the SEC East
Record: 8-4, 4-4 SEC
Could be: 5-7 to 10-2
Best chance for an upset (aside from obvious): Alabama
Bowl: Game Formerly Known as the Peach Bowl

GAME-BY-GAME

9.2.10 | SOUTHERN MISS | POSSIBLE WIN
9.11.10 | GEORGIA | POSSIBLE WIN
9.18.10 | FURMAN | WIN
9.25.10 | at AUBURN | POSSIBLE LOSS
10.9.10 | ALABAMA | PROBABLE LOSS
10.16.10 | at KENTUCKY | POSSIBLE WIN
10.23.10 | at VANDERBILT | PROBABLE WIN
10.30.10 | TENNESSEE | POSSIBLE WIN
11.6.10 | ARKANSAS | POSSIBLE LOSS
11.13.10 | at FLORIDA | POSSIBLE LOSS
11.20.10 | TROY | PROBABLE WIN
11.27.10 | at CLEMSON | POSSIBLE WIN